Just a few days before spring, the first of Sonoma County's seasonal farmers markets opens.
This Sunday, West End Farmers Market kicks off its second season. The market, located adjacent to the DeTurk Round Barn in the historic West End district of Santa Rosa, opens at 10 a.m. and concludes at 2 p.m.
The market enjoyed an enormously successful first year and extended its run by several weeks. Now, organizers have done it again, fulfilling their wish of opening in mid-March instead of early June.
There will be both familiar vendors and vendors new to the market on opening day, with more to join in as their harvests unfold. By any measure, it has been a tricky growing season.
When it comes to produce, you'll find Ortiz Farm, Handlebar Farm, Farm Sinclair, Rojas Farm, Leisen's Bridgeway Farms, and Sprawling River Farm offering a diverse selection of sturdy greens; potatoes, carrots and other root crops; fresh herbs, lettuces, the last of winter squashes and some of spring's first crops, possibly even asparagus, which is just beginning to appear at local markets.
Wyland Farm returns this year with local eggs and meat.
Kiss the Flower Honey Co. has delicious local honey, much of it from hives established at some of the farms that sell their produce here.
There are several bakeries at the market, including Undercover Bakery (formerly Criminal Bakery) and Liberty 5, which has gluten-free baked goods). Eli Colvin's Revolution Bread can't attend opening day but will join the following week. Colvin works at the highly praised Model Bakery in St. Helena; his breads are also available at Greenstring Farm Store in Petaluma.
Jason Taylor of Physis Foods will set up shop here, too, with his broths, stocks and soups made on the spot using ingredients from market vendors.
The market opens with several new entrepreneurs of prepared foods, including smoked barbecue, ribs, breakfast tacos and more. Adafina Culinary joins next week with Jewish deli-style foods, including pastrami-on-rye sandwiches, pickles and more.
Penang Kitchen, Arlene Francis Center and Gypsy Girl Sausage return for the second season, and a handful of local craftspeople round things out.
The West End Farmers Market is as much a community gathering place as it is a destination for weekly food shopping. With one of the county's best dog parks and a beautiful grassy area bordering the market, families linger, enjoying foods from the market or a picnic from home. Little boys and girls run, turn somersaults and squeal with delight, grown-ups enjoy the music and, when the sun is soft and the air fragrant with spring aromas, it might just be the happiest place in Santa Rosa.
This year, music is organized by Josh Windmiller, founder of North Bay Hootenanny. The Timothy O'Neil Band will kick things off, with Caitlin Jemma scheduled for the following week.
The West End Farmers Market, founded in 2013 by the West End Neighborhood Association and managed by Allen Thomas, is located on Donahue Street, adjacent to DeTurk Park and Round Barn, between West Eighth and Boyce streets. It takes place on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, go to wefm.co.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.