Hermosa Beach Farmers’ Market review

Weekly market is a welcoming and delicious way to engage with community members

PHOTO+BY+KATARINA+HAVEN+BECHES

PHOTO BY KATARINA HAVEN BECHES

It was a pleasant Friday afternoon when I waltzed into the Hermosa Beach Farmers Market with a rumbling stomach, eagerness to talk to total strangers and a trusty twenty-dollar bill located in my vintage tote. I’ve been to a fair amount of farmers’ markets, from Redondo to Manhattan, but had never laid eyes upon Hermosa’s market—something that was about to change. 

Similar to many, the first thing on my mind was food when walking into this market. I had a hard time deciding what to eat for lunch because of the options; I could go Mexican (burritos, tacos, quesadillas), French (crepes, a good old baguette) or even vegan if I wanted to (I did not want to). In the end, I decided to purchase a chicken burrito, which was a bit pricey at $10 but tasted like pure heaven, with fresh crunchy chips balancing out the deliciously seasoned chicken and classic Mexican rice. 

For dessert, I devoured sweet and salty caramel kettle corn with an eagerness parallelled by starving hyenas. I would have liked to try their lemonade, considering myself a lemonade connoisseur, but I had already spent $15 and wanted to save my citrus explorations for another Friday. 

The Hermosa Beach Farmers Market holds wonders; from freshly baked bread to mouth-watering lemonade and even foam trees made out of pastel shells, this market is a hidden gem. I felt like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” when one of the bakers tried to sell me his delicious bread, proudly proclaiming it was baked by him fresh this morning. 

Compared to my experience with other farmers’ markets, such as the Manhattan Beach one, I noticed that this one stood out because of its friendliness and a wide variety of stalls. Of course the usual suspects were present, from a crepe stand to balsamic vinegar and olive oil vendors that swore to heal all possible ailments to vibrant fruits and vegetables, but it also had unique stalls like Nibbs Club, a state and health department approved company providing quality dog and cat treats. 

Amy Huynh, owner of Nibbs Club. PHOTO BY KATARINA HAVEN BECHES

Amy Huynh, owner of Nibbs Club, might just be the kindest woman I’ve ever met. Wearing a sand-colored straw hat, she fervidly explained the premise of her stall and how she was drawn into the world of pet food.

“I got the inspiration because my dog was getting really sick from something neither myself nor the vet could figure out. We did a number of tests and he had really bad digestive issues. When we started doing an elimination diet, we realized it was because the food and treats that he was eating were of bad quality,” Huynh said. “I realized, if my dog was getting really sick because of this, then other dogs and cats must be getting sick as well.”

With a background in research and developments, Huynh perfected a recipe for healthy and clean treats for pets; now attending three farmers’ markets per week, she  delivers her product for what she affectionately calls people’s “lovebugs.”

Jon Ho, owner of Ho.listic Operations. PHOTO BY KATARINA HAVEN BECHES

Huynh was not the only one with an inspiring story. Perusing the aisles of this open-air market, I struck up a conversation with Jon Ho, owner of Ho.listic Operations, a microgreen company. Hon utilizes environmentally-friendly growing methods to conserve Earth’s finite resources. Charismatic as ever, Ho explained how a desk job wasn’t enough to fulfill his desire to fix some of the world’s problems, detailing vertical farming and sprouts with passion most reserved for their favorite celebrity or author. Although I didn’t invest in his miracle microgreens, Ho was, and there’s no other way to say this, a very cool dude.

Next up was the Bee Lady, as moniquered by the soap vendors who gave my friend free soap for no particular reason other than that she struck up a conversation with them. The Bee Lady, or Kathryn Bo, is the co-owner of The Olive and Grape Co., and she was more than happy to walk me through the various benefits of honey, bee pollen, real cinnamon (“Not the kind you’ll find at Starbucks!”), balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. 

Bo’s involvement with the farmers market began by happenstance when her older sister’s best friend Karen asked her to help her out selling honey at a market in Torrance. Bo’s friendliness doubled sales and soon enough she was given a Tuesday market. The business, formerly called Farmer’s Daughter, was evolving and thriving when Karen was badly hurt in a car accident. Still functioning, Karen poured honey for Bo to sell and the business was thriving up until Karen’s passing, due to an aneurysm caused unknowingly by her car accident.

The Olive and Grape Co., co-owned by Kathryn Bo. PHOTO BY KATARINA BECHES

When I heard Bo’s partner in crime had died, leaving Bo to partner up with Karen’s brother in order to carry out her legacy, I was shocked. Here I was, a mediocre school reporter sweating in a too-warm scarlet sweater because I didn’t check the weather, asking around for some interesting anecdotes or stories experienced by vendors, and I heard about one of the most difficult times of Karen’s life. 

This really opened my eyes to an important message: farmer’s markets are more than just pop-up grocery stores. They’re more than a delicious chicken burrito, caramelized kettle corn, or delectably ripe strawberries. They are communities, families, and hubs of life, buzzing with kindness and life stories you can hear if you only ask. 

The first thing I noticed when I was in the market was the happy-go-lucky community and beating heart of the market; almost all of the vendors know one another, help each other advertise, and are happy to strike up a conversation. The last thing I noticed was that even though a large majority of the vendors here have had tough journeys, they still show up, week after week, to sell their products and make small talk with people like me.