Springtime is always exciting around Bi-Rite Market, but this spring is particularly exciting because for the first time I can say, “springtime is exciting around both Bi-Rites.” With the one-month anniversary of the new Bi-Rite Divis just days away, we are busy building up our local seasonal produce displays in both stores. After a winter full of amazing citrus, apples and greens, the tastes of spring have arrived. All of our local growers continue to fine tune their farming skills, and every year the spring crops come earlier.
The early spring vegetable selection is my favorite! Winter crops like chicories and brassicas really kick in as the days get longer and the air stays cool. Spring alliums, green garlic and artichokes start sizing up and add wonderful flavors to our produce section.
Full Belly Farm (Yolo County, CA) takes advantage of the early spring and is one of our featured farms this time of year:
- Full Belly’s asparagus is so fresh when it arrives at Bi-Rite that you don’t have to cook it to enjoy its tender, sweet and grassy flavor. We’ll have the local grass until the end of May.
- Their spring cippolini onions and green garlic are always extra flavorful and taste great paired with spring veggies.
- The red leaf and romaine lettuce is super tender with a nice, crispy heart. Early spring can be a challenging time to source head lettuce. Most of the larger organic lettuce growers are switching from Southern CA plots to land in Central Valley, so the market price is high. Local growers like Fully Belly have a limited supply but offer fresher lettuce at a better price.Keep an eye out for specialty bunched greens like arugula, mizuna and spinach that come and go all summer long.
- I can’t forget to mention Full Belly’s amazing organic flowers. The Ranunculus bunches have a million colors, the Tulips are bright, and the Anemones are reminiscent of snorkeling along a coral reef. Look out for beautiful, seasonal bouquets!
- There are plenty of other small farms harvesting delicious veggies:
- Tomatero Farm (Watsonville, CA) has big and beautiful bunches of Lacinato, Green and Red Russian Kale. These tender leaves are great raw in a salad, sautéed or added to a super juice.
- Our good friend and local farmer Martin supplies both stores with his SF famous arugula. Even with the arugula and lettuce ‘capital of the world’ just south in Salinas, Martin always bring us the freshest product we can find.
- Willey’s Farm’s (Madera, CA) super successful crop of baby artichokes is going strong until May.
- Catalan Farm (Hollister, CA) continues to be the “Brassica King” with their tender sweet broccoli, big heads of cauliflower and crisp cabbage.
- Happy Boy Farms (Watsonville, CA) harvests plump and juicy Little Gem lettuce and delicate greens like rapini greens and watercress. Only a handful of growers consistently pull off high-quality greens like these – Happy Boy nails it!
- The sugar snap peas from John Givens Farm (Santa Barbara, CA) are perfect and will be in until May. The English peas just started up down south; they’re surprisingly big, sweet and starch-free. Most of the local growers will get going later this month.
Ramps are wild, pungent baby leeks with a tender, edible green. Due to their strong flavor, you only need a few to spice up a dish.
Fiddlehead fern fronds are the baby shoots of a fern tree; they have a crisp texture and nutty flavor.
The first organic rhubarb of the season usually comes from Washington in the first weeks of April. Just in time for the start of local strawberry season!
Fruit For Thought
- Swanton, Tomatero and Yerena Berry Farm (Watsonville, CA) are our main berry growers this season. These farmers grow varieties that work well in their climate, such as the “Albion” and the “Chandler”. Our farmers always harvest a perfectly ripe berry that stays fresh for our guests. Come try the first “melt in your mouth strawberries” today!
- California citrus is still juicy and delicious; both Markets have over 15 different varieties.
- The Pixie tangerines from Jim Churchill in mountains of Ojai, CA, are sweet like candy and a nice treat for the little ones — enjoy them until the beginning of May.
- Many varieties of specialty citrus are winding down. If you want to enjoy the Moro blood oranges, Cocktail grapefruit, Murcott mandarins and the Cara Cara pink navels stop in soon!