Thursday, 15 December 2011

Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisans Market

I was in search of a Christmas market, online, instead, I came across the Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisans Market link. What was inviting was that for the holiday season the Artists Alley, featuring specialty arts and crafts, had been added. There is one more Saturday to catch this, December 17, and then things will be back to normal at this market.

Open all -year round from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., this market is set up in Chapman University's Historic Villa Orchards Packinghouse. The Villa Park Orchards Packinghouse was formerly owned by the Santiago Orange Growers Association (SOGA) which was organized in 1912 when a group of local growers got together to harvest, pack, and market their fruit products. It was the largest packing house for fruits in the city of Orange in 1918. The Villa Parks Orchard Association's (VPOA) operations were moved here in 1967, when SOGA went out of business.

Orange County was mainly planted to oranges in the 1940s. The orange groves comprised 65,000 acres of the territory. With the residential and commercial development in the county in the last five decades, the orange groves have been reduced to less than a 100 acres. 

In 2004, Chapman University purchased the packinghouse and leased it back to VPOA. By 2006, the packing operations had ceased and the plant was left vacant. Orange Home Grown Inc. (OHGI) - an association of long-time Orange residents, aims to work on cultivating a healthy community. Through educational programs for the families in the community, with emphasis on "wholesome nutrition, sustainable prices, health and fitness, and strengthening neighborhood and  community relationships" they have been successful in their efforts.

It is so fitting to find a market in this place, once a center for local farmers to pack their produce to market. In partnership with Chapman University, OHGI has organized the Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisans Market. Local California farmers and artisans have been given a place to bring their products to sell, to the community.

To my surprise, my visit here has turned out to be some kind of an educational tour as I learned new things. What attracted my attention were some of the banners' messages, which were succinct, descriptive, and question provoking in my mind.
Does this mean it's organic?   
I found bee keeper/honey expert, Bill Walter of Guerilla Beekeepers, to answer my question.

I have bought organic honey elsewhere in the world and have been looking for one, locally. According to Bill, the USDA has not formalized any standards to certify honey production as organic. Perhaps, it's understandable when you think about the population of the bee colonies who travel within a 6 mile radius in search of flowers to draw nectar from, to bring back to their beehives. In this case, Guerilla Beekeepers maintains their surroundings for their bee colonies chemical-free, pesticide-free, and also by keeping their bee colonies healthy through natural means. Therefore, no antibiotics are used to keep the beehives disease-free. Just regular maintenance. In my books, this is organic.

Bee colonies are so important in our eco system. They are nature's pollinator. They create a third of what we eat. We need to protect them and keep them around. This group specializes in residential and commercial honeybee rescue and relocation. 
Aside from their unfiltered honey that is produced in Silverado Canyon, Southern California, they now carry a rich, natural, nourishing line of facial and body products from the uncontaminated wax derived from the beehives.  

Organic produce from Ray's Ranch of Temecula

When people look to a nutritional approach to healing, organic raw fruits and vegetable play an important part in healing the body. Much of the websites that talk about the raw food diet, juicing, detoxification have their roots in the Gerson Therapy that was developed by Dr. Max Gerson in the 1920s. He found, through the process of elimination, that the foods that cured him of his severe migraine condition was by eating organic fruits and vegetables, and detoxification through coffee enemas. He passed on this diet to his other patients who also got cured, not just of their migraines but also of their other diseases. Eating organic produce is free of chemical, pesticides, and fungicides, which are toxins to the body and impair liver functions.

The nutritional approach to healing many serious conditions seems to be the most effective, and economical in the long run. Since natural treatment protocols cannot be tested in the laboratory, they are not FDA approved. I invite you to read about it, understand it, and try it. 

At Ray's Ranch, other organic foods can be sourced for those who want to eat healthy.

DeyDey's Best Beef Ever products come from their ranch in Santa Rital Hills. They are hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed, and "pasture raised.".

What a difference it is to eat grass-fed meat and poultry. They are more tasty, tender and leaner. With the promise of bigger livestock at an accelerated rate, farmers began giving grain feed to their animals. In time, it has been discovered that animals fed with a low-fiber diet have nice marbled meat but are higher in cholesterol levels. Back to basics. Livestock farmers are beginning to give the animals their natural food, grass. It's the same scenario with poultry.

