On Saturday morning, not long before the kick-off of the Rose Parade, a new farmers market opened in the west parking lot of the Santa Rosa Veterans Building. The Redwood Empire Farmers Market is the fourth farmers market in Santa Rosa. For a summary of Santa Rosa markets, check out a recent post here.
On opening day, there were 44 stalls, 42 with vendors, one with a magician and one that serves as the market’s information booth.
When it comes to produce, there are three heavy hitters, Triple T Farms and Ortiz Farm, both of Santa Rosa, and French Garden Farm of Sebastopol.
Ortiz Farm currently has lettuces, salad mix, carrots potatoes, garlic, onions, several varieties of chard and kale, radishes, cilantro, cabbage, early zucchini, flowers and wreaths.
Triple T has a lot of plant starts, along with freshly-harvested garlic, garlic scapes, salad mix, spinach, favas, radishes, chards, scallions, watercress, basil, parsley and other herbs and eggs.
The French Garden Farm has artichokes, spring onions, favas, leeks, purple scallions, spring onions, carrots, cherries, Meyer lemons, arugula, chives, oregano, sorrel, frisee, Chioggia beets, flowers, salad mix and several types of lettuce, including Red Salad Bowl, Red Flame, Buttercrunch, Speckled Trout and Lollo Rossa.
La Chiquita Farm of Watsonville attends with strawberries. Scheteweitz Farms has apricots, white and yellow peaches, white nectarines, clementines, oranges and raisins. Neufeld Farm has a big selection of dried fruits and nuts and some fresh fruit, too, including apricots and nectarines.
Gourmet Growers of Petaluma attends this market with three types of mushrooms, white button, crimini and portabellas.
Robert Lambert attends with several varieties of apples, including Gala, Fuji and Cameo. These are storage apples from the 2011 crop; the 2012 apple season begins with the Gravenstein, which usually ripens in early August.
Several nurseries attend, including Skyview, La Vida Buena, Fulton Creek Nursery and Farm and Salvador Aguilar; these vendors have everything from summer vegetable and flower starts to hanging baskets of herbs. Neve Brothersof Petaluma has bucketsful of pretty flowers. Another flower vendor has day lilies and colorful mixed bouquets.
There are two cheese vendors. Bellwether Farms attends with their delicious sheep cheeses and yogurt and cow cheeses and creme fraiche. Dacheva Son’s Cheese Company has remarkably rich mozzarella, along with a large array of fresh and aged cow milk cheeses.
Felton Acres of Sebastopol, newly visible this season, has lamb, goat, pork, air-chilled chicken and eggs, some of which are from hens that eat no soy, a common ingredient in most animal feeds. Victorian Farmstead, also located in Sebastopol, has a big selection of fresh and cured pork, including honey-cured ham, sausages and thick-cut bacon, along with beef, lamb and chicken. Gleason Ranch of Bodega has fresh chicken, rabbit, lamb, pork, beef and sausage.
Santa Rosa Seafood has a large booth, with fresh fish and shellfish and smoked salmon.
Panorama Bakery of San Francisco sells hearth breads here. Cookie . . . Take a Bite sells its pristine little cookies, some gluten free, some vegan and some full of delicious butter and wheat. Nicky’s Flour Creations has a variety of breakfast pastries, breads, cookies and breakfast burritos. Sonoma County Honey has honey, honeycomb, honey sticks and beeswax candles.
When it comes to prepared foods, there’s plenty for your pantry. There’s jam from Just Like Grandma’s, granola from The Handmade Pantry and olive oils from the Olive Press of Sonoma and The Smoked Olive. Cook’s Spices is here, too, and on Saturday proprietor Kimberley Cook was excited about a new product she’d just found, powdered kaffir lime leaf. Leon Day–known on line as Chutney Man, has a big selection of condiments, including jams, jellies, sauces, dressings, chutneys, salsa, dessert sauces and more. Peppahead has chile powders, hot sauces and fiery barbecue sauce. The Hummus Guy has flatbreads, hummus and other sauces.
Mama Tina’s Raviolis always has samples of current selections, which on Saturday included Philly cheesesteak, butternut squash, artichoke, chicken paprika, sausage and spinach, mushroom cheese and more. Home Maid Italian Market Place of San Francisco has a large selection of pastas, pasta sauces, olives and more.
If you want to each on the spot, you have plenty to choose from. Nellie’s Oysters offers fish and shrimp tacos in addition to their popular barbecued oysters. Mai Ibach’s Authentic Tastes of Asia offers Vietnamese sandwiches and salads, along with sauces to take home. Republic of Paradise, a catering company based in Sebastopol, has island-inspired foods, including sandwiches, salads, noodles and fresh fruit sodas. There’s freshly brewed coffee from Bella Rosa Coffee Company.
There’s Kettle Corn, too.
Several craft vendors round out the market, with planters and toys from reclaimed wood, cotton wallets and bags, art, pearl jewelry and beautiful ceramics from Architectural Ceramic Design. There’s a computer recycling booth, too.
Saturday was a difficult day to launch a new downtown business, as the Rose Parade requires street closures and a change in traffic patterns. At 10:30 a.m., it felt more like a Wednesday market than a Saturday market, though vendors all confirm it was a successful launch, surpassing many expectations. The location on the west side of the building is a plus, as it is more sheltered from the noise of traffic, more intimate and shadier.
I returned on the market’s second day, this Wednesday, when there were 20 vendors arranged in a single compact aisle, which furthered the feeling of intimacy.
The Redwood Empire Farmers Market, founded in 2012, currently has no manager; managerial duties are shared by members of the board, primarily its president, Rob Cary. It takes place on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Veterans Building at 1351 Maple Ave. in Santa Rosa.