On Sunday, the West End Farmers Market's first season comes to an end. The market opened June 23 and originally was expected to continue through mid-fall. With the market's early success, manager Allen Thomas extended the 2013 season and hopes to start up again in 2014 earlier than planned. Right now, hopes are for a March 16 opening.
The market seemed to hit its stride immediately, especially with customers from the West End neighborhood. On my visits, I rarely saw shoppers whom I typically see at other markets — it's been an entirely new group, suggesting that there was a need that this market filled.
The market's location adjacent to the DeTurk Park and Round Barn, which has one of the best dog parks around, is part of the market's appeal, as it is a lovely place to linger before and after shopping. If you live nearby, it's an easy walk or bike ride.
The market typically has about 28 vendors, with a core group of farmers and ranchers augmented by vendors of prepared foods and crafts. Musicians entertain from near the front of the barn, little kids run and twirl and dance, their parents sip coffee, dogs roll in the grass.
The final market of the year will include a diverse selection of winter produce from Leisen's Bridgeway Farms — they had fabulous melons earlier in the year and have great winter squash now — Foggy River Farm, Sprawling River Farm, Red H Farm, Handlebar Farm, Sinclair Farm and Ortiz Farms, all local.
Rojas Family Farms attends with seasonal fruit — they have great pomegranates and persimmons — and Twin Hills may be there with their wonderful citrus.
Wyland Orchards of Petaluma has had a successful season as the market's primary egg and meat vendor. They also have extra virgin olive oil from their farm. Gypsy Girl Sausage has done well here, too, and will be at the final market.
Dacheva Sons Cheese Co. recently joined the market with their delicious handcrafted cheeses.