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Seasonal Farmers’ Markets open here

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Every Monday, starting this week, mountains of cauliflower, cabbage and cherries can be seen in the Twelve Bridges Shopping Center parking lot. That’s because from this week until Dec. 20, the Sierra Fresh Farmers’ Market will bring local produce to Lincoln and other surrounding cities. Diane Barkey of Lincoln, shopping Monday morning, likes the “fresh local produce, the plants and the flowers,” and has visited the Twelve Bridges Farmers’ Market since it opened three years ago. “Fresh produce tastes better and are fresher because they didn’t travel on a truck,” Barkey said. “It’s nice to support local people.” Billie Jean Salle, Sierra Fresh Farmers’ Markets manager, said this will be the fourth season for the market, which started with just four vendors the first year. It will feature “about 20 when we get in full swing” this year, according to Salle. Salle is also co-owner of Salle Orchards in Wheatland, a walnut, fruit and vegetable farm. “We have farmed our whole life and this is the nearest town to where we live that has substantial development,” Salle said. “The vendors are nice, dedicated and loyal people, and we’ve become very close to our customers.” The benefit of shopping at a farmers’ market is flavor, nutrition and quality, according to Salle. She said produce loses nutrients over time after being harvested. The fruits and veggies sold at the Farmers’ Market are usually picked the day of or day before they are sold at the market, according to Salle. “Customers like to know where their food is coming from and that they’re getting it fresh,” Salle said. The Twelve Bridges market features a variety of food and produce to choose from, including squash, melons, heirloom tomatoes, bread, olive oil, prepared Mexican and Indian food and kettle corn. “All of them are so pleasant and the food is so fresh. It’s a treat to come here every week and I so miss them when they are closed over the winter,” said Nancy Peterson of Lincoln at Monday’s first Farmers’ Market of the season. Eggs are one of the items Peterson likes to buy at the market. “They are fresh, free range and I know they are from happy chickens,” Peterson said. Salle said two nurseries will be at the Farmers’ Market, selling vegetable and flower plants. New this year is a vendor selling fresh flowers. Crafts will be available for purchase as well, including aprons, crochet purses, soaps and beach bags. “It’s like family out here, and I’ve gotten to appreciate the farmers and the hard work they’ve done,” said Bev Brown, selling handcrafted items such as aprons, hair scrunchies and coloring book covers. “It’s such a nice group of people.” Sierra Fresh Farmers’ Markets also organizes two other farmers’ markets in Lincoln, one in Lincoln Hills and the other in downtown Lincoln. Gordon Poulsen, owner and grower for Penryn Willow Creek Ranch, offers produce including red onions, cabbage, mandarins and actual baby carrots. “I like the people, and to see customers come back week after week,” Poulsen said.