Hector Alvarez is one of several egg vendors at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market

Starting today, the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market is open an hour later on Saturday, from 8:30 to 1 p.m. Look for extended hours at the Wednesday market, as well, sometime this summer. I’ll post it here as soon as it happens.

Today is “We Love Our Bikes” day at the market and members of our local bike coalition will be on hand to park your bike for you and there will be prizes for those who ride to the market on two wheels.

The big news at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market this spring is that there are enough eggs to satisfy demand. By my count, there are six vendors on Saturday and at least three on Wednesday. As recently as last year, you had to arrive at the market a few minutes before official opening time or risk missing out. And once you’ve eaten eggs from happy hens who live in small flocks, it is impossible to return to commercial eggs. For everyone who relies on the farmers market for eggs, this is great news and just in time for Easter, too. (You’ll find egg recipes from Seasonal Pantry’s archives here.)

There’s still a good reason to show up early: Asparagus. Even with several vendors–Middleton Farms, Triple T Farm, Hector Alvarez, Armstrong Valley Farm–it can be hard to find if you arrive late. And nothing compares to locally grown freshly picked asparagus; it has a crispness and a delicacy that commercial asparagus does not have.

Another reason to rise early is to snag some of Bernier Farmscarrots. Because so many farmers lost crops during the recent heavy rains, there are not a lot of local carrots, though Armstrong Valley Farms may have a few bunches. On Wednesday, farmer Tom Noble told me he hoped some would be ready.

Other seasonal delicacies available at the Santa Rosa market include nettles, leeks, shallots, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes and the first green garlic, as thin as a pencil, all from Nancy Skall’s Middleton Farm.  Ken Orchard of Orchard Farms has wonderful sprouting broccoli, a mix of flowering broccoli and small dinosaur kale, salad mix and broccoli rabe. Both Hector Alvarez and Nancy Skall have garlic that has been stored properly and will get you through until this year’s crop is ready. Ortiz Brothers Farm has great greens, including flavorful cilantro, crunchy radishes and excellent cabbage. There’s a good selection of mushrooms, too, and there is still plenty of good citrus, including locally grown grapefruit, Meyer lemons, oranges and tangerines.

This market  has become a source for more than just local produce. You can find local breads, cheeses, butter, hand-made sausageslocal chicken, duck and grass-fed meats, sign up for a meat CSA, and stock your pantry with vinegar, olive oil, spices and spice blends. There’s a huge array of seafood, too; most of it is not local but it is all quite fresh. If you want fresh flowers, this is one of the best sources anywhere, especially on Saturday when Neve Brothers of Petaluma has a large stall.

Farmers markets have taken on the role that town squares once had: They inspire and reinforce community. If you have time, shop early, tuck your purchases somewhere safe and then linger over coffee, scones and other breakfast pastries from Worth Our Weight, home-made chai, grilled oysters, tacos, grilled sausage sandwiches and traditional New Orleans beignets.

A delicious taste of New Orleans at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market

The Saturday market is about three or four times the size of the Wednesday market. Some vendors attend both weekly markets; others attend on Saturday only and some attend just once or twice a month.

The market is located in the east parking lot of the Santa Rosa Veteran’s Memorial Building at the corner of Brookwood & Maple Avenues, across from the fairgrounds.