Sanctuary market a treasure

I’m a resident of Japatul Valley. We’ve been here in East County since 2006 and enjoy the lifestyle made possible by living in beauty out here in the ‘sticks’. Since retiring from SDSU I’ve become more invested in exploring this area and discovering the hidden gems.

Last year a friend, who volunteered at Lions, Tigers and Bears, bought a couple of passes to the SD Animal Sanctuary and Farm through Groupon. We went and enjoyed a lovely day out with the animals. The place is nicely low-key, obviously well-maintained and run by people who care deeply about the animals who live there. This place is not a glossy, up-market showplace; I’m sure it’s a struggle to maintain the high quality conditions they’ve been able to create.

As a result, they seem to be getting creative: they have a fantastic food garden that they refer to as, I think, biologically responsible – it’s organic, but you have to organize and pay for the ‘organic’ certification and that may cost a lot of money that would otherwise go to feeding and caring for the animals. Just surmising.

I went a few weeks ago with a visitor, had a great time in spite of inclement weather. And I saw that they were selling vegetable grown in their massive garden – lots of different veg, common and uncommon, and different varieties than what you’d see at the local supermarket. So I bought some salad greens, spinach etc., and got a free kohlrabi to try! (Delicious, by the way). The prices are competitive. There’s a list of available produce on the big industrial fridge at the check in desk. Many items are available for immediate purchase. For others, they are picked to order, and washed (I realized that when I washed my spinach and the water was completely clear). The other fabulous thing is just how long the produce lasts: who doesn’t have a complaint about store-bought produce only lasting a few days before turning brown and inedible? I bought my bag of spring mix and it lasted well over two weeks in my refrigerator. It may have lasted longer, but it got eaten, lol. The produce from the Sanctuary is SO fresh; we’re just not used to that anymore and it seems sort of miraculous. Not only are their vegetables fresh, but they’re delicious. I recently bought some beets – they had three different varieties – and roasted them in the air fryer. They were Chef’s Kiss. You know, I’m not even really a big vegetable person; I recognize that I have to eat veggies to be healthy, but I’m no vegetarian. However, having this incredibly convenient, fresh and delicious option available may be changing both my mind and my palate.

There are lots of Farmer’s Markets throughout SD every week. I think there’s probably one every day of the week. But the Sanctuary should be thought of as our East County Farmer’s Market, available every day the Sanctuary is open. I really don’t want to drive into town, fight traffic, hunt for parking – all of that. It’s a beautiful drive to the Sanctuary, the offerings are varied and as fresh as can be got, and I feel like I’m helping feed a wonderful variety of animals. It’s altogether a win-win for those of us who live here in the ‘backcountry’ and I would love to see people learn about this not-well-known offering in our community.

Full disclosure: I live on Japatul Valley Road but have zero affiliation with the Sanctuary. I didn’t even know they had vegetables until a few weeks ago.

But after buying the first time I was sold and wanted to make sure the community knew about this new ‘service’.

I remember many of my colleagues at the college would drive out to the farmstand at West Willows (frontage road of the 8) to buy their fruits – many of which came from somewhere else entirely. That place has since closed, but I think people would be willing to drive out to the Sanctuary to buy their vegetables.

Joan Goodwin resides in Alpine.


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