The Saturday morning Oakmont farmers market has been popular with members of the retirement community and nearby residents for years and now there is a second weekly market, located in nearly exactly the same location. It takes place on Tuesday evenings between 5 and 8 p.m. from the first Tuesday in June through the last Tuesday of September.
On a typical evening, there are about a dozen vendors, though there is room for as many as fourteen.
Two vendors do the heavy lifting when it comes to a diversity of seasonal produce. Between Laguna Farms of Sebastopol and Ortiz Farms of Santa Rosa, you’ll find everything from basil, cilantro, parsley and other fresh herbs to all manner of sturdy greens, a huge variety of lettuces and salad mixes, cucumbers and red and green cabbages. There are excellent root vegetables, too, including carrots, two or three types of beets and red, gold and Chioggia beets, all with their good fresh tops, perfect for soups and for sauteing, intact. Poblano chiles are just starting to come on and there should be hot chiles–jalapenos and serranos–from Ortiz any day now. Ortiz often has potatoes and both farms are finally harvesting good tomatoes and eggplant. There is, of course, plenty of zucchini and other summer squash.
For flowers, you can’t beat Ortiz Farms’s extraordinary mixed bouquets, many with deeply colored sunflowers and, occasionally, royal blue gladiolas.
Although Ortiz Farms doesn’t usually sell eggs, they are the sole egg provider at this market and their eggs are only $4.50 a dozen, among the lower prices at any market.
Yvonne Lyerla brings her Gravenstein apples and pears, though she does not attend every week, as her harvest is sometimes small.
There’s a great selection of prepared foods and condiments. Jasmine Thai of Rohnert Park has excellent Thai food to either eat on the spot or take home and Betty’s Fish & Chips has hugely popular baked goods, like little fruit pies and an ever-changing array of cookies, including yummy chocolate-chocolate chip.
Nick Zaharioudakis has onion-based sauces and condiments, sold under the Porky’s Onions label. He also attends markets in Rohnert Park and Windsor. Jim Burns of Mustard Seed Farms attends with his hand-crafted mustards, which may be familiar from the Cotati farmers market.
Just as the Saturday morning market does, the Tuesday evening market has several crafts vendors, too. Una King, a writer, sells her wonderful children’s book about a Bay Area tug boat and Wanda Smith, who works for a new equestrian center in Petaluma, has written a gorgeous book called “Horses of the Wine Country” that she sells for $40 at this market. Rumor has it that the Queen Elizabeth of England has a copy. Joan Frey sells her hand-made purses and paintings and Jane Sels’s flower hair clips are hugely popular with Oakland residents, who buy the pretty clips for their granddaughters.
Sue Davis sells tiny little gardens in tea cups and twice a month there’s a knife sharpener who will sharpen your knives on the spot.
Although they are not hired to entertain, Hilda Swartz, who manages both Oakmont Markets, says that two of the vendors, Mustard Jim and Onion Nick, are the market’s comedians, keeping everyone cracking up even if the evening is slow. Janet Cook plays guitar and sings.
The best farmers markets are a reflection, in part, of their immediate community and serve as a gathering place as well as a place to shop for the freshest food. This is especially true of the Oakmont markets, which feels almost as if you are hanging out in someone’s backyard or local clubhouse. But if you don’t live here, don’t worry. Everyone is welcome.
The market is located in the south side parking lot of Wells Fargo Bank, at 6585 Oakmont Dr. in Santa Rosa.