It is finally widely recognized that farmers markets are the best destinations for seasonal produce, pastured eggs, grass-fed meats and poultry and, in many cases, fresh local seafood. But farmers markets are also increasingly a resource for pantry items and prepared foods, from oils, vinegars and spice blends to handmade sauces, jams, jellies, hot sauces and all manner of baked goods.

The Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market has a huge array of these products and now, when summer produce is at its peak and fall produce is starting, seems like a good time to focus on them. I haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to this element of the market primarily because I’m such an advocate of making everything from scratch. But we all stock our pantries with essentials that we don’t and realistically can’t make, there’s nothing like a homemade pie or scone made by someone else and sometimes we need healthy short cuts. Let’s talk a look at what’s available.
There are two primary olive oil vendors in this market, The Olive Press, located in Sonoma, and Stonehouse California Olive Oil, with groves in Oroville, near Chico. There is also smoked olive oil from The Smoked Olive. Vinegars are from Vivo Vinegar, which produces excellent varietal vinegars using the French Orleans method, and Bruno’s, which specializes in red wine vinegar. Kimberly Cook-Fallon’s Cook’s Spices–primarily her own spice blends, with single spices also available–is doing really well; she sources great ingredients and uses as many organic herbs and spices as she can find.
Peppahead features their huge array of sauces, like Mighty Red, Johannesburg Red, Chile Loco and Trauma. The company is based in San Rafael but ingredients are not sourced locally, which matters a great deal to some shoppers and not at all to others.
The Hummus Guy is a regular, too, with traditional hummus and several not traditional blends, including artichoke hummus, cilantro and jalapeno hummus and several others. The company also has tzatziki, tapenade, pita chips, pita bread and couscous salad. Again, the ingredients in these products aren’t necessarily local.
Pat Hicks of Just Like Grandma’s makes wonderful condiments, including orange-carrot marmalade, strawberry jam and a yummy hot pepper jelly, which all have a homey, Midwest comfortableness about them, just like the label promises.
Sabrina Kahn of Penngrove makes delicious jams and jellies using fruit from the market and sells them under the label Blue Moon.
Malaysian Mei’s Southeast Asian sauces and condiments quickly have become a fixture at this market. Red curry, green curry and peanut sauce all have passionate fans; if you haven’t tried them, you should–the booth always offers samples.
Not Your Mama’s Granola attends weekly, on Saturdays, and is hugely popular, too.
The Santa Rosa market really soars when it comes to baked goods. Worth Our Weight features a changed array of scones, fruit turnovers, bread pudding, brownies and, occasionally, individual Boston cream pies.
Flour Creations’ cinnamon rolls are quite popular, especially with early morning shoppers; you’ll also find pies, cookies and breakfast burritos at the booth.
Crumb Hither specializes in really good cupcakes with the right texture and good, true flavors, including, now and then, red velvet, a personal favorite.
Dominique’s Sweets, perhaps best known for ethereal French macarons, has outstanding fruit pies and galettes, too. Each nibble of a galette is like a little trip to Paris.
Bliss Bakery, based in Santa Rosa, specializes in gluten-free cookies, cupcakes, brownies, pies and a selection of savory baked goods. If you are looking for Mama Baretta of Penngrovem which also specializes in gluten-free baked goods, they are not currently attending the market.
If you need to take something home for a near-instant dinner, Mi Fiesta’s tamales and enchiladas are quite good, as are their accompanying sauces and salsas.
If you’ve been wondering where Sister Pie’s booth is, they won’t be back for a couple of months or perhaps a bit longer. But they will be back so don’t worry; you’ll get to enjoy one of their delicious meat pies again.
The Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market accepts CalFresh but is currently taking some time off from its monthly Savor Saturday, a monthly program that featured extra market bucks, cooking demonstrations and special information geared to CalFresh shoppers. The market has now used the grant money awarded for this purpose and is currently pursuing new grant sources so stay tuned.

Paula Downing is the manager of the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, which is held on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the east parking lot of the Veteran’s Building. There is a third satellite market on Thursday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to noon near the back of Coddingtown, not far from J. C. Penney’s back door. Both the Wednesday and Saturday markets operate year round. The Saturday market is both the oldest in the county and the largest.

