Saturday’s Oakmont Certified Farmers Market was smaller than usual, with about half the number of vendors that participate at the peak of harvest; some were on vacation and others engaged elsewhere on the holiday weekend.
It makes sense to take time off now. We’re in a shoulder season, as late winter crops wind down and spring crops struggle to hit their stride.
“If the sun ever shines for more than a hour,” a vendor at another market commented, “we might have more asparagus.”
It was a bad weekend for radishes, too, with none at any of the three markets I attended.
Ortiz Farms enjoyed brisk business, with their tables nearly empty by midmorning. There was still plenty of variety–leeks, beets, turnips, broccoli, red and green cabbages, arugula, scallions, chard, kale, lettuce, salad mix and cilantro–but not much quantity, and no potatoes or onions. A single farm bouquet rested in a bucket of water that had been filled with pretty flowers at the start of the market.
French Garden Farm was sold out of tangerines and Meyer lemons but otherwise had plenty of produce, including salad mix, red oak leaf lettuce, red flame lettuce, frisee, scallions, beets, celery, fennel, leeks, rainbow chard, huge heads of bok choy and a box full of Delicata squash. Although the farm’s popular microgreens are not yet making it to the market, there were a few bunches of herbs, including oregano, sage, mint and sorrel, which I think of more as a green, good both raw and cooked, than an herb.
Spring Hill Jersey Cheese has several types of goat cheese along with its Jersey milk cheeses, many of them flavored with aromatics, chiles and herbs. They also have salted and unsalted cultured butter, both of which are outstanding.
Jacqueline Aubin was doing double duty, offering both her excellent pastured eggs and Carson Catch smoked salmon, as fisherman Carson Hunter was headed off to a music gig at a nearby farm.
J’aime Patisserie’s selections included both sweet and savory treats, among them bacon-cheddar scones, hand-made pop tarts, sweet potato muffins, lemon ricotta muffins, apple bread, raisin bread, sugar cookies, macarons and several sweets to delight chocolate lovers.
The Lumpia King offered on the spot nibbles and manager Hilda Swartz sold her beautiful photo cards and chatted with a steady stream of customers.
With fewer food vendors than usual, there was plenty of time to chat with the local artisans and authors who also participate in this market. Their wares include gorgeous wooden bowls and cutting boards, tiny succulent gardens planted in tea cups, hand-made scarves, gorgeous wine bags and shopping bags made of sturdy fabric and books, including “Horses of the Wine Country” by Wanda Smith.
As the closing hour of noon approached and volunteers across the street arranged scores of plastic eggs for an Easter Egg hunt, several bikers rolled into the market on the most unusual bikes I’ve seen. Two wheels are attached to a bar that circles overhead, above the rider, who holds standard handlebars. But there are no pedals: The bike is self-propelled and is called a glide or glider bike. A crowd gathered around the riders as I walked to my car, smiling to myself at yet another delightful and entirely unexpected farmers market discovery.
The Oakmont Certified Farmers Market, founded in the mid 1990s by Hilda Swartz, takes place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at 6585 Oakmont Dr. in east Santa Rosa.