On Friday nights in Cloverdale, the farmers market is the place to be, especially for locals. Founded eight years ago, the market has blossomed as a community event since it moved, in 2008, to its current location in the middle of downtown. The city closes Cloverdale Blvd. for the evening and on a warm Friday night it can feel as if the entire town has shown up.
The market’s 2012 season opened with 55 vendors, up from 35 last year. Fifteen offer local produce and other farm and ranch products. Summer’s early harvest is well underway here and it’s a great time to make grilled zucchini and fresh pesto and to enjoy a fresh green salad with eery meal.
Farm O’Copia, located in Potter Valley, has vegetables, including early zucchini and, soon, tomatoes. Backyard Farm of Cloverdale has a similar harvest. Red Owl Farm, which also operates a CSA, has a big selection of herbs, along with summer squashes, radishes, onions, shallots, lettuces, garlic, cucumber, carrots, blackberries and strawberries and will soon be harvesting about a dozen varieties of tomatoes.
Red Owl Farm also has pastured eggs, as does Karen Sue’s Eggs.
Gourmet Growers, which attends several markets, has cultivated mushrooms, including white button, crimini, portobello and oyster.
Soda Rock Farm of Alexander Valley, a major purveyor of tomato starts for your garden, should be harvesting their first succulent tomatoes any minute now. They also have excellent basil, onions and a big selection of chiles, which are several weeks away.
Ortiz Farm of Santa Rosa attends this farm, with their abundant and diverse selection. They currently have lots of salad greens, carrots, radishes, braising greens, parsley and cilantro, zucchini, onions, potatoes, flowers and big dense cabbages that are perfect for cole slaw.
Sully’s Farm comes in from the Mendocino Coast with a selection of hand-gathered seaweeds, along with early summer vegetables.
Hamlow Ranches, located in the Central Valley, has peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, pluots and a selection of tree nuts. Neufeld Ranch both fresh and dried stone fruit, including extraordinary dried Rainier cherries.
Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese, located north of Willits in Mendocino County, is best known for its hand-crafted goat cheeses, which include several varieties marinated in olive oil, along with a tome-style cheese coated with ash; goat feta; bouchon, which is good for grating; several flavored fresh chevres and the elegant Tome du Corbier, an excellent after-dinner cheese.
Two vendors, Annie’s Floral Express and Flowers By Request offer cut flowers and bouquets and Succulents To Go has a wide selection of plants for your garden.
Old Chatham Ranch grows olives and cabernet sauvignon grapes in the Yorkville Highlands viticulture area and attends this market with its olive oil, which it has been producing since 2005. Extraordinary Blends has a selection of vinegars and oils.
Sixteen vendors offer foods to enjoy on the spot, including Island Ice’s Hawaiian-style shave ice, so welcome on a hot Cloverdale night.
Two dozen arts and crafts vendors round out the market.
The market has formed a partnership with the Arts Alliance, which organizes the live music that takes place in the town plaza, adjacent to the market. The market wraps up at 9 p.m. and the music continues for another hour. If you’re going only to shop, it is best to arrive as close to 5:30 p.m., when the market opens, as possible so that the sound doesn’t interfere with your conversations with farmers.
The Cloverdale Farmers market, founded in 2008 and managed since 2008 by Loretta Baker, takes place on Fridays from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. in downtown Cloverdale between First and and Second Streets. The 2012 season opened on June 1 and concludes on August 31.