By comparison with the Saturday market, the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market on Wednesday is tiny, with two short rows of vendors and a single central aisle. But this doesn’t mean it is not an important market. It is, especially to anyone in Santa Rosa who shops primarily at farmers markets or wants to. Having a midweek market is essential to a local, fresh, seasonal diet.
One advantage of the Wednesday market is parking, which is a breeze, making it easy to zip in and out on your way to work. Just be sure to have a thermal bag or cooler with ice and a bucket of water in your car so that your purchases will keep if you don’t have time to take them home first. Parking in a shady spot or using a sunshield is helpful, too.
In late June, the first of summer’s produce is abundant at this market. Ortiz Brothers Farm has beautiful zucchini blossoms, alongside very fresh mint, perky cilantro, arugula, spinach, kale, lettuces, two kinds of radishes and both yellow and green zucchini. As always, their mixed bouquets and slender stalks of gladiolas–including royal blue ones, which I had never seen before–are gorgeous.
Armstrong Valley Farm has enormous kohlrabi, two or three times the size of the ones from a week or two ago. These are good for slicing and grilling and also perfect grated into coleslaw. The farm has a diverse selection of summer squash, too, from familiar green and yellow zucchini to egg-shaped green striped squash, perfect for roasting whole and for stuffing, along with an excellent salad mix, fantastic garlic, basil and plenty of very good eggs.
Triple T Farms still has a variety of plant starts, along with a big selection of greens and both chicken and duck eggs but, alas, no quail eggs, which they sometimes have. It is the one thing that you need to snag soon after the market’s opening or miss out.
Renee and Joel Kiff’s Ridgeview Farms, best known for its huge variety of apples, is currently producing beautiful sweet peas and delicate French breakfast radishes with very fresh greens attached. Don’t simply discard these greens; they are delicious in salads, salsas and soups. The arugula is some of the best I’ve tasted, butter lettuce is tender and delicate. Mixed bouquets and zinnias are beautiful, too.
DeSantis Farm still has much of the citrus for which it is best known but also has the season’s first figs. big white ones that are plump and succulent. The Fresno-based farm also has green plums, a favorite of mine since I was about four years old, and apricots, peaches, nectarines, red plums, pecans, raisins and more.
Hector Alvarez of Hector’s Honey has both garlic scapes–perfect for stir-frying–and dried garlic, excellent eggs, ollalieberries and nopales cactus paddles, along with his selection of local honey, honeycomb and handmade beeswax candles.
Bohemian Well-Being Farm has a lot of shiitakes, along with white trumpet and oyster mushrooms, though the selection evolves weekly. There should be a maitake crop soon.
The Patch now attends both the Wednesday and Friday markets. Currently, they have big bulbs of juicy fresh garlic, huge white onions, delicious carrots, both golden and red beets and a lot of summer squash in nearly every shape and size. There’s also a good chance that they could be the first out of the gate with local summer tomatoes, as they are located in Sonoma Valley, where it is typically several degrees warmer than further west.
Speaking of tomatoes, there are both heirlooms and sweet cherry tomatoes from Rhodes Family Farm of Visalia. Cherokee Purple, a deeply-colored heirloom, are $5 a pound, pricey but worth it if you need to satisfy a tomato jones. Several varieties of cherry tomatoes, including a few Sungolds, are mixed together and are so sweet you can eat them like candy.
A couple of vendors still have both Bing and Ranier cherries. One of the fruit vendors also takes over the sale of two cheeses on Wednesdays, Bellwether Farms and the new Sonoma Mountain Cheese Company, which is introducing its new feta.
The Dream Catcher Ranch, located in Orland, comes to the Wednesday market with their delicious grass-fed meats, including lamb, goat, pork, beef and bison. Bones are not yet among the ranch’s offerings, but if you ask you might be able to arrange to purchase some. Kimberly Nicholes, who farms with her husband Richard, adds to the charm of the market with her spinning wheel, on which she spins her ranch wool from her Navajo Churro sheep into yard. She also sells wool.
Santa Rosa Seafood has a booth at the Wednesday market but it is much smaller than their Saturday stall. If Wednesday is the most convenient market for you, you can always contact the company through their Web site, santarosaseafood.com, and arrange a special order.
The Santa Rosa Certified Farmers Market takes place on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the east side parking lot of the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, at the corner of Maple and Brookwood Avenues.
Tune in to KRSH 95.9 FM on Friday mornings at 7:30 a.m. for “Crush Bites,” revived after a few years’ hiatus, when morning host Brian Griffith and I talk about what is fresh at the farmers market.