It is a rainy, frigid Thursday morning. The cherry blossoms dance freeform in the wind, spiraling down from their perch in the trees. While these blossoms indicate spring, the morning is reminiscent of winter. The morning is not the only thing that's foggy, but even a late start for a self-proclaimed night owl proves fruitful at the farmers market held at the Marin Civic Center on this late Thursday morning.
Smart chatter about broccoli rabe and sugar snap peas is heard somewhere above the distant blues harmonica playing. Ladies in large rubber boots carry canvas totes overflowing with wispy fennel leaves and baskets of flowers. Even on a day such as this, the small passageways are alive. Vendors in knitted caps and hoodies rub their hands together for warmth, smiling and waiting for questions and purchases, offering samples customary with market shopping.
The shoppers include the usual Thursday-morning suspects—chefs, restaurant owners, local farmers and anyone current in the Marin food circle who isn't tied to a nine-to-five.
Between bites of grapefruit and strawberries, toothpicks filled with cheese, and crackers covered in spreads from roasted eggplant to olive tapenade, the greatest part of this market is in the interaction. Edmond from Petaluma's Della Fattoria bakery says he's relatively new to the Thursday-morning beat, having been coming for only seven months. He is lively in speech and openly generous, offering samples of his breads. He shares the history of his bakery, saying that he is beginning to focus more on markets like these and less on deliveries, because markets offer community, one that comes without using so much gas.
The ladies from Healdsburg's DaVero occupy the stand next door. While offering their locally grown olive oils on soft morsels of bread, they tell near-lore of the fishmongering ladies—beautiful, busty Latinas with acrylic nails and plastic aprons who fillet five-foot-long fish before your eyes and only come on Sundays.
The young men at Prather Ranch Meat bend into large refrigerators and pull out wrapped pieces of meat—shanks, hocks and steaks—beneath a sign saying "Organic, Humane, Sustainable."
Peter, owner of Barlovento Chocolates, delicately slices off thin little bits of Meyer lemon zest, cardamom and honey, and Mayan hot chocolate truffles. Each piece melts like the faint taste of a meal that never was and always is.
The man in a yellow bee suit at the Marshall's Farm Honey stand dips his miniature spoons into jars of amber flavored in lavender, wildflower and blackberry. Dried fruits sit comfortably beside almonds flavored with exotic spices like tequila lemon and lemon chili. Bags of walnuts, shelled or whole, share shelves with bushels of broccoli, kale and asparagus.
The color of the fruits, vegetables and flowers that overflow out of these stands is a stark contrast against such a gray morning. Whole roasted chickens turn seductively in the windows of the Roli Roti truck. Authentic Belgian waffles come piling onto paper plates, their mountains of sugar and snow-white whipped cream are pure save for the healthy chocolate streams that part them.
Southern-scented smoke billows out of Frank's BBQ shack. Wood-oven roasted pizzas fly out of the portable oven into symmetrical square boxes. People licking their fingers and tapping their feet sit at tables assembled around one man playing his harmonica into a microphone. Is it any wonder why people would choose to spend their Thursday mornings here? Marin County Farmers Market, Marin Civic Center, Thursdays and Sundays, 8am&–1pm, year-round.
To Market, to Market
North Bay farm markets, compiled by Hannah Smith
Cotati Opens June 4 and runs Thursdays through Oct. 1 from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. La Plaza Park, downtown Cotati. 707.795.5508.
Guerneville The Friday market runs from 4pm to 8pm and opens June 5, running through October. Parking lot of Sonoma Nesting, 16151 Main St. 707.869.9000.
Healdsburg The Saturday-morning market opens unofficially on April 25 in celebration of Arbor Day for those farmers with "early" produce. The regular Saturday-morning market goes into full swing on May 2, from 9am to noon, and runs through Nov. 28. North and Vine streets. The Tuesday-evening market begins June 2 from 4pm to 6:30pm and runs through Oct. 24. Matheson Street on the Plaza. 707.431.1956.
Oakmont This is a year-round market, every Saturday from 9am to noon in the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot, corner of Oakmont Drive and White Oak. 707.538.7023.
Occidental Opens June 5 and runs Fridays from 4pm to dusk through the season. Downtown Occidental, in front of Howard Station Cafe, 3611 Bohemian Hwy. 707.793.2159.
Petaluma The Saturday market opens May 23 and runs 2pm to 5pm through Oct. 31 at Walnut Park, Petaluma Boulevard at D Street. Wednesday-night market begins June 10 and runs from 4:30pm to 8pm through Aug. 26 at the intersection of Second Street and B and D streets. 707.762.0344.
