Sam Edelman relishes his work as manager of six locations
March 20 is going to be an exciting day at the home of Sam Edelman in Goleta.
That’s the day three baby chicks are due to join Mr. Edelman and his family — wife Tera and sons, Nolan, 7, and Bowie, 4.
“This is something new for us,” said Mr. Edelman, general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association, which includes markets in Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta, Solvang and Carpinteria.
He won’t get to meet the new chicks, however, until he finishes his usual stint that morning at the popular Saturday market at the corner of East Cota and Santa Barbara streets.
He can be found there every week and also at the Tuesday afternoon market on State Street and Friday morning on Coast Village Road in Montecito.
“I enjoy talking to the customers about food and their families. It’s like a second family to me. Some people have been coming here for 35 years, others as recently as three months,” said Mr. Edelman, who recently received the Local Food Hero Award from the Santa Barbara Permaculture Networks
The honor is given annually to outstanding individuals or groups who help strengthen the foundation of food security in the community while also creating a vibrant local food economy, according to Margie Bushman, co-founder of the SBPN.
“This year, we thought the most absolute, most important people that should be honored are the Santa Barbara Farmers Market and all the growers who have kept us fed and nourished for decades through six markets at six different locations,” she said. “They took us through a very difficult year and made sure we were all fed and had the highest quality produce available.”
Wes Roe, the other co-founder of SBPN, added, “The farmers market has brought tourism, everything, down to lower State Street and the people. When State Street has suffered so much, the farmers market has been so instrumental in drawing people here during COVID and I think we should honor that. They have created an ecosystem through this farmers market that affects us all, and it’s really important.”
If Mr. Edelman were asked what he thinks about being named a Local Food Hero, he would probably answer modestly that he was just doing the job that he has held since 2005.
But the Santa Barbara native’s involvement with the farmers markets began when he was a student at UCSB studying for his bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, which he earned in 2002.
“I worked one or two days a week,” said Mr. Edelman, who graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1998 and attended Santa Barbara City College for two years. “I thought about going to grad school or doing something in the environmental field after I got my degree, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than spend my time working at the farmers markets.
For him, one of the best parts of the job is dealing with the farmers.
“They work so hard. I have so much respect for them. There are a lot of young farmers joining the market. Some are the children of farmers. John Givens’ sons, Matt and Bryan, are both active on the family farm, for example,” Mr. Edelman said. “Other farmers don’t have a family farming background. Most have mentored with more experienced farmers and then started to farm on their own.”
Mr. Edelman said he particularly enjoys the “array of customers” who frequently include celebrities like actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late chef Julia Child.
“Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were at the Montecito market several weeks ago,” he said. “People respected their space.”
Another aspect of his work are the weekly columns Mr. Edelman writes every Thursday for the News-Press. In Picks of the Week, he alerts readers to several items that are in season and will be available that week. In Fix of the Week, he uses one of the items in a recipe.
A recent Picks of the Week column featured “Young chicken quarters” from the Jimenez Family Farm, “Organic Gaviota strawberries” from Harry’s Berries in Oxnard and “Murcott mandarins” from local groceries.
“Roasted Seasoned Chicken Quarter” is among the featured recipes in his Fix of the Week column, which also notes that Mr. Edelman is host of “Farm to Table,” which airs live at 9 a.m. Thursdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station.
“I love cooking for my family. It’s therapeutic for me even after a long day of work. I have a passion for fresh produce,” said Mr. Edelman, whose favorite dishes include grilled salmon and roast vegetables — “whatever is in season.”
With the help of his young sons, he grows organic vegetables on a quarter acre plot at his home. His wife, who works in the corporate office of Carbon2Cobalt apparel company, also lends a hand.
“We’re planting sugar snap peas, tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash now,” said Mr. Edelman, whose spare time is spent with his family, which includes Tucker, a 10-year-old yellow Lab. “He goes everywhere with us. He’s my first-born son.”
Favorite activities revolve around hiking, biking and hanging out at the beach and camping.
‘We took our first camping trip with the boys at Refugio last summer, and this summer we’re going to Sequoia National Park,” said Mr. Edelman. “We’re an outdoor family.”