Like all evening markets, the Rohnert Park Certified Farmers Market, which opened for its second season on a rainy June 3, is as much a party as it is a farmers market. At 5 p.m. on a warm afternoon, it seems like the entire town is heading towards the fun; parking, even this early, can be a challenge.

Early in the season, produce vendors are outnumber by crafts vendors and purveyors of prepared foods, though the space is so big that there is plenty of room. Produce and craft vendors are in the parking lot, with musicians, community booths, service booths (iphone urgent care!) and food-to-eat-now vendors in the plaza, a configuration that makes it relatively easy to zip in and out for produce if that is your wont.

Yellow carrots have a more delicate flavor and texture than orange carrots

A new farmer, Cindy Guy of Guy Family Farm, has delicate yellow carrots and orange carrots, along with  European-style mesclun, Morello pie cherries, an English variety, and eggs. Raspberries, which Cindy’s husband was bringing, arrived after I’d left the market. This is the Santa Rosa farm’s first year and as the season unfolds, the harvest will increase. In addition to participating in this market and the Petaluma markets on both Wednesdays and Saturday, Guy Family Farm also offers a CSA. For more information about the farm and its weekly boxes, click here.

Cherry Pie, anyone?

The Patch, one of the county’s most diverse and productive small farms, has beautiful fresh garlic, green zucchini and yellow summer squash, carrots, beets, onions and more. This farm, which is located in Sonoma Valley, is often one of the first out of the gate with local tomatoes (and peppers, too), so pay attention: It won’t be long before it’s time for the season’s first BLT.

Santa Rosa’s Ortiz Brothers, another prolific family farm, has a beautiful selection of radishes, cilantro, carrots, broccoli, white turnips, red beets and a big selection of greens, along with beautiful mixed bouquets and long stems of golden gladiolas.

Beautiful gladiolas from Ortiz Brothers Farm

Valley End Farms of south Santa Rosa was showing examples of its CSA boxes. Senk Farms of Santa Rosa had a mix of lavender bouquets, plant startspumpkins, strawberries and herbs–and condiments, including hot pepper jellies, along with hand-made soaps and other body products. Schletewitz Family Farms of Sanger in Fresno County has a big selection of early stone fruit, along with some of the last the season’s citrus.

Tara Firm Farms, which produces grass-fed meats and produce in Petaluma, was offering a selection of cuts of beef (ground, ribeye, New York, skirt, arm, London broil) along with pork (sausage, picnic ham and spare ribs). They also offer a CSA subscription featuring both meat and produce; for details, click here Stonybrooke Sustainables, a small family farm located between Cotati and Sebastopol, offers pastured eggs, chicken, lamb, pork and milk, along with fruits and vegetables.

The Patch is one of many local farms throughout Sonoma County and California that is in the midst of garlic harvest

If you need to restock your pantry, there are plenty of options at this market, including olive oils from The Olive Press; delicious jams from Just Like Grandma’s Specialty Foods; balsamic vinegar and blended olive oils from Nan’s Gourmet Foods; pasta from Homemaid Ravioli and flatbreads, hummus and other dips and sauces from The Hummus Guy . Sweets and other baked goods include cookies, lemon bars, fruit galettes and crostada from Sonoma’s Olive & Vine; cookies, biscotti and such from Mama Baretta and brownies, cookies and ice cream from The Killer Baking Co. of Rohnert Park.

Crafts include some beautiful and beautifully whimsical woodwork, bags made of recycled materials, cute baby clothes, jewelry, miniature gardens and more.

If you want to enjoy both the farmers market and the party, here’s my advice: Put a cooler or a thermal bag in your car, along with a bucket of water, wide enough that it  won’t tip over. Shop first and then store your purchases, using the bucket for both bouquets and cut herbs. Put other foods in the cooler or thermal bag. I think it’s a good idea to have some sort of shield, as well, to cover flowers and herbs from the hot sun. After you’ve made sure everything will survive, head to the fete, where you’ll find nearly as many things to eat as you do at a county fair. Options include Willie Bird barbecued turkey, Korean tacos and sliders, pasta from the Pasta King, Greek foods, churros, barbecued oysters, hot dogs, paella, Mexican food and more, include from Worth Our Weight, which has its booth here. You can even enjoy a glass of wine, a beer or a Margarita as you listen to the evening’s music.

Paella is one of the most popular farmers market foods these days

Let me offer one more bit of advice. Because of its open air parking-lot location, this market can be quite hot. There is not much shade and heat radiates up from the tarmac. Dress accordingly, wear sunscreen and, if you are particularly sensitive, bring a sun hat or parasol.

Among Worth Our Weight's offerings at the Rohnert Park market is agua fesca

The Rohnert Park Certified Farmers Market, which is managed by Laure Tatman, takes place in the library parking lot and the adjacent City Center Plaza, at the intersection of Rohnert Park Expressway and State Farm Dr. It opened on the first Friday in June and continues through September.

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