Name: Gloria Cairns
Farm: Cairns Ranch
Location: Hillsides near Turnpike and Patterson roads.
What They Grow: Ripened Haas avocados, Meyer lemons, Bearss limes, Key limes, and tangos (a seedless mandarin varietal).
Where to Buy: Farmers Markets, including Tuesday and Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara.
In Season Now: Haas avocados, tangos, and Bearrs limes; Key limes will start arriving in July.
Their Story: For more than 21 years, Gloria Cairns has been a familiar face at the Santa Barbara Farmers Markets. One of the first vendors to sell avocados and a self-taught agriculturalist, she began farming nearly 30 years ago.
“When you live on five acres, you need to grow something!” said Cairns. “I love the people at the markets. I’ve made some very good friends over the years.”
Specializing in ripened avocados, her selection is known to be at the peak of softness and flavor. The mini Haas avocados have become quite popular as well, a fruit that flourishes in our temperate climate.
“We only sell fruit that is ripe and ready to eat — it’s what the customers want,” said Cairns. “Avocados like the even, mild temperatures. The weather has been wonderful. We hardly ever get rained out.”
The ranch also features juicy citrus, including the very popular Meyer lemons and Key limes, great for baking and home-made lemonade. “Everybody loves my Meyer lemons … They go fast!” said Cairns, while working alongside her daughter Jane. “They are very juicy and flavorful, with little acidity and a thin skin great for squeezing.”
Another unique market item is the tango, a new variety of fruit, home to the mandarin family. Seedless in nature, the fruit is easy to peel and very juicy, perfect for children and adults alike. And as always, it’s grown with care.
“I love what I do. It is great meeting everyone at the markets,” said Cairns. “Just look for the umbrella, and you will find me!”
Key Lime Pie
Grated rind of 1 Key lime
½ cup fresh Key lime juice
4 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk
1 stiffly beaten egg white
Mix first four ingredients and fold into egg white. Beat three egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add 1 tablespoon sugar. Pour Key lime mixture into baked pie shell and pile on meringue. Bake until golden brown. Server cold, garnished with fresh lime slice.