Rancho La Viña's organically grown premium, coastal walnuts 

This is a first for me, to come across organic walnuts. When I sampled it, it was sweet tasting. That sweetness turns out to be characteristic of walnuts grown along the coast. It takes 5 years of maintaining a farm according to approved organic standards, with the use of only natural means, for it to be certified organic. Chemical and pesticide free, Rancho La Viña farms (since 1869) in Santa Rita Hills on the central coast of California continue to raise livestock and grow agricultural products suited to the soil and climate in the area.

If you look at a walnut, it looks like the brain. This will help us remember that walnuts are brain food with 15 to 20 per cent protein, containing omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin E and Vitamin B6. As nourishment for the nervous system, walnuts help us to be in good spirits as it has anti-depressant effects from the omega 3 acids.
Aside from a variety of walnuts, waiting to be certified organic is their walnut oil. This oil is manufactured from walnuts coming from three farms. Two have been certified organic, and the third one is in the process of being certified, soon.

So Good Gluten-Free Foods' line of products  for those who suffer from celiac disease and other auto-immune diseases

More and more people are being diagnosed with celiac disease, fibromyalgia, and other auto immune diseases. These diseases have symptoms that overlap, so it is easy to mistake one for the other. Going on a gluten-free diet is one of the major steps to take, to start feeling better. For the celiacs, being on a gluten-free diet is for life.

Lindy Pine, the chef and owner, draws from her personal experience of fighting an auto-immune disease. It is for this reason that she has created this line of products made in a dedicated gluten-free facility in Temecula.

There is more to see in this market:
From the Fat-Plant Man's stand - adeniums, pachypodiums, desert tropicals, and caudiciforms

To us, these are simply cactus varieties or succulent plants. Cliff Meng started as a hobbyist,  getting a cutting of this and that, or buying a plant each week, as a reward for giving up  smoking. After gathering a small collection of these beauties, he started to join shows. Propagating and selling them became the next thing do. Speaking engagements came after. This  has become his home business that supports him and his wife in their retirement. These all started about thirty years ago.

Using these plants in ornamental containers and landscape gardening have become the vogue.  You can see them in nurseries, specialty stores, in mall landscaping, and in some people's homes. If you know enough about them, they are easy to maintain. For a wide variety to choose from, get in touch with The Fat-Plant Man himself.

From Maureen Mac Donald of Springbrook Studios

Maureen works out of her kitchen to design her ceramic creations. It is something she had studied when she was younger, and got back into it after she retired from working an eight-hour job. This hobby has grown into her business. Here are her unique, hand built Christmas ornaments, bowls, plates, tiles, and other decorative and functional items. 

LOVE Propagation finds another way to send out the "seeds of love, peace and joy." 

Wear a button or a bandana to deliver this message. Or, give them as gifts. A bandana can be decorative as a fashion accessory, useful  to wrap or carry something, and in this case, a good way to deliver positive messages to others, to lift their spirits.

Love Propagation partners with local charities, donating a percentage of their earnings to help them financially. In the spirit of giving, let's join together to bring love, peace, and joy to others.

In the artists alley, there were other vendors of fashion jewelry and accessories. If you are running out of ideas, you may find gift items here for some on your Christmas lists.

Goodies from...

Debbie's Homemade Delights' baked goods and sweet and savory dips and sauces

Debbie offers a sampling of her products. I had a taste of the Basil Pesto and that was so good. Her baked products are served in several coffeehouses in Orange.

Cookies for all occasions, made from traditional Italian recipes by the Angel Bites Cookie Co.

A taste of their cookies brought me back to a memorable visit to as faraway as Florence, when I entered a shop there specializing in cookies. Amaretto is one flavor I like. For my order, I will take the biscotti to dip in my thick chocolate.

