The Santa Barbara Farmers Market was named the recipient of the Local Food Hero Award on Saturday morning as part of the 13th annual Community Seed Swap.
The award was presented to Sam Edelman, general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association, during the weekly Saturday market in the Cota Street parking lot in Santa Barbara.
After receiving an award certificate from the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, Mr. Edelman, who is also a News-Press columnist, thanked the group and the community who have helped the market continue to grow.
“We are incredibly honored to receive this award,” he said. “It really is a testament of just how hard all of our local farmers work year in and year out to bring the community such wonderful food.”
The local farmers market was one of the first 20 markets in the state, and has grown to be one of the most successful and highly praised markets in California.
“We have such an incredible local community that supports us rain or shine, year in and year out,” Mr. Edelman said.
The award was given to recognize that more than 70% of the world’s food comes from small farms and gardens. It is given annually to outstanding individuals or groups that help strengthen the foundation of food security in the community, while also creating a vibrant local food economy.
Some of the market’s earliest growers were in attendance for the event, including Randy Wade, Tom Shepherd and Robert “BD” Dautch.
“This year, we thought the absolute, most important people that should be honored are the Santa Barbara Farmers Market and all the growers here who have kept us fed and nourished for decades — I think we take that for granted sometimes — through six markets at six different locations,” said Margie Bushman, co-founder of the SBPN.
“They took us through a very difficult year and made sure we were all fed and had the highest quality produce available,” she said.
Wes Roe, the other co-founder of SBPN, said that the farmers market is currently the “most viable economic force on lower State.”
“The Farmers Market has brought tourism, everything, down to lower State (Street) and the people,” he said. “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.”
As the event wrapped up, Mayor Cathy Murillo congratulated the annual Seed Swap event and recognized Mr. Edelman for his work helping local growers.
“I bow before you for all the good work you do,” she said. “You’re such a gentleman and what a presence that you have here.
“Thank you for reminding us to eat our vegetables.”