Farmers bring fresh tastes to The Ranch

If you’re a fan of farmers markets, here’s a new one you’ll want to try.

Just opened in May, the Sunday Rancho Santa Fe Farmers Market is an assemblage of some of the best local foodstuffs around, many of them here in our area for the first time.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center, which is right down the road, is a beneficiary of the market and receives 10 percent of the vendor profits each week.

The market also has special features such as taste-able demos by top local chefs. First to appear on May 16 was Paul McCabe of L’Auberge Del Mar’s Kitchen 1540, who will be back again in July. Other chefs will be scheduled twice monthly throughout the summer.

Market manager Raquel Pena is a Del Mar-based events planner who used to live in The Ranch. She likes farmers markets so much that she decided to start one herself.

Try the lovely assortment of organic greens from Maggie’s Farm, 60-plus acres in Agoura Hills named for the Bob Dylan song. Nathan Peitso, the friendly greens-man, is the son of new-wave farmers. In the early ‘80s, his mom was growing salad in Berkeley backyards with Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse fame. Then mom met dad, a Midwestern dairy farmer’s son, and they went to the L.A. area to make beautiful lettuce together. When they divorced, they split up the acreage, and two years ago, dad turned Maggie’s Farm over to his son.

“I tried to avoid it, but it’s in my blood,” Peitso said, smiling, as he offered a taste of his Stellar Mix, a selection of the sweetest baby lettuce leaves and herbs available that day on their farm.

And then there’s the ‘Shroom Shack, where Kenny Rosner offers an impressive variety of mushrooms, including morels and the popular maitakes. And if I get hungry while shopping, there’s Bella’s Crepes.

This is just the beginning. On tap is a special kids booth with cooking and gardening activities. Check the market’s website for new offerings and coming events.

If you go

What: Rancho Santa Fe Farmers Market

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays

Where: Del Rayo Village Center, 16079 San Dieguito Road

Contact: (858) 922-5135,