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Quality of Life

How Cardiff's new farmers market may help keep small farms in business

Greg Reuschle is happy that a new farmers market is opening this Saturday in Cardiff.

He's a former engineer who has turned his farming hobby into a small business.

"I grow mostly greenhouse tomatoes, small amount of cucumbers and basil, as well,” he said.

Cardiff Farmers Market

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays

Mira Costa College
3333 Manchester Ave.

Reuschle owns the Wonderland Farm in Encinitas. He also has another small farm in Vista. Walking around the greenhouse on a half-acre plot of land he rents, he proudly shows off his tomatoes and basil. The cucumbers are grown at his Vista farm.

"So this tomato vine needs three more weeks to get full-sized,” he said.

He grows them in individual pots and waters them using a custom-designed irrigation system.

"I use a recirculating system which helps save a lot of the excess water that would drain away and reduces fertilizer," he said.

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Saving the environment and making farming more sustainable are part of the reasons why it's important to support local farmers markets, said Alison Wielechowski, executive director of Cardiff 101 Main Street, the organization that's putting on the Cardiff Farmers Market.

"When you come to a farmers market, when you go and you buy direct from the farmer, you're cutting out the middleman," she said.

At commercial farms, produce is packaged to be transported from the farm to a warehouse and then to the store.

"Then it's wrapped in plastic, and it's wrapped in paper. And then you take it, and you check it out, and you put it in an extra plastic bag," Wielechowski said. "So, when it goes, there's all this plastic that's used. Here, you're buying from the farmer; they're bringing it from their farm right to you. And we're cutting out that plastic, and we're cutting out that paper."

The local farmers markets are also another way for Reuschle to get new customers and break into another area.

“It's extremely critical," he said. "As a small one-person business, I need to get the highest margins possible.”

But, for him, it's all about the customers — many of whom are repeats. Some even tell him about the recipes that they have tried using his produce.

"Every week or so, I get a few customers (who) tell me about some new meal they’ve made," Reuschle said. "And sometimes I even get some people who’ll bring me a little sample.”

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