On a cold, crisp Friday morning, the Sonoma Valley Farmers Market shimmers like a rough diamond. Vendors, wrapped in layers of coats, scarves and, offer smiles as warm as a summer sun.
Although this market is relatively small, there is a tremendous diversity of both produce, and other products, with heavy hitters like Paul’s Produce, Oak Hill Farm, Ortiz Farm, Hector’s Honey and French Garden Farm and small specialty vendors, some with a single crop, others with a diversity that rival the larger farms.
As the year draws to a close, you’ll find parsnips, carrots, celery, cabbage, fennel, several varieties of beets, purple kohlrabi, sunchokes, leeks, spinach, green onions, white onions, yellow onions, radishes, turnips, purple cauliflower, white cauliflower, broccoli, snow peas, all manner of winter squash, kales, chards, lettuces and salad mix, arugula, Italian parsley, rutabaga, celery root and potatoes, some as small as a pearl or nearly so, others bigger than your fist.
Among Oak Hill Farm’s harvest you’ll find fresh nettles, though the end of the season is near, Brussels sprouts and pea shoots, along with more than a dozen other crops and gorgeous ristras and wreaths. Paul’s Produce has some of the best Nantes carrots I’ve tasted this year.
There are a couple of vendors with apples, one with walnuts, one with seasoned almonds. Twin Hills Orchards has a good selection of citrus and excellent persimmons. There are beautiful local pomegranates, too.
Sebastopol’s Victorian Farmstead attends this market with their outstanding lamb, beef, pork and chicken and the market also serves as a pick-up location for their CSA subscribers. Carson’s Catch, known for its excellent Alaskan salmon–fresh-frozen and smoked–and cod now has live Dungeness crab from Bodega Bay.
One of the many treasures of this market is Straus Family Creamery of Marin County. Here, you can find their milk, half-and-half, whipped cream, sour cream, plain and flavored yogurts, butter and, at this time of year, eggnog, all organic.
There is plenty of prepared food, too, to enjoy on the spot or take home. The Java Wagon offers hot and iced drinks, including some yummy winter specials like Aztec Spice hot chocolate. They also have breakfast pastries. Lumpia King offers several types of lumpia, a popular snack similar to egg rolls from the Philippines. Primavera tamales are sold here for $8 for a package of four; they also sell them hot, to enjoy on the spot. Primavery also has tortillas. The Hummus Guy has its popular array of hummus, dips, salads, breads and chips. Mustard Seeds Farms has a big selection of specialty mustards. The Handmade Pantry has granola, lemon curd, yogurt and more.
A week before Christmas, a woman was making beautiful wreaths to order and there were plenty of art and craft vendors, selling everything from earrings, necklaces, bracelets, scarves, Christmas stockings, purses and pouches to birdhouses, velvet animal print wine and shopping bags, children’s books, ceramic art, body products and more.
Edgeworks Sharpening Service will sharpen your knives, scissors and pruning shears while you shop.
Hilda Swartz manages the Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market and also sells her gorgeous photo cards, a bargain at $2 each.
The market takes place a few blocks north of the Sonoma town plaza, across from Depot Hotel in the parking lot of Depot Park on First Street West. It operates year round on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.