Straight from the farm: La Jolla's fall harvest reaps funds for elementary school
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 10/25/12 - 10:22 AM | 11934 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Views of scrumptious produce at the La Jolla Open Aire Market. Photos by Lyndsy Hassett for
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For 14 years, the La Jolla Open Aire Market has brought together the finest local farmers, artisans and merchants with the noble aim of helping fund much-needed school improvements and programs at La Jolla Elementary School (LJES), which has continued to blossom over the years thanks, in part, to the generous support of participants at the weekly farmers market and the philanthropic leadership of its organizers.

Every Sunday since the market’s launch in 1998, the upper playground at LJES has transformed into a lively mini-bazaar, complete with fresh local produce, one-of-a-kind artisan crafts, live music, friendly chatter among friends and neighbors, and the sumptuous aroma of freshly made dishes

emanating from the food court.

A walk among the vendors’ wares is likely to summon any range of emotions, from inspiration to create new seasonal

recipes to elation over finding the perfect complement to a missing piece of house décor or accessory to an outfit.

What first started with just 14 local farmers, one artisan, a manager and the lofty dream of founder Sherry Ahern developed over the years into one of the largest and most diverse farmers markets in San Diego.

Now, 14 years later, the local market can boast 36 certified farms and ranches offering a wide variety of fruits and vegetables picked right off the vines, a spread of artisan cheeses and quality meats, and the freshest eggs around.

With the county’s highest number of certified farmers participating in La Jolla’s weekly market and a wide range of one-of-a-kind artisans and vendors to boot, residents and tourists alike are hard-pressed to walk away empty-handed.

“We were the first market ever to introduce an artisan section,” said Julia Kaplan, executive member of Friends of La Jolla Elementary and La Jolla Open Aire Market spokeswoman.

“Because we are in La Jolla, we have many year-round tourists that may not need to buy produce, but they can still shop and eat from our diverse food court, have a massage and listen to live local music.”

Families can feast on any of the food court’s sumptuous grub at the nearby family picnic area — a two-acre grass field with picnic tables — or enjoy a cultural experience perusing the creative works of local artisans and musicians.

“The market has become a vibrant weekly event and gathering place for the entire La Jolla community,” Kaplan said. “It’s the perfect place to shop for something special.”

In addition to the feel-good mood surrounding the Sunday morning market, all proceeds from the market’s sales benefit programs at LJES.

“The market helps pay for science, music, [physical education], a librarian, school nurse and tech teachers part time,” she said. “There are more cuts slated for the San Diego Unified schools, and the goal of the market is to continue growing and bringing the finest vendors to the community.”

This year, organizers announced the addition of hardscape around the school grounds to allow the market to continue its physical and financial growth at its location on the corner of Girard Avenue and Genter Street.

In celebration of 14 successful years, the La Jolla Open Aire Market will host a Harvest Festival on Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The festival will feature live music, carnival games, arts and crafts, cakewalk, a balloon artist and other activities. Market-goers of all ages are encouraged to come dressed in costume for a spooktacular twist at La Jolla’s favorite market.

For more information about the La Jolla Open Aire Market, visit or call (858) 454-1699. For updates on weekly happenings, chef discussion forums and recipe ideas, become a fan of the La Jolla Open Aire Market’s Facebook fan page.

Join in the fun!

On Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the La Jolla Open Aire Market will celebrate its 14th anniversary with a festival for the whole family.

What’s in season?

The La Jolla Open Aire Market’s website features a chart shoppers can check to keep up to date on what’s in season. Here’s what you’ll find in October:

• cut flowers

• apples

• asian pears

• avocados

• basil

• beans, green

• beets

• cabbage

• carrots

• cauliflower

• celery

• corn

• cucumbers

• eggplant

• figs

• grapes

• guavas

• herbs

• kiwi

• lemons

• limes

• lettuce

• melons

• onions

• pears

• peppers

• potatoes

• pumpkins

• radishes

• scallions

• spinach

• squash, summer

• strawberries

• sweet corn

• sweet potatoes

• tangelos

• tomatoes
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