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New vendors add spice to Farmers’ Market

Monday, June 3 (10:00 a.m.): It was evident to vendors at Rossmoor’s first Farmers’ Market of the year how knowledgeable patrons are.

That’s what Arnulfo Mendoza realized from his booth along a stretch of Gateway’s parking lot. Among a handful of first-time vendors to this Farmers’ Market, he was representing Alex’s Family Bee Farm. Based in San Leandro, it’s run by Alex Perez, Mendoza’s nephew, in what’s indeed a family bee business.

Eager to describe health benefits that honey – particularly local varieties – can provide, he soon noticed that Rossmoorians are already up to speed.

“We love it; we don’t have to explain anything to them because they already know the products,” an impressed Mendoza said.

For those less aware of the buzz about honey’s benefits, Mendoza said that to ward off the worst impact of allergies, go as local as you can. That’s helped his wife, who used to suffer greatly from allergies. He featured a wildflower honey made in Danville that day, plus an orange blossom from the Central Valley.

“It has to be at least 60 miles around your area,” Mendoza said. “The more local, the better for your system. If it is from the same city, even better.”

To fight allergies, he said it’s most effective to take a yummy spoonful and not dilute it. But for other benefits, such as energy, skin, metabolism and more, or if it’s too sweet to go it alone, it’s OK to add it to tea, coffee or a food of choice.

Near the honey booth, Christinia Zimmerman was presenting another natural local product with its own reputation for making people feel better – homegrown bouquets of flowers. This was Zimmerman’s first time as a vendor at any Farmers’ Market.

With bouquets she’s made of cut flowers grown at her Lafayette home, just two miles away, and her fatherin- law being a Rossmoor resident, she decided to make the Farmers’ Market plunge. Her new “side gig,” Growing Z Flowers, was inspired by her late mother-in-law.

“She was such a stylish, graceful woman, and she really encouraged me to do what was passionate for me,” Zimmerman said. “She came up with Z Flowers.”

Closer to summer, she’ll incorporate her sunflowers, zinnias and dahlias. For this time, some offerings included varieties of roses accompanied by greenery, such as lemon balm.

“Many people have memories of their grandparents growing sweet peas or zinnia,” she said. “Some of them will see a zinnia and say, ‘Wow, my grandmother grew these, I love these,’” she said.

Along with invoking good memories, flowers also brighten someone’s day, as well as their home.

“It’s just a cheerful way to provide something beautiful to someone, and that’s what I really, really enjoy,” she said.

This is the market’s 25th year in Rossmoor, where it will run through Oct. 25. It’s run by the California Farmers’ Market Association, a nonprofit that also puts on similar markets in Moraga, at Shadelands in Walnut Creek and around the South Bay, San Francisco and San Leandro.

While there were several returnees, offering produce, hot food and even live music, it’s important to attract new vendors like Zimmerman and Mendoza. While there are around 180 such markets in the Bay Area, about 20% didn’t make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tyler Thayer, one of the market’s managers.

“We want to do some special things out here to get the folks involved in the market, too,” he added. “This is their market.”

In addition to vendors, information tables for Rossmoor clubs lined a stretch along the right side of the Gateway building, spilling into Peacock Plaza. Residents were there to talk about their organizations, causes and fundraisers. On this day, it was Neighbors for Safer Streets, Democrats of Rossmoor, Pickleball Club members promoting their Pickleball-4Parkinson’s fundraiser, and Friends of Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center, where Bertha Reilly emphasized, “We’re selling peace.”

Closer to the plaza was the Rossmoor Library book sale, with funds raised going toward buying new books and DVDs for the library.

Recreation Manager Zee Deleon said that while the deadline passed in April for priority dates, clubs still interested in exhibitor tabling can email him at for an application, or pick one up at Gateway administration, and turn it in as soon as possible. While there are no guarantees for tabling, he said he could be reaching out to new applicants if there are cancellations.

The Rossmoor Farmers’ Market operates every Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October.