Prepared-food stalls:

From Mom's Specialty Foods - Mediterranean appetizers, taboule salad, pita bread, hummus, grape leaves and more

Our palates have become so international. Mediterranean influences in what we eat is so common, anywhere we go. There is a great variety of products from Mom's Specialty Foods, at this market. It will be so easy to have a Mediterranean meal ready in an instant, when you get home.

Tamales - a traditional, Mexican dish

It is made with masa - a starchy dough that is usually corn based. It is filled with different ingredients: pork, beef, chicken, cheese, sweet corn, fruits and vegetables in a variety of preparations. It is wrapped in corn husk and steamed in a flavored liquid. Delicious and filling! The early preparations of tamales are traced back to the Ancient Mayans.

The artisan bread selection from OC Baking Company

On a Saturday, it is likely that you will run into executive baker Dean Kim, himself, to  give you recommendations on which bread to use for your sandwich preparation or for your lunch or dinner bread pairings. With it's proximity to this community, the OC Baking Company's facility which is located in Orange, assures their  consumers of freshly-made daily bread. 

Sweet treats from Sweet Lilikoi Patisserie - French pastries, cakes, candies, and confections.  

This patisserie's pastries and sweets are made under the watchful eye of pastry chef, Louise Chien. If you love French pastries, you can find croissants, macarons and other sweet and delightful things that are typically French, locally made in Orange. 

This is a delightful market with something for the health conscious, the decadent in tastes, and the creative. It has attracted fabricants from Orange and the nearby cities, and the farmers from around Orange County. Come visit and see for yourself. 

As for me, there is an emphasis on my part to eat healthy. It's the natural way to healing, with no drug side effects. Eating organic foods makes a big difference in getting and feeling well, again. It is a blessing to have reliable organic sources in our midst, in the markets and in the stores. Thanks to the farmers who have continued or gone back to the healthy, natural, basic farming and production practices.

There is still room for more vendors to join this market. Vendor application forms are available at their  websiteThe market will be closed for the Christmas holiday, after December 17,  and will reopen on January 7, 2012.

Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisans Market
304 Cypress Street (corner Palm Ave.)
Orange, CA 92856

Sunday, 11 December 2011

San Juan Capistrano, Part 2: Basilica of San Juan Capistrano and the Serra Chapel

The San Juan Capistrano Mission is considered a place of historical, cultural and religious significance. The preservation of this place honors the different traditions of the American Indians, Spain, the Spanish missionaries, the Mexicans, and the other local inhabitants who have contributed to its heritage in the last  270 plus years. 
From this scale model, the location of the present-day basilica - Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano, is northwest of the original location of the historical Mission of San Juan Capistrano.
Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano

This is a Roman Catholic church in the city of San Juan Capistrano, California, under the Diocese of Orange. Its construction begun in 1984 and was completed in 1986. The design is patterned after the Mission's Great Stone Church of adobe construction, which was built in 1797 and seriously damaged by the 1812 great earthquake that hit Southern California. The present day church is twenty percent bigger than the original mission church, as designed by architect John Bartlett and built by Joseph Byron, Jr. of Alex, Sutherland Construction. 
The church's interior was designed by Dr. Norman Neuerberg, a historian, who painted the patterns on the walls. 

Dr. Neuerberg based his designs on studies he conducted on the Great Stone Church. He also visited the hometown of Fr. Junipero Serra (the founder of the mission) in Mallorca, Spain 

During the jubilee year of 2000, Pope John Paul II conferred the tile of minor basilica on this church. This status is granted o a church that has gained religious, historic, and cultural significance. This also indicate a special relationship with the holy See, as it is designated as a place where the Pope and the Petrine ministry are solemnly honored and supported. As a basilica, it becomes a major pilgrimage center. 

The papal crest, that of the reigning pope - at this time it is that of Benedict XVI, can be found outside the basilica, above the major entrances. To the pilgrims, this means that they are about to enter "a special place that is both honored and dedicated to the Holy Father." The other features in the basilica include the tintinabellum - the basilica bell located up in the bell tower situated to the right side of the sanctuary; the ombellino - the basilica umbrella once used to protect a traveling pope from the natural elements, found inside the sanctuary near the ambo (pulpit).
The Grand Retablo

Measuring 42-foot high and 30-foot wide, this sixteen-ton backdrop to the altar is made of cedar and covered in gold leaf. It is in the style of the 17th and 18th century Spanish and Mexican colonial retablos. At the center, towards the top, is the Holy Trinity - the crucifix, the ancient patriarch above the cross representing God the Father, and the dove to signify the Holy Spirit. 