Santa Rosa Year-round markets, Wednesday and Saturday, rain or shine, 8:30am to noon at the Veterans Memorial Building, east parking lot, 1351 Maple Ave. 707.522.8629. The downtown Wednesday Night Market opens May 13 and runs from 5pm to 8:30pm through Aug. 12. Downtown Santa Rosa, Fourth Street from B to D streets. 707.524.2123.
Sebastopol Already underway for the season, this market runs every Sunday from 10am to 1:30pm through the last Sunday in November. Downtown Plaza at McKinley Street. 707.522.9305.
Sonoma The Friday market is a rain-or-shine, year-round event every week from 9am to 12:30pm at the Depot Park at First Street West. The Tuesday evening market began at the start of April and goes through the last Tuesday of October from 5:30pm to dusk, at the Sonoma Plaza on the Square. 707.538.7023.
Windsor The Sunday-morning market begins in earnest on May 10 and runs from 10am to 1pm through Nov. 22. Beginning June 11, Thursday-evening markets with special concert and food nights run from 5pm to 8pm through the summer. Town Green in Old Downtown Windsor. 707.838.7285.
Corte Madera This year-round market is held every Wednesday from noon to 5pm in the Town Center, Tamalpais and Highway 101, center courtyard. 415.382.7846.
Fairfax With its fierce devotion to sustainability, this market opens on May 7 and runs Wednesday from 4pm to 8pm at Bolinas Park, 124 Bolinas Road. 415.472.6100. www.marinfarmersmarket.org.
Larkspur Running Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. Ends last week in October. Ferry Building Parking lot. Larkspur Landing Circle. 415.382.7846.
Mill Valley Every Friday beginning June 5 and ending last week in October, running from 9am to 1pm. Blithedale at Lomita. 415.382.7846.
Novato Look for this market to commence on Tuesdays beginning May 5, running 4pm to 8pm through September. Grant Avenue, old downtown. 415.472.6100. www.marinfarmersmarket.org
Pt. Reyes Station The West Marin farm market is a Saturday affair, running from 9am to 1pm. Runs June 27&–Nov. 7. Toby's Feed Barn, 15479 State Route 1, Pt. Reyes Station. 415.669.9932.
Ross Valley A new market, this one serves residents of Ross, Kentfield and San Anselmo and is slated for Thursdays from 3pm to 7pm, beginning May 29 and running to the last week of October. Ross Commons at the Post Office. 415.382.7846
San Rafael Year-round markets at the Marin County Civic Center are a community bastion. Look for them on Thursdays and Sundays, from 8am to 1pm. Sundays in the Marin County Civic Center parking lot and Thursday in the Veterans Memorial parking lot. 415.472.6100. www.marinfarmersarket.org. Also, the family affair that is the Thursday Night Market has already begun and runs from 6pm to 9pm though Sept. 24. Fourth Street, between B Street and Cijos. 415.492.8007.
Sausalito This market opens May 8 and runs every Friday from 4pm to 8pm through Oct. 31. New location in the Bank of America Parking lot on Bridgeway. 415.382.7846.
Tam Valley This market starts May 19 and is every Tuesday 3pm to 7pm. Tennessee Valley Road off of Highway 1 at Marin Street. 415.382.7846.
Calistoga Spring is officially sprung in Calistoga on Saturday, May 2, with a market that runs Saturdays from 8:30am to noon through Oct. 31. Now located in Sharpsteen Plaza, across from City Hall, 1235 Washington St. 707.942.8892.
Napa Saturday- and Tuesday-morning markets in Napa begin on May 2 from 7:30am to noon and run through October. This year's market is focused on sustainable, organic and artisanal goods and has a new location at the Napa Valley Wine Train, 1275 McKinstry Street in the Oxbow District. 707.252.7142. Meanwhile, the fill-the-streets fun of the Chef's Market kicks off on a new day, overtaking downtown streets on Thursdays, and running May 21 through July 30 from 5pm to 9pm. Downtown Napa, between First and the Oxbow Public Market. 707.257.0322.
St. Helena Look for this market every Friday, May 1 to Oct. 30, from 7:30am to noon. Crane Park, Crane Avenue at Grayson Avenue. 707.486.2662.
Unconfirmed farmers markets about which we could not goose a call back or get more info include those in Monte Rio and Forestville. Please send details on those markets to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get them listed.
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