Having connected with several purveyors at The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, I knew I needed to see some of the places where all the wonderful food was coming from.
I focused on operations within a suitable travel distance from my home base in San Francisco.
The June Taylor Company in Berkeley, producer of exquisite, hand made, preserved fruits, was the perfect place to start.
I headed on the BART (San Francisco’s excellent rail system) to the North Berkeley stop and headed down toward the Bay.
Tucked amongst the Indian spice wholesalers, and other ethnic venues, I came upon June Taylor’s small factory called The Still Room.
Upon entering, I was greeted to the lively hum of the factory workers, and June, busily making fresh candied lemon peels and marmalade.
It was quite fortuitous to have found June at the market, because over the Christmas holiday I had received one of her bottles of tomato ketchup, as a gift, and found it extraordinary. Simple in its ingredients, and using only organic tomatoes, organic sugar, vinegar and spices, her ketchup reminded me of what good condiments should taste like.
As a farmer who also has a small food product line, I found viewing the production facility to be an excellent lesson in quality over quantity.
As June worked the stove, she offered advice on how to best assure the integrity of one’s product and the benefits of not growing too fast too soon. These are all choices, but it did resonate with me.
Along with her small staff of workers, June makes products year round (she works Saturday markets and takes some Sundays off, but not many), and works with an efficiency of a well-lubricated engine.
She could easily produce more with increased mechanization, but it is her insistence upon using only seasonal, local fruits and produce (when available, which is nearly all of the time) and doing it all by hand, which make for such a fantastic product line.
Quality is the name of the game. Her line of marmalades, conserves, fruit syrups and butters, provide the consumer with a range of products made with old world care and attention to detail. I will not lie to the consumer, her products are on the pricey side, but the quality makes it a most worthwhile buy.
I left June tending to her pots and the sweet smell of her success drifted with me as I walked back towards the train. If I had not gone to the farmers market I most likely would not have had this wonderful day.
Ah, how I love the market!