People wouldn’t know “livable, lovable Lodi” without its beloved Downtown Lodi Farmers Market. It’s no longer just an event where people pick up a week’s worth of locally grown berries, squash, potatoes and tomatoes. It’s much more than that.
Now, it’s a community event that involves even more entertainment, more vendors and lots of neighborly competition.
“We totally redesigned the farmer market,” Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Pat Patrick said.
One of this year’s main changes has been relocating the center of the market to Pine and School streets, where the food booths and new Farm to Fork stage are located. To the north is a new wine garden that will feature acoustic and smooth jazz.
The beer garden at Lodi Beer Co. is in the same location, as is the rock ’n’ roll stage across the way.
Regular events will take place on the Farm to Fork stage. The biggest for the month of June are the weekly themed pie contests. The stage will also be home to other fun throughout the summer: Chef demonstrations, watermelon-seed-spitting contests, salsa contests and heirloom tomato tasting. Lodians can also share their ugliest tomatoes and longest zucchinis.
Of course, don’t forget the main draw — the fresh produce grown in the San Joaquin Valley.
Friendly faces: Meet a few of your local farmers at the market
Cherries from Gotelli Farms — Lodi
Who: Missy Gotelli.
What do you sell? Cherries — “They are nature’s candy.”
Favorite thing to make with cherries: I love doing chocolate dipped cherries, especially with the Brook cherries and and Golden Rainier. I go to Smart & Final and get the 2-pound bags of Sephra dark chocolate. It’s awesome. I melt the chocolate in the microwave, then dip refrigerated cherries into the chocolate.
What do you like most about farmers markets? Personally, I just love doing the farmers markets; I love the people. That is so much fun for me. We’re in our 20th season, and we have strong clientele in the Sacramento and Bay Area. I like the energy.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? I love spending time with my family, hanging by the fire pit and making barbecue.
Who is your favorite chef: My daughter’s boyfriend, Drew Rotner, who is a server and bartender at Rosewood. He is an absolutely amazing cook.
Rhythm & Blueberries — Galt
Who: Sherry Cotta, Rhythm & Blueberries
What do you sell: Organic blueberries.
Favorite thing to make with blueberries: Blueberry margaritas. There are whole blueberries in the margarita mix.
Best gardening tip: Blueberries need acidic soil, so they love being grown in a half a wine barrel. Wherever you grow blueberries, you have to acidify the soil using citric acid. You can use grapefruit or lemon juice. If you have redwood trees, they’ll grow well.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? Dinner and movie.
What do you like most about farmers markets? We like interacting with the people. We can’t have a family dinner without someone having a story about someone at the market. This is our first year in Lodi.
Cecchetti Olive Oil - Lodi
Who: Karen Chandler, who works with Cecchetti Olive Oil.
What do you sell? Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as flavored olive oil: Orange, lemon and garlic. We get our garlic from Gilroy, so when you taste that garlic, you feel like you’re in a field of garlic.
Favorite thing to make with EVOO: Pesto. I probably make it once a week. You can eat it with grilled chicken or steak. To make it, take a 1⁄2 cup of olive oil, add sea salt and fill the blender with basil out of the garden. Fill it full and turn the blender on. We like it to be as fresh as fresh can be. It’s great on sandwiches, too.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night: Probably barbecue with my friends, family and grandkids. I enjoy their company.
Who is your favorite chef? Richard Hyman; he owns Mezzo in Stockton.
What do you like most about farmers markets? Definitely the people and the kids. When the kids taste the flavored olive oil, they’ll run and tell their parents, “Try this!” We keep the kids involved in knowing where the olive oil came from.
Brag a little: Enter a good ol’ homemade pie contest
Have you been told that your cherry pie is the bomb? Have you watched with amusement as family and friends fight over that last piece of blueberry pie? Well, here's your chance to have all of Lodi talking about your baking talents. Enter the Lodi Farmers Market Pie Baking contest happening every Thursday in June.
June 6: The Inaugural
The Pie Contest is starting off with any fruit grown in the greater Lodi Area, but no mixed fruits.
June 13: Black and Blue
Contestants will show off their talents with locally grown blackberries or blueberries.
June 20: The Pits
Locally grown fruits with pits will be in the spotlight this week. No mixed fruits, one fruit only.
June 27: Anything Goes
Contestants need to use two fruits in their creations, but their imaginations can go wild after that: cobblers, single or double crust, cream (contestant provides refrigeration).
All pies must be made from scratch (no mixes, no cans), and need to be double crust without crumb or streusel toppings. Space is limited to 20 entries per week and entry forms need to be submitted to Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org or in person to the Chamber office at 35 S. School St. by 5 p.m. every Tuesday.
The fee to enter is $5. For additional information visit www.lodichamber.com. If you have additional questions, please call 209-367-7840, ext. 102.
This contest is intended for amateur bakers only.
Professional bakers or those who earn a portion of their livelihood from baking or cooking may not enter the contest.
Contact Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson at email@example.com.