Opening day at the West End Farmers Market offered an idyllic scene, as if I had just stumbled into an urban utopian novel. Couples lounged on well-tended grass next to the beautiful DeTurk Round Barn, eating lunch on porcelain plates as little girls in frilly dresses practiced somersaults and headstands. Dogs of all sizes chased balls and sniffed each other in the spacious dog park adjacent to the lawn, as their humans leaned on the fence chatting and offering an occasional treat. A young man with a Mohawk haircut strolled through the market eating ice cream while a shirtless tattooed guy wove his bicycle through the crowd and a young woman in a straw hat topped with a sunflower turned to watch the scene.
A mother chatted on her cell phone while three little girls–two related, one not–surrounded her.
“I’ve indoctrinated her in zero waste,” the young woman said into the phone as I walked past her to return a plate to Guerilla Foods’s booth, “and so I’ll be bringing her home fully brainwashed.”
On and on it went, little scenes of family and friends, dogs and babies, alternative fashion and environmental thoughtfulness unfolding beneath a soothing gray sky, as shoppers queued up at the tented booths that lined Donahue St.
Healdsburg Farm Fresh Eggs and Produce had plenty of eggs but was nearly sold out of their pretty sunflowers when I arrived around 11:30. Wise Acre Farm also had fresh eggs.
Tusque Farm did brisk business, too, with three kinds of zucchini, yellow and green summer squash and young Swiss chard all that remained. Pickings were getting a bit slim at Bloomfield Farms’ stall, too. There were plenty of sturdy greens–chards and kales–a small pile of fennel, salad mix, Little Gem lettuces, broccoli and just a few potatoes.
Handlebar Farm had carrots, zucchini, potatoes, kale, cabbage, basil, onions and pretty bouquets of zinnias but had sold out of lettuce and cucumbers.
Yerena Farms of Watsonville had plenty of organic strawberries.
Twin Peaks Orchards of Newcastle rounded out the produce selections with their peaches, nectarines and apricots.
As noon approached, prepared food booths did brisk business. Guerilla Foods was making grass-fed beef burgers, green onion pancakes, butter and egg sandwiches and open-faced egg, bacon and pesto sandwiches.
Penang Kitchen had a big selection of Malaysian specialties, including chicken satay, chicken Pendang, beef Pendang, fried banana rolls, fresh watermelon juice and more. Nourish offered organic smoothies and bowls of Straus yogurt and fruit. Nimble & Finn’s offered four ice creams–honey and roasted apricot; mint chip; strawberry sour cream and dark chocolate raspberry–and one sorbet, white nectarine.
Arlene Francis Cafe satisfied caffeine cravings with made-to-order coffee and also offered teas, baked goods, grilled cheese sandwiches and cold drinks.
Several bakeries participated on opening day, with everything from scones, shortbread, cookies and cupcakes to fudge bars, vegan banana bread, whole wheat crackers and all manner of gluten-free baked goods.
The Hummus Guy is here, too, with an array of condiments, sauces, salads and flatbreads.
And if you need a chocolate fix, the county’s best chocolate company, Gandolf’s, is here.
Several crafts vendors rounded out opening day, along with free valet bike parking. Plans are in the works for dog sitting for shoppers, too, as is now offered in Petaluma.
A few farmers and ranchers stopped by the market, surveying the possibilities. There is plenty of space for the market to expand and one hopes it will, especially with more produce vendors and meat, cheese, olive oil and seafood vendors.
If opening day was any indication, this should be a highly successful market and one that does not draw customers away from other markets. Although Sebastopol had light attendance on Sunday, I did not recognize Sebastopol regulars at the West End Farmers Market. It seemed to be an entirely new crowd and they seemed to feel right at home. For many, the market is in their backyard, or nearly so.
The West End Farmers Market, founded in 2013 by the West End Neighborhood Association and managed by Allen Thomas , is located on Donahue St., adjacent to DeTurk Park and Round Barn, between West. 8th and Boyce Streets. It takes place on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit srwestendfarmersmarket.com.