If you move a manmade beehive–technically a super–left or right while bees are out working, they will not be able to find it when they return. I thought of this Sunday, as I walked towards the empty parking lot where the Sebastopol farmers market usually takes place. I quickly realized vendors were contained in the adjacent plaza, a space generally filled with prepared food and craft vendors. But throughout the day, I heard both vendors and customers say, “When I saw the parking lot was empty, I thought the market had been cancelled.”
Why? a lot of people asked.
When the board took the market year-round, merchants near the plaza asked that the parking lot not be used in December, to keep spaces available to holiday shoppers. For the month, the market is in the plaza. There is just one market left this year, Dec. 18, as there will not be a market on Christmas Day. or New Year’s Day. It returns to its traditional space on Jan. 8.
On Sunday, activity buzzed like a busy hive; it was lively, cozy and intimate. The wonderful Black Sheep Brass Band, evocative of a New Orleans street band, added to the festive air.
Most of the familiar vendors attended, save Nancy Skall of Middleton Gardens, who is taking the month of December off from this market.
Orchard Farms, which has always excelled in cold weather crops, has leeks, purple turnips, shallots, winter squash, radicchio, celery, collard greens, daikon, beets, chards and more. New Family Farm has cabbage, winter squash including Hubbard, potatoes, celery root, carrots, beets, parsnips and, rather surprisingly, fresh tobacco.
Hector Alvarez’s current harvest seems more diverse than ever. In addition to his prized honeys and beeswax candles, he has sweet and hot chiles, tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, a few heirloom tomatoes, lemons, potatoes, apples, figs, winter squash, prickly pears, garlic and onions. Armstrong Valley Farm has huge cabbages, along with beautiful cauliflower, beets, onions, winer squash, carrots, kale, chard, eggs, kohlrabi, shallots, garlic, persimmons, and potatoes.
First light Farm and Oh Tommy Boy’s Organic Farm, which share a stall, have beautiful dry-farmed potatoes, red and green cabbage, braising greens, arugula, parsley and mistletoe. Triple T Farms still has a lot of chiles, along with salad mix, lettuce, braising greens, eggs and delicious farm-made hot sauces.
Twin Peaks Orchards has sacks of Satsumas, along with several varieties of persimmons, including the delicious Amagaki. Rainbow’s End Farm has delicious herb agua fresca and plenty of dried fruit, fresh apples, persimmons, pineapple guavas baked goods and condiments.
Fisherman Dave Legros, who has recently decided to attend the market year round, did a brisk business with local crab, wild shrimp, scallops, flounder and more.
Earthworker Farm has two types of garlic–Italian Underwear and Spanish Roja–little bags of edible flowers and micrgreen shoots and something I’ve never seen before, yacon, pronounced yah-CONE and also known as both Bolivian sunroot and Peruvian ground apple. Yacon looks a bit like a sweet potato and, raw, tastes a bit like a cross between jicama and sunchoke. It’s both delicious and refreshing.
Owen Family Farm has beef, lamb, veal, rabbit and acord-fed pork, along with pretty sheepskins. Bodega Pastures has a beautiful array of raw wool, dyed wool and yarn, along with gorgeous new sheepskins, including one in varied shades of grey that I couldn’t and didn’t resist. Weirauch Farms has its selection of delicious cheeses, along with hand-crafted cheese boards.
Despite the small space, there are plenty of crafts vendors with everything from holiday wreaths and African baskets to jewelry and clothing. There’s plenty of prepared foods, too, including gluten-free baked goods, Lata’s delicious curries and such, Mateo’s tamales and Rosso’s pizza.
With no rain in sight for the next couple of weeks, the final two Sebastopol markets of the year should be well-attended and festive, despite the nervous glances that shift skyward now and then, wondering if the high-pressure system keeping the rains at bay heralds the beginning of another drought cycle.
The Sebastopol farmers market, managed by Paula Downing, takes place on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the town plaza at the corner of Petaluma and McKinley Avenues.