As you have probably read, new controversy about the market is emerging, with a lawsuit filed by a member vendor. I’m not going to jump into the controversy itself but I would like to make a point. Before you take one side or another, look at the market itself: Does it function well? Is it successful? Is it well attended and are shoppers satisfied? Are vendors pleased with their market? In the end, these are the most important issues. Any farmers market must serve the community with a diverse selection of farmers, ranchers and other producers who offer honest, high-quality products.


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  1. Shana

    Unfortunately, Mama Baretta’s really yummy gluten-free multigrain bread, cornbread, fruity scones and other GF treats are not available at the market right now. You can still get them at Community Market on Mendocino, and at Andy’s Market in Sebastopol. SOOOOO good u can’t believe they are gluten-free.

    September 5th, 2011 6:12 pm

  2. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    They’ve quit attending? Thanks for the heads up. I’ll contact and find out what’s up, as I’ve been told they still attend.

    September 5th, 2011 6:20 pm

  3. Nancy Prebilich

    You neglected to mention The Smoked Olive! They’ve been at the market for the past couple of years.

    September 5th, 2011 10:15 pm

  4. Franco Dunn

    I have been a vendor at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market for a number of years. This is not work for me; I love to interact with both the vendors and the shoppers. The market is like a large family to me. Getting up early in the morning and loading up my truck and laughing with the people at the market is not work, it is a joy. Even in the winter in pouring rain we all laugh and shiver together. The market family is having an internecine tussle right now. As customers, I ask you to keep an open mind and not heap invective on one side or the other. Paula Downing is a dedicated, hard-working woman who has brought this market a long way. The Gleason Ranch people are hard working farmers trying to make a living. Please respect both sides in this disagreement.

    September 6th, 2011 1:50 pm

  5. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    They have been added to the text.

    September 6th, 2011 1:54 pm

  6. Mary Kelley

    Thank you for continuing to show your support for our Farmers’ Markets. We are so fortunate to have wonderful farmers and ranchers in Sonoma County, and the pantry items you mentioned are good complements to the fresh, local, seasonal produce.

    September 6th, 2011 9:40 pm

  7. ellen

    There are some others with instant goodies, as well. You have to come to the market to see all the good stuff.

    Sat -East -West The Afghan Gourmet – wonderful stuffed breads and dips. Mirella’s pastas, raviolis and pizza dough, Drakes Oyster’s and Smoke and Oak serve hot food at the market but also have things to take out., Costeaux Bakery and the three great cheese vendors DiBernardi goat cheeses, Spring Hill mostly cow some goat, and Bellwether/Dacheva Son’s sheep and cow cheeses.

    And many of the farmers have preserves, hot sauces or other items.
    Wild Rose Ranch has a line of fermented foods, Triple T has hot sauces, and Twin Peaks wonderful jams.

    There is a lot for non-cooks at both the Wed and Sat markets.

    September 7th, 2011 1:44 pm

  8. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    Thanks for adding these details, Ellen. Cheeses and breads have been included in other profiles of this market, as have the prepared foods (such as fermented foods and hot sauces) offered by produce farmers.

    September 7th, 2011 6:08 pm

  9. Sheri Paul

    Mama Baretta gluten free are the best I’ve ever tasted. I contacted her and apparently they have suspended the farmers market temporarity due to health reasons. They are still doing on-line orders right now and they are planning to resume the farmers market in January. I hope they come back, I miss thier yummy bread and those carmel cookies!

    December 8th, 2011 5:39 pm

  10. Debra Baretta

    Mama Baretta is back at the Certified Organic Market in Santa Rosa. We have moved to the Wells Fargo Center and we are there every Saturday from 8:30am-1pm. We specialize in organic, high quality, gluten free, allergy friendly breads, cookies and pastries!

    May 22nd, 2012 12:36 pm

  11. Morteza

    Solducky – I would take my 2.5 year old who had a BLAST at her first Indians game last week. She loved clapping when sonethimg good happened and everyone else clapped, or booing along. Our favorite ballpark snack is definitely the popcorn too! Oh, and hubby and my brother who loves baseball can come along too.

    December 29th, 2012 6:28 pm

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