July 13, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

The Original Farmers Market

By Joe Fasbinder

 

“Hey! We just found oil in our cowfield. Let’s start a farmer’s market!

That’s a very compressed version of what happened at Third and Fairfax.

In 1880 a dairy farmer named A.F. Gilmore and a partner (not named in the official history of the Original Farmers Market Los Angeles) bought a ranch together at was far from city lights. Hense, a dairy farm. Not yet Third and Fairfax.

In 1900, Gilmore, who had bought the land from his partner, found oil. And thus began Gilmore Gas.

There’s a replica of a Gilmore gas station on the grounds of the Original Farmers Market today. “All of the fixtures and gas pumps are original,” said Maritza Cerranto, a marketing specialist who works for the Farmers Market. “But it no longer sells gas.”

I bet your local farmers market doesn’t have a marketing director. The facility also employs a public relations firm.

But if the idea is to get the word out to the public about on the Farmers Market, there isn’t really a need.

On a recent Sunday, the place, at 6333 West Fairfax Street, was packed solid. The Original Farmers Market of Los Angeles is open seven days a week, most nights until early evening. Something else your local farmers market probably can’t top.

You might have guessed the market no longer has a producing oil field. You won’t find one of those up-and-down oil pumps on the property. The oil was pretty much gone by 1930. But at the height of the Depression, two entrepreneurs, Fred Beck and Roger Dahlhjelm, approached A.F.’s son, Earl Bell (E.B.) Gilmore, with “an idea.”

The “idea” was to open an outdoor market where local farmers from West Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley and Carson areas could sell their homegrown produce from the backs of pickup trucks.

How different things are today.

“I don’t know how many visitors we get a year,” said Cerranto, “Millions.”

As you enter the grounds, you’ll immediately notice there is a big, white clock tower announcing that you’re entering the Original Farmers Market. It doesn’t matter which entrance you use. There’s a clock tower at both ends of the park. “The one at Third and Fairfax was constructed in 1948, so I guess you could call it the original tower,” said Cerranto.

On a nice Sunday afternoon, it seemed there were millions of people there, sampling simple and exotic fare, from Corned Beef and raw fish (not together) to Starbuck’s Coffee. But it was hard to maneuver amid the bodies and harder still to find a vacant table. But at least one guy was getting through the crowds in a wheelchair, so I guess it’s handicapped accessible.

Even dogs get into the act.

Emily, the manager of the Dog Bakery (she didn’t want to give her last name) said that this was definitely the best business of its type in Los Angeles … though there are other locations that sell her dog treats. And they make all of those dog goodies locally. You can find dog cookies and pupsicles and even a few items for cats, plus the usual collection of leashes, collars and toys. Business is brisk, she said, in between dealing with customers.

Something you’re not likely to find in neighborhood farmers market.

Also gracing the Farmers Market is its famous newsstand, Which is “definitely the best one in the country,” said Walter Hernandez, who had been holding down the counter there for “fourteen or fifteen years.”

This is the kind of place where you can pick up a copy of Soldier of Fortune, Guitar Aficionado and the Times of London all in the same place. Oh, and they have cigars and gum, just like a regular newsstand.

The magazines seem to go on forever, from Readers Digest to the Jewish Journal (which is free) and best of all, everything is current.  You don’t have to wait a week for a new version of a magazine to come out before it shows up on your bookstore’s shelves. The newsstand in the Original Farmers Market has them right away.

It’s easy to say, the Original Farmers Market has it all.

You can dial into its extensive and very informative website at farmersmarketla.com

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