Farmers Market Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Farmers Market Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Few things are as appreciated as the gift of good food. Whether you’re planning to make holiday gifts in your own kitchen using ingredients from the farmers markets or to purchase artisan products made by our farmers and vendors, you can be sure it will be enjoyed. Additionally, your support during the holidays helps to sustain small family farmers and artisans who work diligently year-round to produce premium quality products for our community.

The farmers market is a treasure trove full of delicious and enticing gifts. Many farmers and vendors offer special holiday items and are glad to help you select an assortment of items to create your own gift basket or a special hostess gift.

We are especially grateful for your support during the winter season — don’t forget the markets are open rain or shine!

Farmers Market Big Bucks
A bundle of our Farmers Market Big Bucks makes an ideal gift for friends, family or corporate gifts. (Shhh — Big Bucks come in very handy when you forget to stop at the ATM for cash before the market, too!) Big Bucks are used like money and can be used to purchase anything at the farmers market. Big Bucks can be purchased at the EBT booth — credit cards are accepted.

Handcrafted Cheese
For your holiday parties, be sure to include some of the award-winning sheep milk cheeses from Garden Variety Cheese and Schoch Farmily Farmstead’s cows’ milk cheeses on your party platters. Stop by their booths for a taste.

Locally Produced Olive Oil, Luxurious Soaps, and Handmade Chocolates
Perfect for the gourmand in your life, Belle Farms and Valencia Creek Farms both offer award winning, locally produced olive oil in several sizes, including just pressed 2015 Olio Nuovo in very limited quantities. Valencia Creek Farms offers beautifully wrapped handmade bath soaps that are made with olive oil, as well as a selection of decadent chocolates made with olive oil.

Local Honey, Beeswax Candles and Bee Pollen
Every foodie is impressed by the wide variety of raw, local honey from Amen Bee Products including a few rare varieties like avocado honey, poison oak honey or star thistle honey. Look for Lynne’s handmade beeswax candles, bee pollen and royal jelly. 

Holiday Wreaths
Few can resist the rare beauty of Astone’s Protea seasonal wreaths made from the exotic South African and Australian protea that they grow. Protea wreaths also make dazzling centerpieces on the table with candles. You’ll also find colorful holiday table arrangements, too.  

Living Color — Poinsettias and Potted Plants
Poinsettias are synonymous with the holidays and come in an array of colors, from pale ivory and soft pinks to vibrant reds. You’ll find an excellent selection of poinsettias at McCahon Floral and Rocket Farms. Cavanaugh Color, Pacific Rare Nursery, and Coastal Nursery also offer winter flowering potted plants.

Exotic Orchids
Who can resist the elegant beauty of an orchid? McClellan Botanicals and Rocket Farms offers a wide selection of potted orchids in various sizes that are surprisingly affordable. They make impressive hostess gifts. Assemble a few potted orchids together to create a striking holiday centerpiece. Ozzie-the-Orchid-Man sells spectacular blooming cymbidums that make a beautiful gift or a long-lasting centerpiece display for your home or office.

New Crop Nuts and Dried Fruit
Raw, roasted, or flavored, there is a fine selection of almonds, pistachios, and walnuts that available at the markets. You’ll find nuts at Stackhouse Brothers, Minazzoli Farms, and The Walnut Farm. And be sure to check out our recipes at Edible Paradise for making your own flavored nuts and confections. B & R Farms offers premium dried apricots and delightful confections of chocolate dipped apricots . Del Real Dates offers raw, organic, fresh Medjool dates — so delicious in baked goods, raw confections, and smoothies. Don’t miss the dried orange slices at Old Creek Ranch — add several slices to your holiday punch bowl, or add an orange slice to a hot mug of tea or cider.

