The Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market, one of Sonoma County’s year-round markets, is in the full glory of fall, with thirty-three vendors last Friday and thirty-five expected this week. Now that Halloween is over, the emphasis at the market is on Thanksgiving and, to some degree, Christmas, in addition, of course, to just-harvested produce. Oak Hill Farm has wonderful gourds, pumpkins and flowers for decorating your holiday table, along with their always-excellent produce.
They are one of two farms that have begun harvesting Brussels sprouts. Paul’s Produce of Sonoma Valley is also harvesting Brussels sprouts, along with outstanding carrots, winter greens and more. Andrea Davis, who farms a quarter acre in Sonoma, has a variety of fall produce, too.
Some of the vendors at this market will be familiar from other markets, especially if you visit several markets a week. Sam Kim of Occidental Well-Being Farm sells his mushrooms here, including the extraordinary Maitake, a species that is also known as Hen of the Woods. The Patch, located nearby, has summer squash, green beans, sweet onions and tomatoes, which should remain available through the month. Ortiz Farms has poblanos and other chiles, zucchini, potatoes, radishes, parsley, cilantro, cabbage, braising greens, flowers in vivid fall colors and more. The French Garden Farm attends this market and currently has an abundant and diverse harvest that includes spinach, baby radishes, breakfast radishes, acorn squash, butternut squash, delicata squash, several types of beets, Paris Market carrots, celery, green beans, garlic, salad greens, braising greens, apples, leeks, micro-greens and micro-herbs, several types of onions, shallots, parsnips, sweet peppers, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and strawberries. Hector Alvarez, who is the market’s honey vendor, also has a huge array of produce, including chiles, tomatoes, onions, squash, Cinderella pumpkins and tomatillos.
Jacqueline Aubin has excellent eggs, priced well below most other farm market eggs. Junko Cook has fresh apples from an orchard on Broadway St. in Sonoma; Charlie Sellers has succulents and Jesus Hernandez has gorgeous Sonoma-grown flowers.
Marin County’s Straus Family Creamery attends this market with their excellent milk, yogurt, butter and, sometimes, ice cream. Spring Hill Farms also participates with its array of cheeses and butter. Carson’s Catch has plenty of delicious smoked salmon. Adam Parks of Victorian Farmstead in Sebastopol sells his grass-fed meats here and the market also serves as a pick-up location for nearby members of the farm’s meat subscription.
“Beijkr” (pronounced “baker”) Mike Zakowski’s stall is hugely popular; customers line up for the hot giant pretzels pulled from the portable wood-burning oven that he pulls to the market by bicycle. His rustic breads are absolutely delicious, some of the best around. J & S Apple Juice, produced in Sebastopol, is available here and those who try it call it the best they’ve had. Ever.
Ridell Ranch has almonds and this Friday, the Hand Made Granola stall should be back; the owner was out last sick week. Jim Burns of Mustard Seed Farms sells his popular mustards and vinaigrettes here and the Hummus Guy offers an array of classic and flavored hummus (artichoke; roasted red pepper; roasted garlic; cilantro and jalapeno; black bean, chipotle and harissa; spicy and more), along with pita chips, couscous salad, yogurt-cucumber dip and roasted pepper tapenade.
Primavera Tamales sells its products–tamales, handmade tortillas, salsas and guacamole— at this market at wholesale or near wholesale prices. If you have a favorite tamale, this is a great place to stock up. Java Wagon provides hot coffee and breakfast breads.
There are a lot of crafts vendors at this market and there will be more as the winter holidays approach, with special holiday items and children’s books. Hilda Swartz, the market’s longtime manager, runs a tight, lively market, with a good variety of vendors and activities. With the Straus Family Dairy attending, you can get almost everything you need here, under the eucalyptus trees on a beautiful fall morning. If you live in Sonoma Valley, it’s hard to imagine shopping anywhere else.
The Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market takes place year round on Friday morning from 9 a.m. to noon. It is located across from Depot Hotel, in the parking lot of Deport Park on First Street West, a few blocks from the town plaza in Sonoma.