As West Valley residents enjoyed another Fourth of July holiday with backyard barbeques and spectacular fireworks illuminating the nighttime sky, many local farmers and growers were busily preparing for today’s farmers market in Woodland Hills.
The Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Certified Farmer’s Market is open today from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the main entrance of the hospital. Fresh corn, tomatoes, Asian vegetables, cherries and melons, among other organic produce will be available for purchase. Specialty items on sale include grass-fed beef and fresh juices and prepared salads. Vendors will offer samples of their fresh fruits and talk with shoppers about their organic offerings.
“We try to have a balanced market,” said Anne R. Epstein, market manager for the Southland Farmers’ Market Association, “providing something that’s good to eat and that’s good for the soul.”
The association organizes many markets at Southern California Kaiser Permanente facilities including nearby Panorama City.
The group was established in 1983 to aid local growers and farmers with locations to sell their fresh products. Today’s market features growers from Riverside, Palmdale and San Bernadino to name a few.
The Woodland Hills Kaiser market has been at 5601 DeSoto Ave. since 2007. With little to no advertising, those that frequent the market include local residents and hospital staff.
“We just stumbled across by luck the first time,” said Sabina Marks, who lives a few blocks from the medical facility.
“I was taking my son in for treatment and it happened to be on a farmers market day,” she said. “The fresh seasonally fresh fruit and veggies keep us coming back, especially in the middle of summer when we can get peaches and nectarines.”
The idea for Kaiser-site markets started in 2003 with Dr. Preston Maning from the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. What started as a curiosity, then passion, for natural foods turned into the idea of local organic farmers setting up shop at local hospitals and medical centers. Maning, an Ob/Gyn, responsible for instituting a pediatric neurosurgery unit at the Oakland location, is an outspoken promoter of using organic products in the healthcare world.
Kaiser Permanente’s philosophy of promoting healthy eating is also at the helm of the idea of bringing fresh markets to their hospitals. Having certified organic food, fruits and vegetables promotes healthy eating, leading to a healthy lifestyle.
Kaiser believes that fresh quality food should be accessible to everyone and recognizes government programs that provide assistance including WIC and senior nutrition programs.
This location’s farmers market is open every Thursday, year round, rain or shine except for the Thanksgiving holiday. Organizers suggest participants arrive early, as parking is limited.
For more information about the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Certified Farmer’s Market, visit www.kp.org/farmersmarkets.