Beneath is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At the different corners are Saint Francis - the founder of the mission's order; Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha - who was an Indian maiden; St. Joseph, and Blessed Junipero Serra. The retablo was designed and created at the Talleres de Arte Granda in Madrid, Spain, by 84 artists.

The tabernacle
A prominent side altar in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her chosen instrument, Juan Diego

Juan Diego was a native Mexican of little means and education. He was a weaver, a farmer, and a laborer. Born in 1474 in the town of Tlayacac in Cuauhtilan, about twenty kilometers from Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), he was a very spiritual man who made regular trips, on foot, to receive catechetical instructions and hear mass. His town was established by the Nahua tribesmen in 1168, and conquered by Axayacatl, the Aztec lord, in 1467. This was at a time when the war had ended a few years before and the religious fervor of the people was growing. 

On one of his treks to go to church, to pray for his sick uncle, he heard a sweet sound and climbed up the hill to see where it was coming from. There, he saw an unusual vision. There was a beautiful woman who appeared like an Aztec princess in what seemed like a bejeweled surrounding, who called out to him on Tepeyac Hill. She identified herself as the Virgin Mary and asked him where he was going. As he briefly explained what his task was for this day, she lovingly responded to him that his prayers were being heard. Then she  asked him to do something for her, to deliver a message to the bishop of Mexico. To this he bowed in submission and left his cares to the Virgin Mary, and he went about to see the bishop.

The bishop was skeptical to hear this message from the Virgin Mary, for a church to be built on the site where she appeared. It was to be a temple where she would show her love to all, her compassion, give help and protection, to listen to their prayers and laments, and to bring relief and answers to their prayers about their miseries and sorrows, for she was their merciful mother. The bishop asked for more information and proof as to the identity of Juan's celestial visitor.

With other things on his mind, Juan got sidetracked when he found out his uncle was dying. He missed his next rendezvous with the Lady. But, she met him on the path he had taken to let him know that his uncle was going to be cured and to go back to doing his mission for her.

After his third visit to the bishop, narrating the same course of events that led him to there, in the first place, the bishop had Juan followed, to track him down to see what he was up to. But they lost sight of him. Juan was saddened by the bishop's deaf ears to his message.  It had gotten harder to see the bishop in his subsequent visits, since the first time. 
During the fourth apparition, the Lady asked Juan to go up the hill to gather what ever he would find there. It was the month of December when freezing temperatures made it impossible for anything to grow, not even weeds. To his surprise, Juan found colorful flowers with the sweetest scent. He gathered them and carried them on his tilma (a blanket, cape) that he was wearing to keep him warm. When he showed them to the Lady, she asked him to bring the roses to the bishop as proof of who she was.

Juan went back to the bishop's palace to bring the proof that had been requested. But the servants and the other workers would not let him in. They wanted to see what he had in his tilma, but he would not let them. Thy grappled with him to take whatever he had, but when they opened his tilma, there was nothing but painted images. Finally after his long, persistent wait, and convinced that he had something important to show the bishop, they let him in.

Juan explained to the bishop that this was the proof being sent to him that he my believe the message of the Lady. As soon as he unfurled Juan's tilma, Castillian roses dropped down to the floor - a variety that did not grow in Mexico, and to the amazement of the bishop and the others in the room, the image of the Lady was imprinted on the tilma. With sorrowful hearts, they prayed for forgiveness for their unbelief and their actions.

The bishop took the tilma and placed it in the chapel and, thereafter, asked Juan Diego to show them the site the following day. Then, Juan wanted to go home. Accompanied by the bishop's people, they all met the uncle who had miraculously recovered and was happily up and about. The uncle, Juan Bernardino, told them the story of how the Lady had visited him to cure him and explained to him why his nephew could not come home, as she explained the reason for sending him to the bishop. 

