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27-year bond with farmers

Eggs, events, kettle corn and more keep the lines forming at Burbank farmer's market.

September 01, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

Fresh produce and a festive atmosphere are calling people to the farmers market in Burbank, which last month celebrated its 27th year of bringing farmers to town each week.

Sarah Dornbos, manager of the market held Saturdays behind Burbank City Hall, said she has a years-long list of farmers who want to get in. While other farmers markets offer everything from kettle corn to custom jewelry, the Burbank market focuses on produce and allows few non-farm stalls among its 34 vendors.

"You are coming to see farmers and meet the people who grow your food," Dornbos said. "That connection is important."

A handful of farmers have been coming to the Burbank market for more than 20 years, including Tamai Growers of Oxnard, Tenerelli Orchards of Littlerock, and Mike and Sons Egg Ranches in Ontario.

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On Saturday, a long line waited for the eggs Candy McFarland brought from Ontario. Elias Perales of Burbank said he wanted to steer clear of the salmonella-tainted eggs from Iowa making news across the country.

McFarland said she has seen generations of Burbank residents grow up.

"I had this girl who couldn't reach the table. Now she's a policewoman for Glendale," McFarland said. "It makes me feel old."

The Burbank farmers market is a not-for-profit organization, with proceeds from stall rentals going to the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center Foundation.

The market holds special events, including a Sept. 4 demonstration of composting by experts from the University of California Cooperative Extension program.

Other nearby farmers markets report growing interest in their events. Glendale hosts a market on Brand Boulevard on Thursdays; the Americana at Brand and Kenneth Village host markets on Saturdays; and the Montrose shopping district hosts its Harvest Market every Sunday.

Business is solid at the Harvest Market in the Montrose Shopping Park, according to John Drayman, the Glendale city councilman and founding director of the Sunday market on Honolulu Avenue.

Drayman said sales are up more than 10% over late last year and early 2010, with 5,000 visitors each week walking among the farm stands, craft and book stalls, grilled food kiosks and children's play area.

The markets cater to locals, with the bonus of adding foot traffic for other merchants.

"We have steady group of people who return week in and week out, hot or cold," said Dornbos. "We're grateful for Burbank."

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