Baked Goods, Coffee, Tea, Chai
Cookies, pastries and pies make wonderful gifts — assemble them in a gift basket with fair-trade coffee beans from Three Americas or a package of tea or chai from Malabar Trading Company. And for your caffeine-sensitive friends, San Benito Tea Company offers a unique selection of wild-crafted herbal blends. You’ll find award winning pies and morning pastries at Beckmann’s Old World Bakery, Companion Bakeshop, and fresh fruit tarts, cookies, biscotti and quiches at Sweet Elena’s Bakery and Café booth, along with their famous almond croissants, and other holiday treats. Malabar Trading Company offers their specialty Italian Almond Tea Cakes — perfect for a hostess gift, quick holiday dessert, or an impromptu tea party with a friend!

Gluten-Free Products
At Companion Bakeshop, you’ll find a wide selection of pies, pastries and breads — gluten-free baked goods are their specialty. Pensi Pasta Company offers a selection of delicious gluten-free pasta, pizza crust, and other Paleo-diet friendly products, such as sweet and savory almond breads, seed crackers, rolls, muffins, seed crackers, breadsticks, coconut macaroons, chocolate chip cookies, and vegan fudge.

Fresh Handmade Pasta and Sauces
Pensi Pasta Company, offers an unrivaled selection of uniquely flavored handmade pastas, ravioli, gnocchi, sauces, along with delectables such as marinated olives and roasted garlic. Assemble a selection of fresh pasta, a few sauces, a bottle of olive oil and a fresh loaf of ciabatta or francese in a basket for an extra special gift. 
 
Beautiful California Produce
Look around the market and what do you see? Glorious CALIFORNIA GROWN produce! Oranges, avocados, lemons, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, tangerines, grapefruit, Meyer lemons — fill a big, beautiful basket with the fruit that makes us famous, put a bow on it, and say no more. It doesn’t get better than this!

Specialty Preserves, Jams, Condiments and Sauces
Many of our farmers offer delicious jams, preserves, sauces and condiments that make delicious gifts! Check out Mello-Dy Ranch’s selection of berry toppings, sauces, and preserves. B & R Farms has a great selection of jams, chutney and sauces that are made from their famous Blenheim apricots. Fogline Farm offers pickled peppers and hot sauce. Swanton Berry Farm, Minazzoli Farms, Prevedelli Farm, and Old Creek Ranch offer fruit jams, butters, and sauces. Malabar Trading Company produces herbal Wine Gelées, signature Honey Crème spreads (rum, orange, and almond), fresh lemon curd, finishing glazes and unique preserves. Route 1 Farms now offers smoked paprika (both mild and spicy) and their delicious gold raspberry jam.   

Handcrafted Sauerkraut
Don’t miss Farmhouse Culture’s amazing selection of good-for-you raw sauerkraut in an array of flavors and Gut Shots (kraut juice) that are full of healthy probiotics. Pair the kraut goodness with some artisan sausage from Cowboy Sausage for the perfect gift for the grill-meister in your family.  

Artisan Pottery
At Parrot Ranch Pottery, you’ll find handsome handcrafted mugs, dinnerware, French butter cups, platters, vases, planters, and much more. Did you know that Jim-the-Potter, our resident ceramicist for more than two decades at the Aptos Farmers Market, invented the California vegetable steamer? His signature pottery piece is ideal for steaming vegetables and seafood. And it is not just a steamer; it is also an elegant serving dish. After the vegetables are steamed, place the steamer on its matching plate, and take it to your table to serve directly from the steamer. 

Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell 
How many other farmers markets can boast fresh oysters on the half shell? Stop by La Marea by the Sea for a quick fresh shucked oyster while shopping, or take home a sack full for a party. You’ll also find fresh shrimp ceviche and white fish ceviche.

Quick Pick-Me-Ups
Shopping is hard work! Stop by Lily’s Roasted Corn and Potatoes (with a great selection of toppings!) for a quick bite. You’ll find hot coffee by the cup at Three Americas, and hot chai by the cup at Malabar Trading Company. La Marea serves seafood tostadas. And if you’re shopping at the Friday MPC farmers market, stop by Kuki’s Gourmet Food Truck for a satisfying rice or noodle bowl.

Happy holidays to all — thank you for shopping at our farmers markets and supporting our amazing community of local farmers and food artisans!