The construction of the basilica began in 1531 with the design of architect Pedro de Arrieta, and completed in 1709. Juan Diego's tilma was transferred here from the chapel of the bishop's palace in 1709 and stayed there up to 1974. A bomb was planted in the church in 1921 by an anti-clerical activist. The explosion damaged the building's interior, but the tilma survived, with some minor damage. In time, the basilica started to sink as the city was built over a lake. A new basilica was constructed close to the original location. The old basilica, after repairs and renovations has been reopened to the public, and this is where the perpetual adoration is held. 

The modern-looking basilica - a circular building, was built in 1974 to 1976 by Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vasquez, who used a structural design with a major pylon to keep it from sinking. Next to Vatican City, this receives the next highest number of pilgrims who come to visit, annually. Our Lady of Guadalupe has been declared as the patroness of the Americas. 

Many wonder why Juan Diego was chosen as the deliverer of a very important, heavenly message, as invisible as he was to much of the society. As it is in most Marian apparitions, Mary our Mother, has appeared to simple-minded children. Matt 11:25, in Jesus' reply to those around him: "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike."

Juan Diego never got to see the completed church. He died on May 30, 1548 at the age of 74. He considered himself  a nobody - "a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf." In the eyes of our Lady, he who was of simple faith - walking 15 miles each time he went to hear mass, was the best instrument for her message to the world. He was canonized on July 31, 2002 by Blessed Pope John Paull II, and with this prayer he asked for his intercession: "Blessed Juan, you faced the skepticism and rejection from a bishop and the crowds to bring Mary's message to Mexico. Pray for us when we are faced with obstacles to our faith, that we may show that same courage and commitment. Amen." 

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12. Through her intercession, may there be peace and healing in our world. 

Continuing on our tour, a visit to the Serra Chapel in the east wing, was next.
The Serra Chapel in it's original state, dating back to 1782

On weekdays, there is daily mass at 8:00 a.m. On Sundays, a Latin mass is said for the Sunday worshippers, in the same tradition before the Vatican Council II changes were put into effect. 

The preservation of the remnants from the great earthquake in 1812 of the Great Stone Church and the other adobe-constructed buildings have been completed. Fund raising efforts are being done to continue with the preservation of this historic landmark -  with the Serra Chapel waiting to be the next priority. 
The faithful kneel down in front of the communion rail to receive Holy Communion. The retablo is original.
Santa Teresa de Avila

The design details in the chapel date back to Fr. Serra's time, giving us a glimpse of the art style from back then. A faux marble finish and the border patterns are inspired by their daily lives as farmers, with the use of plant motifs, the earth colors and and the color green. 
The ambo (pulpit) that is still in use by the mass celebrant, during the delivery of the homily
The original baptismal font
A peek at the central courtyard - this was were much of the activities went on during the mission's early production years.

Presently, a few rooms in the courtyard buildings are now used as showcases  for the display of artifacts used by the American Indians who were christianized and their lifestyle; some rooms are being used as offices.
On Mrach 19, on the feast of St. Joseph, people from all walks of life, from all over the world gather at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, year after year, to witness the miraculous return of the swallows. Preceded by the scout swallows a few days before, the main flock usually arrives at dawn and starts rebuilding mud nest on the ruins of the old stone church.

After their summer stint at the mission, the swallows all take off  on October 23, first, circling around the mission to bid it goodbye. As the circle has no beginning and no end, the swallows would be back again in the spring, making a full circle of their coming and going.

Less than a decade ago, on March 19, 2003, the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops conferred the status of national shrine to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. It continues to be a center for pilgrims to experience a deeper spiritual renewal and conversion, since the mission was established.

This historic landmark is considered to be the birthplace of Orange County. The mission is open for daily tours. With the addition of a parochial school and buildings for the use of it's parishioners, and the availability of the central courtyard for use for wedding receptions; corporate events; concert venue; shows featuring garden, arts and crafts, there is much going on here.

Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Tel. No. (949) 234-1300
Visitor Information:


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