By Mira Reverente
The family-owned Verni Farms appeared to be the only vendor to offer over a dozen varieties of olives and more than 20 kinds of seasonal dried fruit. In addition, the Clovis-based business makes and distributes its own extra virgin olive oil.
One of the oldest foods known to man, olives also played an important role in Greek mythology. Last Saturday, though, Verni Farms’ olives were as fresh as they could possibly be, and Kalamata olives, named after a region in Greece and arguably the world’s favorite olives, were available in abundance.
Green olives in different flavors were top-selling items, too. There were green olives stuffed with garlic, green olives stuffed with jalapenos, spicy cracked green olives and the plain cracked green olives.
Employee Kirk Mosquera was handing out samples of the predominantly Mediterranean fruit to market-goers. Other varieties included black-green olives and the mixed olives in olive oil and garlic.
The price point was simple and straightforward. All olive varieties were priced at $5 for a half-pound tub.
Just like most consumer goods, olive sales fluctuate with the seasons. “It’s considered a summer food so we expect the demand to go up pretty soon as the weather heats up,” said Mosquera.
When olives are around, olive oil cannot be very far behind.
Verni Farms is one of the few farms in the area that produces and distributes its own extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. Made from green olives, extra virgin olive oil is less acidic than virgin olive oil.
Olive oil in general is often referred to as one of the “good oils” due to the high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants in it. Its good reputation can be attributed to a long list of proven health benefits including heart disease protection and cancer prevention. “Our olive oil is from the initial pressing of olives so it’s unrefined and in its purest form,” Mosquera said. For $15, pick up a liter of Verni Farms’ olive oil to take home with you.
Market-goers were clamoring for samples, keeping Mosquera engaged and constantly cutting up smaller-sized portions of the dried fruits.
“The dried cherries and the dried peaches sell really well here,” he said. Other dried fruits that were in season included apples, apricots, plums and gold raisins.
Some market-goers were intrigued by the fig selections. The black mission fig had black-purple skin but was pink on the inside. The white calimyrna fig on the other hand was green-yellow on the outside but had an amber flesh.
Almonds and walnuts also came in plain, roasted, smoked roasted and honey roasted. And just like the olives, all the dried fruits and nuts were selling for $5 a pound.
Aside from Calabasas, Verni Farms is in 20 other markets in the Southland throughout the week.
The Calabasas Farmers Market is open from 8 am to 1 pm every Saturday at 23504 Calabasas Road, across the street from the Sagebrush Cantina.