From Idyllwild we headed toward Sequioa National Park to see big trees. [ John here: Despite what Heidi says…. We *actually* went there here to HUG big trees, seeing them was a side-effect. ] I still needed to re-print one more tax form at the library, which didn’t open until noon, so we left Idyllwild pretty late. Also we needed to resupply, so we stayed overnight in Bakersfield.
It is widely known that most Walmart stores welcome RVs to stay overnight in their parking lots. We take advantage of this when we are on the move. We always find 24-hour stores so there are other cars in the lot throughout the night and have never had any problem, until we got to Bakersfield. A security guard was on patrol in the parking lot, driving up and down every aisle over and over again. John approached him and asked about staying in the parking lot, and the guard explained that Walmart leases the store and the property owner prohibits overnight parking. John asked inside and the customer service employee recommended Sam’s Club, next door. John has an app to locate camping and overnight parking spots, including a Walmart/Sam’s Club filter, which confirmed that other RVers have stayed in the Sam’s Club lot. So we drove to the next parking lot over, where the guard was not on patrol. We could still see him, but he he turned back at the divider between the two lots, and we parked there overnight with no problem.
I thought those of you interested in our van-dwelling life would like that story, but what I really want to talk about is an awesome farm stand. The following morning was Saturday, and Saturday is the most popular day for farmers’ markets. I used the power of Google to locate fresh, local vegetables. We found a fairly large farmers’ market in the parking lot of a shopping center. We scoped it out, then bought a couple bags of veggies at one stand before moving to the other large veggie stand, because I like to spread the love and purchase from several venders. This turned out to be a mistake, and I should have gone straight to the second vendor.
All the shoppers at the Gold Coin Farm stand were using large crates provided by the farmer to put their veggies in. We learned from the farmer while checking out that these are “Cream of the Crop” boxes, and there is a flat rate of $60 for as much as you can fit in the huge box. For perspective on how large this crate is, shopping separately we spent $90 for what we could have put in that box if we had learned of the deal before shopping at the other stand. Our purchase included a fair amount of heirloom tomatoes that were not excluded from this deal, though they are self-limiting as you don’t want to smash them. The farmer explained that potential customers complained to him that they couldn’t purchase his produce because it was too expensive, and asked if he could do an “abundant harvest”. I think this is a reference to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model where you pay upfront for a season and receive produce weekly from the farm. At first the farmer was hesitant, but he realized that it was his business, he could do whatever he wanted, and he wants to encourage healthy eating. So he implemented this “cream of the crop” offer, which moves product at a high volume and saves time at market because he is not weighing individual vegetables and adding up the final price. I was really impressed by his attitude, and the deal he offers to his loyal customers.
I am happy to be once again in a land of abundant farmers’ markets, to have access to high-quality fresh produce. It was heartening to speak with this farmer who is working to provide fresh produce to his community and the make it accessible.
April 4-5, 2014