A little after 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, the temperature gauge in my car read in the low 60s but the sun was already quite warm as I parked and headed into the new Bodega Bay Farmers Market. By 10:30 a.m., customers searched for a shady spot to stand and chat. So much for Bodega Bay’s reputation as a year-round fog zone. The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful nor the setting, in a large field surrounded by trees, more idyllic.
The market, which launched on September 4, is small, with around twelve vendors, only half of which offer food. Yet there is a fairly remarkable diversity for such a small gathering.
Bloomfield Farms is the heavy hitter here, produce-wise, with tomatoes; purple green beans; cucumbers; golden, red and Chioggia beets; two types of cabbage; white and torpedo red onions; chard; two types of kale; salad greens, including frisee; broccoli and more. And sitting atop a wooden box was the most remarkable daikon radish I’ve ever seen; with several interwoven white roots and a crown of thick green stems, it make me thinking of a creature out of one of C. S. Lewis’s adult science fiction novels.
Two vendors, Marcella’s Delectable Comestibles and one as yet unnamed, offer an enticing variety of condiments and preserves.
Marcella Robinson of Cazadero has olives from her own trees, roasted eggplant tapenade, salsa, pickled hot peppers, brined pickles and more. She also sells Best Dog Ranch olive oil, made from her own olives and those of a neighbor, soaps, hydrosols, jojoba-based creams and beautiful wooden serving and stirring implements made by George Knowles, who lives in Oregon but is originally from Bolinas.
The unnamed farm offers tamales, several types of jams and salsas, including a moderately spicy yellow pear tomato, cilantro and serrano salsa, and such condiments as Asian plum sauce, French prune butter, strawberry daiquiri jelly, black mulberry Bordeaux marmalade and Satin Pear and orange marmalade. This stall also has pretty hand-made necklaces and cards.
Carson’s Catch, based in the town of Bodega, participates in this market with their excellent smoked Alaskan salmon. Freestone Ranch of Valley Ford has pastured eggs, grass-fed beef and, last Sunday, just-harvested fresh (not frozen) chicken. I took one home, roasted it and sighed with pleasure after my first bite. It is such a joy to have chicken this fresh and this good. Check out the web site if you can’t attend this market.
Bodega Pastures sells wool, yarn, flowers and a bit of produce, including basil, sage and other herbs, summer squash and kale. Another vendor offered hand-crocheted and knit items.
Rocky Farm, which is located on Meyer’s Grade, had a pretty array of delicious tomatoes–15 heirloom varieties, to be exact–along with lemon cucumbers, gorgeous chocolate jalapenos and several other types of chiles, including a fiery Vietnamese variety that produces a rainbow of colors on a single plant. The Vietnamese chiles are perfect for making Chile Water, a Hawaiian condiment. The farm also sells small round orange eggplant, and white eggplant.
If you’ve never tasted the delicious breads and baked goods from Raymond’s Bakery in Cazadero, this market offers a great opportunity. Their focaccia pizzas are delicious and they offer some gluten-free savory flatbreads, as well, along with cookies, several types of rustic hearth breads, including some of the best baguettesI’ve enjoyed in a while.
There are two hydrosol vendors, each offering a variety of products, and one vendor of natural, organic skin care items. Some people scoff at such offerings at farmers markets but I think markets are among the best sources for wholesome skin care products made with natural ingredients that won’t cause harm. I’ve been using a moisturizer that I discovered at the Sebastopol farmers market more than a decade ago.
Although they were not at this Sunday’s market, Achadinha Cheese Company participated in the market’s first two weeks and should return next Sunday. The Petaluma company makes wonderful goat cheeses that are not widely available so their participation in a local farmers market is a great thing.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, eliminating much of the morning shade, the parking lot began to fill and customers greeted each other like old friends, which most of them are.
“We started this market in part to be a community gathering place,” Charles Turner, co-founder of the market, told me.
He and his partner, Christel Runyan, an esthetician who sells her skin care products at the market, work as volunteer organizers and mangers. All stall fees go to the Bodega Bay Community Association, which owns most of the land where the market takes place (the county owns some of it). The association has a booth at the market, with coffee available for purchase. The Bodega Bay Grange co-sponsors the market.
The market’s first season will conclude on October 30.
Charles and Christel expect to open for a second season in May 2012 and hope to take the market year round thereafter.
The Bodega Bay farmers market takes place on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2255 Highway One in Bodega Bay.