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The Produce Project: Pop-Up Brings The Farm to The Arts District

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The Produce Project is hoping to bring a little slice of the Santa Monica Farmers' Market to the Arts District with their new weekly pop-up at Handsome Roasters. Today marks their second week of operation out of the specialty coffee shop.

"We thought it would be a good way to explore community without committing to a brick and mortar. There really is a need in the Arts District for food fresh food," says Shaheda Sadhal, one of the market's organizers.

Sadhal volunteered with Santa Monica Farmers' Market Supervisor and Good Food correspondent Laura Avery for several years before she and her business partner, Sarah Delevan, got the idea for the Produce Project. Delevan is also a veteran of L.A.-area markets.

The two saw a need in the Arts District, since it's still in its developing stages. The neighborhood seems to be responding well to having farm-fresh produce available on a regular basis. Sadhal and Delevan hope to eventually open a brick-and-mortar location, and are currently checking out spaces in the Arts District as well as other areas of Downtown.

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When it comes to the Produce Project's wares, the ladies prefer to stock produce from farmers who they have personally visited. They pick up produce from the Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday morning from 10 farmers who they've personally visited.

"We like to know where our food comes from, and we want to be able to say to our customers that we know this farm, we've been to this farm, and we know these families," says Delevan.

They are aiming to provide fresh fruit and veg for the Downtown set that aren't able to make it to the massive markets in Santa Monica and Hollywood on the weekend. Although there are other markets in Downtown, like the Thursday City Hall and Historic Core markets, this directly serves the up-and-coming Arts District community. Urban Radish will have a similar aim, but will not open until 2013.

This week's goods include Coleman Farms greens, eggs and chickens from Willy's, Maggie's Farm for herbs, Windrose Farms, and of course melons and heirloom potatoes from Wieser Family Farms. The duo is also picking up a special rogue shipment along the highway from The Garden of .... Farm in Los Olivos, who will be handing off two different varieties of lettuce, yellow starship squash, green pattypans, young Italian basil, and decorative flowers.

"Our goal is to keep it as close to farmers' market prices as possible," says Sadhal.

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The produce is laid out on Handsome Roasters' custom bar space in custom-made wooden boxes made from reclaimed wood, adding to the space's already ultra-hip look.

The Produce Project will be popping up today, and every Wednesday til further notice, from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Their website is still under construction, so the best way to find them is via their Facebook page.