Market fresh in downtown Hollister

Dan and Nancy Durham look through organic tomato plants at the Penny Lane Farm stand, which had many different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and other assorted plants for sale at the Hollister farmers market in 2015.

San Benito County residents looking for the sweet taste of summer in the form of tangy cherries, sweet strawberries and local honey need look no further than their own downtown.
Hollister’s Downtown Certified Farmers’ Market opened for the season May 6 and brought in more than 100 vendors, with many trekking in from out of town.
“It’s pretty good,” said Mario Hernandez, 23, as he assessed the crowds.
Owner of Salinas-based Hernandez Produce, he joined the Hollister market for the first time this year but has already brought his roasted peanuts to several others in the area.
Aromas Beekeeper Rich Mockabee, 68, thought the crowds were quieter as he stood by his displays of beeswax candles, soap, bee pollen and honey last Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s OK. I figured it probably won’t get too busy until people get off work,” he said. “I don’t see a beer vendor yet. That’s my problem.”
Mockabee expected his popular honey sticks in clover, orange blossom and blackberry flavors to sell well at the market. The translucent straws filled with amber-colored liquid sell for 50 cents each or three for $1.
“The kids love these. They really love them,” said the beekeeper. “I have teachers that come and buy by the handfuls. They use them as incentives.”
The market runs from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will continue every Wednesday through Sept. 30. It returned to its widely popular location on San Benito Street this year, a shift from its former location on Fifth Street two years ago.
“I think it was a great move,” said Market Manager Tammy Jackson. “I was actually worried it was going to be a little bit too big and spread out but it was great.”
Not everyone attending the market had fresh produce in mind since this event is also known for its food truck fare including sausage, falafel, baked potatoes and fresh
fruit juices.
Stephanie Partida headed downtown with her 3-year-old daughter, Mariyah, to eat a snack from the Watsonville-based Ivan’s Baked Potatoes food booth.
“I used to work right here so I knew the baked potatoes were my favorite,” she said. “So now that I’m pregnant, it’s been my craving.”
The spuds packed with sour cream, bacon bits, cheese and chives sell for $6, while roasted corn at the same stop is $2.50.
A few new vendors will be among this year’s lineup including soap makers, according to the market coordinator. One of the businesses creates a homemade laundry detergent and another sells a sudsy product made only from craft beers, Jackson explained. There will also be a knife sharpener who can restore kitchenware, scissors and shovels to their proper cutting-edge levels.
“We’re excited about that because we haven’t had one for a while,” Jackson said.
Other likely additions this year include a special wine and beer tasting during the first Wednesday of each month. Permit approval is still pending, but the new tradition might start in June, she said.
The event’s new Art Nights, run by the San Benito County Arts Council, will also be the same evenings, giving residents a chance to see local artists and performance groups.
Last week, the council organized performances with a mariachi band and several locally based dance groups.
“At the farmers market, you really see a whole lot of people coming together from the community to buy produce and also to see the entertainment that’s happening,” said Jennifer Laine, the executive director of the San Benito County Arts Council. “For us, what was great is, there’s basically a built-in audience.”

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