The Healdsburg Wednesday afternoon market began its 2014 season a couple of weeks ago and even though it is a small market by vendor count it is a big market when it comes to its selection of produce.
Autumn’s Garden, located on Pine Flat Rd. above Alexander Valley, has what I think are the first local Padron chiles of the year. The farm is also harvesting delicious green beans; carrots; zucchini and other summer squash; garlic and several varieties of onions, including storage onions, bunching onions and pearl onions.
Six Oaks Farm of Geyserville has the year’s first corn, along with onions, zucchini, lettuce, herbs and fennel. Don’t get too excited about the corn quite yet, though. They will not be at the market this Wednesday but will return next week, on June 25.
Hank Wetzel is back this year, with Little Gem lettuces, radishes, onions, beets, Green Gage plums, pastured eggs, olive oil and loquats, a rare treat.
Bernier Farms attends with their fabulous garlics, onions, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, parsley, small-leaf arugula and lettuces. They will likely have Padrons sometime soon, too.
Lou Preston attends this market and always has an interesting, diverse and delicious harvest. Currently, he has several varieties of berries, including loganberries, olallieberries, strawberries and raspberries. He also has several varieties of summer squash, beets, lettuces, onions, basil, squash blossoms, celery, kale, walnuts, broccoli and cauliflower that market manager Mary Kelley says is the most delicious cauliflower she has ever tasted, anywhere.
If you know Lou Preston, you know that he is passionate about fermentation and not just when it comes to wine. He makes extraordinary sauerkraut, which you can find at the market, along with his estate vinegar, fabulous breads and olives.
Reyes Family Farm has cut dahlias, strawberries and eggs from pastured chickens.
If you’re looking for local wild Pacific King salmon, you’ll find it here, from Fresh Off the Boat.
Wine Country Treats From Lila is here, too, with a line of baked goods that are “beyond gluten free.” For more information on these specialty baked goods, visit winecountrytreatsbylila.com.
Like all midweek markets, the Healdsburg Wednesday Farmers Market is struggling to find its niche, its customer base. For years this market was on the plaza but it moved to its currently location a few years ago because Tuesday night concerts in the plaza made it nearly impossible for customers to shop. Last year, the market returned to the plaza, but on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. This year, they are back in what locals typically call the Purity-Cerri parking lot, on North and Vine Streets, not far from SHED, where you can relax with a sip and a nibble after shopping.
The location has special significance to Healdsburg, as the Purity building saved a lot of local farmers during Prohibition by storing and shipping grapes to the East Coast. Home winemaking remained legal and so there was a big demand for grapes. Without the infrastructure that the Purity building provided, farmers would have had an even more challenging time than they did.
The building was scheduled for demolition but the community rallied and saved it. What does the future hold? No one knows quite yet so stay tuned.
The Healdsburg Wednesday Farmers Market, currently managed by Mary Kelley, takes place from 3:30 to 6 p.m. from the first week of June through the last week of October on North St., across from the parking lot where the Saturday market is held.