For a small town, this health food store/café/farmers market, the Owens Valley Growers Cooperative can hold its own with any urban store and the views are better. The co-op came alive after Mairs Market, the only grocery store in town, closed its doors in 2012. Initially, the co-op was a farmer’s market for independent growers and small-scale agriculturists in the southern part of Inyo County including Big Pine. With warm temperatures and endless sunshine, gardens flourish in the desert. Tomatoes are ready by June in Lone Pine and Independence where the co-op also runs the certified farmer’s markets in those hamlets. It’s also a spot for local artists to show their wares, the mural on the outside of the store in worth the stop.
Café Oasis is a must see, serving soups and baked goods like clam chowder and maple bacon muffins and pouring Indy Roasting Company Coffee.
Hours vary, but in the summer, the café is open from 6:30-11 a.m. Wednesday-Sunday and Friday nights 4:30-7:30 p.m. along with a farmer’s market and delicious dinner special like Indian Tacos or “Plates” offering a variety of appetizers with locally grown fruits and vegetables. The market and café are located on the west side of Highway 395, across from the Chevron gas station, the only filling station in town.
Before the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power made its water and land grab in the early 1900s, the Owens Valley was known for its agriculture, such as apples, peaches and pears. The name of the Japanese Internment Camp up the highway, Manzanar, means “apple orchard.”
Check out the Facebook page for daily menus and events at Owens Valley Growers Cooperative.
Mike Bodine has been reporting on the small town news and gossip of the Eastside for more than 15 years.