The Icebox Hawaiian ice food truck.

With convenient parking and a gorgeous view of the San Elijo Lagoon, the Cardiff Certified Farmers’ Market may end up being your new favorite North County weekend shopping destination. Rows of tents line the terraced parking lot at Mira Costa College on a sunny Saturday while live music from rotating local musicians and an eating area with tables allow marketgoers to unwind and enjoy newly purchased goodies. 

Vendors are split into three categories: prepared foods, fresh produce, and crafts and beauty items. 

“I like that you know what you’re going towards, whether you’re looking for groceries, a gift, or clothing,” says Alison Wielechowski, executive director of the Cardiff 101 Main Street Association. “We intersperse the prepared and specialty food vendors—like clean eating meals and hummus.”

In the prepared food aisle, there is a mix of food carts offering Hawaiian shaved ice by The Icebox and frozen yogurt by Froyo by the Sea. Chaupain Bakery tables are lined with rows of pastries—get the Danish and then grab a cold brew coffee a few tents over. You can dig into samples of scratch-made soup or bone broth and find new, locally produced foods for your pantry. 

With the bonus of having plenty of shade and a three-mile distance to Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Cardiff 101 chose the spot for its parking and accessibility. 

The market sells an array of eggs, vegetables, fruit, and meat from California producers. The Wonderland Farm tables are brimming with tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, and basil grown nearly year-round in containers and greenhouses in Encinitas and Vista. 

Hydroponic-grown tomatoes from Wonderland Farm in Encinitas.

“We’re in a community where we have access to where these (produce) are grown,” says Wielechowski. “The goal is to help this community develop an understanding that if we’re able to keep buying local and keep farmers farming, the money will continue to stay in our community. It’s the cycle of keeping our micro-community flowing and running.”

Did you know? Certified California growers must be placed together at Certified Farmers’ Markets. Find a list of Certified Producers by county (as of March 2023).

Seas Greens microgreens

This is one of seven markets that Perennial Pastures graces—using regenerative agriculture practices, they raise grass-fed beef on their ranch in San Diego County and sell animal shares, as well as packs of Ancestral Blend ground beef, liver, and heart at the market. Vista-grown, brightly colored microgreens in planters line the Seas Greens table. Angel Hills Farm from El Cajon offers cultivated Lion’s mane mushrooms. Rodney Kawano Farms from Oceanside and Vista offer seasonal wild mushrooms and produce like corn, snow peas, and broccolini. All in all, there are about 16 farm stands and Wielechowski is hoping to add 10 more vendors in June.

Sweet beets from Rodney Kawano Farms.

The vibe is friendly and vendors are genuinely interested in matching products to shoppers’ needs. In the third terrace full of crafted goods, Per Diem Design Lab showcases handmade soaps of lye, clay, and silk. Stop by the booth for a noseful of classic and new scents ranging from tea tree and eucalyptus to Bamboo Sugarcane and Red Currant Kumquat. 

Encinita’s Rad Wax offers a tingling peppermint chapstick, plus sunscreen for protection from the elements in a natural way. A core ingredient in their products is California beeswax and their commitment to plastic-free packaging helps keep the ocean clean, something we can literally get on board with.  

“This market is in the neighborhood for me and has a great range of customers looking for small sustainable brands,” says Rad Wax founder Owen Lysaught. “Customers are easygoing and looking to support local, unique vendors who offer products you can't find in most stores.”

Fully Loaded cold-pressed juices.

As a bonus, this market offers an array of family-friendly activities from market BINGO and face painting to a monthly surfboard swap and henna tattoos. Find locally made items you’re looking for and stay for the community you didn’t know you were missing. 

Visit the Cardiff Certified Farmers’ Market every Saturday 10am–2pm at Mira Costa College San Elijo Campus, 3333 Manchester Ave., Cardiff. EBT accepted and ADA compliant.

A farmers market haul—worth $70. Fully Loaded juices, cold brew and Moka Java beans from Libra Coffee, soap from Per Diem Design lab, strawberries and snap peas, flowers grown in Leucadia, and tomatoes and basil from Wonderland Farm.
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About the Contributor
Hannah Wente
Hannah grew up as a 4-H kid showing dairy cows. That grew into a passion for sustainable agriculture and public health. Today, she is a communications professional and freelance writer, and has held communications roles at several nonprofits including REAP Food Group, a Farm to School pioneer. She gardens a large community plot with her husband and grows enough raspberries, peppers and tomatoes to feed a small village. On weekends, you can find her at the nearest farmers' market or in the water.