The Los Angeles Farmers Market

On January 4, 2020, I was able to visit the Los Angeles Farmers Market. It is located at the 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue intersection, right next to the Grove outdoor shopping center. I was immediately intrigued by the location of the Market; the Grove seemed to be much newer, while the Market itself had quite the historical essence. It seemed interesting that they would be placed right next to one another.

The Market included a multitude of food vendors, stalls, souvenir stores, and other stores of unique product. One stall featured products that were only relevant to tea; organic, categorized tea leaves were displayed all around the stall, as well as different items one would use for tea (like a strainer, or a thermos). They also served tea. Another store was dedicated only to hot sauce – hundreds of bottles of hot sauce filled the shelves, all with different tastes and levels of spice.

Not only did they have unique stores and stalls such as the aforementioned, but I was blown away by the amount of diversity represented across the Market. From French crepes, to Indian Samosas, to Arabic Shawarmas – I don’t think there was a popular culture unrepresented. I was even more pleasantly surprised when I came across one stall that had real Turkish food! I am half Turkish, and Turkish food is my absolute favorite in the entire world. Yes, there are many Turkish restaurants in Southern California, but none have lent themselves as sources of traditional and true “homemade” dishes such as this one place. They had one of my favorite dishes that I can’t find anywhere else in America except in my mother’s kitchen – manti; a mini ravioli-like dish covered in yogurt and tomato sauce. They also had the Turkish version of Pizza – “Pide”! Not only did they have Pide, but they added a Western spin to many of the flavors – in Turkey, they don’t eat bacon or ham (porcine meat), but they had Bacon & Egg Pides! I enjoyed one, of course, since I myself love bacon (don’t tell my mom! Just kidding, I’ve already survived that encounter – barely).

All in all, it was unlike any place I’d ever been before. Yes, it was historical, but unlike the many historical places I’ve visited – which were treated as delicate, sacred, carefully preserved specimens – the Farmers Market was teeming with life and socialization. Families and friends gathered at the various stores, vendors, and the cafeteria-style tables to enjoy their day. It was like a modern day place of gathering, in a place with tons of history.

Now for the history. In 1880, a gentleman named Arthur Fremont Gilmore and his partner, both migrants from Illinois, purchased two dairy farms in Los Angeles. This was around the time that, as was learned in class, many purchases were being made by settlers moving into Los Angeles and investing in the farms and ranchos all over the region. Gilmore’s farm was the one to become the Farmers Market, while his partner’s became the Grove. After 10 years, the holdings were split between the partner and Gilmore took over the large ranch and its dairy. The market began later when several individuals rented out a portion of the land, parked their vehicles on it, and sold produce to residents in the area.

The Market developed throughout the 1900s and became the large gathering place that it is today. In 1952, CBS Television city was established right next to the Market, and so it served as a convening and eating place for those who worked there. It quickly became a location where celebrities gathered, as well, so it received much publicity in the media. Therefore, it became a tourist attraction over time. This reinforced what was learned in class, about how many places in Los Angeles became part of the “myth” and theme of Los Angeles being a wonderful place filled with celebrities and plenty of food, luxury, and fairytale (not taking into account the actual costs of living out such realities every single day).

Now it makes sense why two very different places – the Farmers Market and the Grove – are side by side. Their origins begin with the purchase of two dairy farms by two Illinois men; unbeknownst to them of what great Giants these two places would become in representing the City of Los Angeles and attracting tourism.

All history information referenced from Wikipedia.com, “Farmers Market (Los Angeles)” page.

– Written by Alara B.

One Comment

  1. AN

    Oh my gosh. I LOVE the Grove. I’ve been going there since a few years after it opened. I never gave much thought to the Farmer’s Market because I’ve been to so many. I was mostly engrossed in the American Girl store and now I stop at Athleta and Barnes & Noble.
    I had no idea that the Farmer’s Market had such a long history. To be honest, I thought they built it with the rest of Grove and just tried to make it look old-timey. I like your association of the Farmer’s Market and mall as a whole as being examples of the LA myth. I think there is some truth to the “theme of Los Angeles being a wonderful place filled with celebrities and plenty of food, luxury, and fairytale” because celebrity sightings are pretty common there and the food is pretty good. However, you’re right that frequenting there is not practical for the majority of people who live in the area. Thank you for sharing the Farmer’s Market’s history. It’s really easy to get distracted at the mall and not appreciate the architecture and history of the surroundings.

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