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Seth Dolinsky

Spring Farmers’ Market Review

The Sonoma Friday Farmers’ Market at Depot Park is a Sonoma tradition that spans over 35 years. This outdoor event, set in the parking lot for Arnold Field, is the main source for Sonoma Valley folks to meet and shop with their local farmers and food producers. Running year-round Fridays from 9:00am – 12:30pm, these few hours afford us the opportunity for some of the best food available. A recent shopping trip provided a glimpse of what bounty the Spring season has to offer. The lines were already forming at 9:00am from eager shoppers looking to beat the crowds (and perhaps score some of the limited specialty crops and items found here).  I started at Mike the Bejkr’s booth, our local celebrity baker, known for using ancient grains, local ingredients, and always organic. Today the counters were brimming with baked goods – decisions, decisions! Fresh pretzels were coming out of the wood-fired oven, an easy first choice. Then for the sweet – ginger scones and the millet-hazelnut financier were the hard choices out of at least half a dozen.  A large pan loaf of the Einkorn bread, made with one of the oldest cultivated wheats, topped off my basket – and my bread budget!  Moving on down the line, Hector’s Honey has a large array of farm products - honey, beeswax candles, garlic, citrus, asparagus, and more. Ortiz Family Farm from Santa Rosa has big butter lettuces, kale, chard, beets and some nice tulips and daffodils.  Speaking of flowers, Oak Hill Farm of Glen Ellen, one of the market’s founding vendors, had fragrant white and purple lilac, pastel- colored ranunculus, pink tea-tree and lots of carrots, celery root, potatoes (including the fabled Bodega Red!), chard, arugula, lettuces, shallots, radishes and fava greens. Rhodes Family Farm coming from the Central Valley had spring onions, carrots, green garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, citrus and avocados, and, amazingly, zucchini! Farms coming from out of the valley, though not technically local, do bring in other items not available, though some would say we can work to produce more locally, but avocados are a stretch!  Rojas farms is another that brings a large variety of citrus, grapefruits, navel oranges and mandarins.  Paul’s Produce, another of the mainstays of Sonoma agriculture, had a line 20 people deep and growing.  Folks came for their famous salad mix, carrots, beet greens, kales, cilantro, brussels sprouts, asparagus, artichokes, leeks, and staple storage crops like butternut squash, onion and shallots.  Next door were free-range eggs by-the-dozen from Opal Moon Farm, with neighboring booth Sweetwater Spectrum bringing their fresh sprouts of all varieties grown right in city limits. Iconic Sonoma County dairy Strauss Creamery is onsite for all of your organic dairy needs, and Sonoma County Meat company provides locally raised meat – chicken, pork and beef. Rounding out these offerings are incredible edible and medicinal mushrooms from Bohemian Well Being Farm, the Hummus Guy with many varieties of hummus and Mediterranean fare, baked goods from Baker and Cook, smoked salmon and seafood, roasted and pour- over coffee and crêpes. All told, the Spring Farmers’ Market has everything we need for a well-rounded diet, providing opportunity for small local producers to sell direct and increase business viability and sustainability, all while offering us Valley residents some of the best things in life.   (Seth Dolinsky is Lecturer of Sonoma Valley Grange, whose motto is: Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy Community, and is owner of New Land Systems, a regenerative land management company)
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