It is always so much fun when something new comes into season at the Farmers Market. Just as we were falling into spring, the first of the summer fruit is arriving at the Market. I was so excited to see cherries at the Market last week that I impulsively bought five pounds. Half of them are already gone, not even one day later. Cherries have always been one of my favorite fruits, and I always try to eat as many cherries as humanly possible during their short, but nonetheless delicious, time at the Farmers Market. Their season always seems to be ending just as quickly as it began.
Scott Erickson of Erickson Farms is a pioneer of cherry growing in Fresno County. Twenty years ago, Scott decided to try something new and started growing cherries in Fresno at a time when no one else was growing them. Now Erickson Farms has 160 acres located ten miles outside of Fresno County. They grow several varieties of cherries, all in the Bing family, that are specifically bred for growing in a hot climate, well suited for Fresno County.
Cherries like a climate that is not too hot and not too cold, temperatures in the 80’s and low 90’s during the day and in the 50’s at night. Erickson Farms grow Early Tulare, Brooks, Tulare (Steve’s favorite), and Rainer, a variety with a distinctive flavor and a white blush color. They are all very sweet. Gerald Miyaski, the foreman of Erickson Farms, runs their packing house and makes sure the cherries are picked every other day to ensure they are always fresh when they arrive at the Farmers Markets.
Erickson Farms attends thirty Farmers Markets per week ranging from Santa Barbara to San Diego and can be found at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market. Scott says the best way to enjoy cherries is to eat them fresh! Cherry season only lasts about four weeks, so be sure to stock up on cherries at each of the Santa Monica Farmers Markets and see how many of their stems you can tie in a knot using only your tongue!
SPECIAL EVENT NOTICE: Join the Santa Monica Farmers Market for our upcoming library panel discussion: There’s More on Your Plate Than Just Food. Join Market supervisor Laura Avery, Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill, Andy Fisher of Community Food Security Coalition, and Phil McGrath from McGrath Family Farms for a lively discussion about local food security, the politics of what we eat, and how it relates to you. Thursday May 15, 7:00 p.m. at the Santa Monica Main Library, MLK Jr. Auditorium