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Farmer’s Market is a weekly celebration

A wide selection of fresh fruits from local growers is available at the Scripps Farmer’s Market. (photos by John Gregory)

Farmer’s Market is a weekly celebration

There is no other weekly draw in Scripps Ranch that outshines the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. A visit to the event verifies that its claim to be a weekly family festival is accurate. Sure enough, visitors can have breakfast or lunch, browse among the many booths, purchase a supply of fresh produce, enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee or a frozen drink, listen to live music, visit with friends and discover something new and surprising each week. It can all be found every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot.

The event is not overwhelming, averaging between 60-65 vendors, and it has a welcoming, relaxed vibe. The place is kid-friendly, the vendors are welcoming and the people in charge are warm. 

Mike and Beverly Cassity (courtesy of Beverly Cassity)

The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market is run by Beverly and Mike Cassity.  

“We do this one particular market out of love. We love our vendors. … We’re doing something we feel is unique and very, very vital for the community,” she explained. “We’re providing a weekly, not a monthly or yearly, but a weekly place for people in the community to gather in the morning and have breakfast or lunch together. … “We feel like we are a wonderful family festival every single Saturday, year-round.”

Indeed, the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market offers a wide variety of options for food, merchandise and random fun. To start, there is a good selection of fresh produce including apples, cherries, peaches and nectarines, and there is always a selection of colorful flowers.

“We have 10 of the best farmers in San Diego. They are absolutely wonderful. We have certified and 100 percent organic fruit and produce,” Beverly said.

“All of the really good summer fruits are coming out right now,” she added. “What makes a great farmers market is great farmers. Great farmers will pull in the foodies.”

Spanish paella is one of the many fresh dishes prepared and served at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market.

The foodies certainly have no shortage of items to choose from. There are 14 food court vendors. The selection involves dishes from around the world, including Spanish paella, Hawaiian poke, Malaysian street food, Venezuelan food, Cuban sandwiches, ceviche, Belgian crepes, tamales, Filipino food, French macaroons and food from Mozambique. There are sausages and barbecue sandwiches. There are fresh fruit smoothies, Italian ice, gourmet coffee, cupcakes, cookies and some gluten free baked goods. Every one of the food vendors will package the food so customers can take it home.

In addition, the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market has artisans, jewelry designers and clothing vendors. The Cassitys purchased 15 bistro tables with chairs and umbrellas for the food court, and bought a new generator so they could bring in live music. A new performer has a karaoke machine and keeps things lively as visitors showcase their vocal talents for the crowd.

Most vendors accept credit, but there is an ATM at the market if anyone needs cash. 

The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market has a loyalty card that customer can get when they visit. Customers can have it punched each time they visit, and when they get 10 punches they are given a $5 credit to be used at any vendor in the market. 

The market is very family-friendly and has a treasure hunt that the kids can partake in as their parents look around the market. 

The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market encourages parents to bring their children.

“We are the only farmer’s market in San Diego that actually encourages you to bring your children. We want parents to create memories and traditions,” Beverly explained. “We are hoping that, by allowing the children to come, as they get older they can talk to the chefs and the farmers and the artisans and ask questions. Then they can create their own traditions for their families when they start them.”

Beverly learned a long time ago that little children can get bored and cranky as their parents shop at the farmer’s market, so she developed a program for the kids. Each Saturday she places a stuffed penguin at the booth of a new vendor. When the children spot the penguin, they can tell the vendor, who then issues the child a red ticket. The child can turn in the ticket at the information booth, where they are allowed to search through a treasure chest to select a free toy. The search helps keep the kids occupied, and then they can play with their new toy as the parents continue to browse. 

As the market has progressed, Beverly noticed something peculiar. There have not been many visitors from Scripps Ranch residents living in the older original part of the community, those from areas south of Pomerado Road, she said. Beverly figures the location has something to do with this fact. 

“We want to put out a large invite for all of them to come over and just check us out,” she said. “It will take them less than five minutes to drive to the farmer’s market.”

Beverly has run Cassity Productions, and has been an event planner for 50 years. She specialized in planning outdoor events for children and families. The first Scripps Ranch Community Fair was one of her projects. Mike had a career in upper management for Avis car rentals for 43 years. He now helps set up and take down the farmer’s market. Beverly and Mike, who met in the sixth grade, will have their 50th wedding anniversary in July. They are celebrating later this month with a trip to London and Ireland, but the market will run as usual. Farmer’s Market assistant manager Marjorie LaBeach will run the operation, as she has in the past when the Cassitys took leave.

Beverly and Mike created the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market nearly 16 years ago. The couple is semi-retired and they began the project mostly because “we have way too much energy to be sitting home and doing nothing,” according to Beverly.

Anyone wanting to run a farmer’s market must be either a farmer or a nonprofit organization. Beverly was not a farmer and chose not to be a nonprofit, so she partnered with Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School (EBS), which was about to open at that location and was in dire need of a fundraising project. So, the Cassitys created a contract that guaranteed EBS 65 percent of the profits. 

EBS had a small enrollment at the time, but grew quickly and eventually moved to its present location. However, EBS has continued to sponsor the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market, and continues to receive its portion of the profits. 

“We love the people we are working with at EBS,” Beverly said.

While the Cassitys may only receive a small percentage, Beverly said that’s all they need. “We’re not greedy,” she stated.

“If you come to the market, you see the smiles on all the faces of all the people, the shoppers, all the children. That’s payment you can’t put a price on. That’s what we love,” she said.

Visit srfm.org  

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