COSTA MESA, Calif. — La Bahn Ranch is one of the oldest vendors at the oldest farmers market in Orange County, the Costa Mesa Certified Farmers Market.
Chris Silva is a vendor for La Bahn Ranch, which sells eggs.
Silva's family owns the ranch where the eggs are produced. The ranch has been a vendor at the Costa Mesa Certified Farmers Market at the OC Fairgrounds since it started 40 years ago.
After initially closing because of the pandemic, the outdoor market reopened last summer and since then has seen a surge in business.
"I think people notice that these bigger events really do hurt smaller businesses. I think people have been more supportive and are more accepting of smaller businesses as part of their community," Silva said.
The numbers back that up. According to the market, business has doubled in the last year, in part because it caters to the entire community.
Laura is a Costa Mesa resident, and she's participating in the market's EBT Market Match program. She's exchanging benefits for wooden nickels to use to buy groceries – matching up to $20.
The outdoor shopping experience is something she far prefers to a grocery store.
"Now that businesses are opening back up, people want to be out and enjoy the fresh air," she said.
That's what the OC Fair is counting on come mid-July, when it's set to return to this site after being canceled last year. CEO Michele Richards says she couldn't be more excited to welcome guests back safely to the 23-day festival that's been around since 1890.
"Now that everybody's getting vaccinated and you have the opportunity to hug a good friend or a family member that you haven't seen in a while and how good that feels to just love on someone like that. That's what it feels like to have the fair come back," Richards said.
For all the cracks the pandemic has left, Silva hopes the togetherness "hatched" from it will be here to stay.
"I think people have come to appreciate what the intimacy is between shopping from your local farmers and even your local businesses," Silva said.