On Saturday afternoon, the Petaluma farmers market couldn’t be more appealing. The weather, with temperatures in the low 70s, is gentle, fragrant and evocative of fall, with summer’s harvest in full swing.
This market is well organized, with farmers located along Fourth St. and prepared foods vendors opposite the farmers and along a portion of E Street near Fourth. Craft vendors stretch through the park, between the other vendors and the bandstand, where live musician play throughout the afternoon.
Tomatoes are finally in colorful abundance, with Soda Rock Farm offering the greatest quantity and diversity. A Cherokee Purple felt so perfectly heavy in my hand that soon after I got home it played a key role in the second BLT of the season. Soda Rock also has an excellent array of chiles, including Padrons, Anaheims, poblanos, Gypsy peppers, bell peppers, serranos and jalapenos, cucumbers, eggplant and several varieties of basil. Soda Rock Farm is located in Healdsburg, where it is typically warmer than in Petaluma, and it is great to have this abundance offered here.
Anderson Organic Vegetables, which has a farm stand about five miles from town on Bodega Ave., presents their vegetables in a unique manner. At first, I thought they were sold out as very little was visible, just a few slicing tomatoes, some cherry tomatoes and some potatoes. But on a closer look, I saw that nearly everything is organized beautifully inside large labeled coolers, which keeps things crisp and prevents wilting. One by one, I opened the coolers and saw a remarkable harvest of plump spring onions, cucumbers, lettuce, green beans, carrots, beets and several types of summer squash. It was a beautiful secretive display.
Hector Alvarez of Hector’s Honey is harvesting a lot of produce these days, with sweet red onions, Walla Walla onions, cherry tomatoes, some of the first tomatillos of the year, bay leaves, plums, Asian pears, several types of cucumbers and summer squash, whole nopales paddles and garlic,
in addition to his large selection of local honey.
GVM Farm of Petaluma currently has popcorn, thirteen varieties of garlic, sweet onions, eggs, lettuce mix, bouquets of five types of basil, potatoes, Padron chiles, winter squash, summer squash and beautiful flowers. Petaluma Bounty has salad mix, lettuces, chard, kale, three types of onions, leeks, broccoli, chard, summer squash, carrots, beets, eggplant, cucumbers, cabbage, fresh herbs, strawberries and a few tomatoes. Laguna Farms’ harvest is equally diverse, with basil, shelling peas, cucumbers, radishes, Walla Walla onions, turnips, carrots, potatoes, beets, kale, fennel, tomatoes, Romano green beans and fresh cilantro.
Krout’s Sunset Farm, located in Sebastopol, has tiny Sugar Baby watermelons, Utah celery with roots still attached, purple potatoes, Russian kale, sweet red onions, Walla Walla onions, Rossa di Milano onions, Barlett pears, Romanesco zucchini, tomatillos and boldly-flavored garlic.
Bloomfield Farm of Bloomfield, Ortiz Farm of Santa Rosa, Let Us Farm of Petaluma and The Patch of Sonoma also have a huge variety of high-quality produce and flowers. Bloomfield Bees has a selection of honey and there are two vendors with plant starts.
Bohemian Well Being Farm of Occidental offers an intriguing selection of familiar and unusual mushrooms, including maitaki, my current favorite. Three Farms are still offering a great diversity of stone fruit, especially nectarines and plums.
Two local ranches have grass fed meats. Swallow Valley Farm, located between Valley Ford and Bodega, had a varied selection, including several types of pork sausage, pork chops and hocks, crountry ribs, bacon, whole duck, lamb, beef, beef jerky and bones, perfect for making stock and for pets. They also had a few baskets of beautiful strawberries.
Tara Firma Farms of Petaluma had a good selection of its grass-fed meats available, though they were not selling the produce offered at their farm.
Byerbri Olive Orchards of Corning sells its olive oils, available only at this market and at the Tuesday evening farmers market in Sonoma. Two Rock Valley offers its delicate goat cheeses, including a goat brie that is split and filled with a mildly-spicy jalapeno jelly.
Prepared foods include pretty little cupcakes; Ketel Korn; Redel’s roasted almonds; Sukhi’s Indian condiments sauces and breads; sauces and breads from The Hummus Guy; vinegar and olive oil blends from Nan’s Gourmet Foods; pastas and sauces from Home Maid Italian Marketplace and breads from Panorama Bakery.
Erica Burns-Gorman manages the Petaluma Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturdays from 2 to 5:30 p.m. from May 21 through November 19. It is located in Walnut Park, at the corner of Petaluma Blvd. South and St St. A second market takes place on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 8 p.m. from June 1 through August 31 in the theater district, between B and D Streets.
The coming Saturday, August 27, the market celebrates the Gravenstein apple. There will also be free craft projects for children and the Roz Tones will perform.