Every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Gaucho Certified Farmers Market has planted itself in the parking lot behind the Student Resource Building, bringing products like fresh bread, honey, jam, popcorn and tons of vegetables and fruits — all organic and locally grown — to UCSB students, faculty and staff.
Along with bringing a fresh, healthy, community-oriented vibe to campus, the Gaucho Certified Farmers Market has allowed market-goers to come face-to-face with the farmers and artisans that grow food around the Santa Barbara area since Fall Quarter.
Amongst the myriad of Farmer’s Market vendors is Westland Floral, a sustainable wholesale farm and floral design market based in Carpinteria. According to 31-year-old Goleta resident Chris Coombs, who mans the Westland Floral tent at the campus farmers market, the company is the largest orchid grower in the State of California.
According to Coombs, flowers are oftentimes difficult to sell to college students who usually do not have extra money to spend on decorative items. However, the high-quality products and affordable prices of Westland Floral offer students the unique opportunity to brighten their environment at an affordable price.
“Flowers are awesome because they look awesome and they make people feel better,” Coombs said. “It really helps with the ambiance wherever you are, whether it’s an apartment or homeless shelter.”
Another vendor that provides bright color to Parking Lot 23 is the family-run farm Friend’s Ranch, which grows citric fruits like oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruits, avocados, guavas and 42 other kinds of fruit. According to Friend’s Ranch farmer and family member George Thatcher, his family has been running Friend’s Ranch in Ojai for over 125 years. Thatcher said the Gaucho Certified Farmers Market is a venue that allows students to get “direct access to produce, fruits and vegetables” while being able to “meet the people who make the food” they are purchasing.
Photos by Kenneth Song / Daily Nexus
A version of this story appeared on page 11 of Thursday, January 9, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.