It's cowbell time! As Saturday's opening day of the Healdsburg Farmers Market approaches, the weather promises to be just about perfect, with 79 degrees predicted for Saturday. When the opening cowbell sounds at 9 a.m., expect glorious flowers, crisp radishes, delicate leafy greens, sweet strawberries and so much more, as we shake off the last vestiges of winter and spring kicks into high gear.
This is the 36th year for the market.
Hank Wetzel will attend opening day with eggs from his happy hens, estate olive oil, asparagus, artichokes, radishes, Little Gem lettuces and herbs.
Nancy Skall will have her legendary strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb, along with nettles, parsley, sunchokes, beautiful peonies and more.
Bernier Farm has green garlic, fresh favas, asparagus, arugula, spring salad mix, braising mix, carrots and eggs.
Preston of Dry Creek attends this market, too, with nettles, kale, lettuces, favas, rhubarb, strawberries, pickled cabbage, cider vinegar and red wine vinegar.
Foggy River Farm is currently harvesting a wide variety of beautiful greens.
You'll find some of the season's first cherries, too, from Marc Busalacchi's family farm on the eastern side of the San Joaquin Valley; he also brings avocados from a friend who grows them in San Luis Obispo.
Deergnaw Olive Oil is returning this season and Gourmet Growers of Petaluma has several types of mushrooms, including oyster and shiitake.
Valley Ford Cheese and Pugs Leap are the market's cheese vendors, John Ford Ranch has both corn-fed and grass-fed beef and Oz Ranch is back with their rabbit, raised in Dry Creek Valley.
Owen Family Farm attends this market with goat, lamb, pork, beef and some excellent raw pet food. Barrett Farm will attend this year with poultry, and you'll find Williams Ranch's delicious lamb here, too.
Several vendors start this market with vegetable and flower starts before their own harvest fully kicks in. You'll find them at Carrot Top Farm, Soda Rock Farm, Geyserville Gardens, Ridgeview Farm, Early Bird Farm, Red Tail Nursery, Nature's Sprit Gardens and the Reyes Family Farm.
There are delicious prepared foods, too, both to take home and to enjoy on the spot. If you've been missing Carrie Brown's beautiful sunshine smile, you'll find her here at Jimtown Store's booth, with ham and potato gratin, strawberry walnut bread, spiced hibiscus tea, chocolate mint lemonade, muffins and coffee.
The Bone Broth Co. will be attending, too, with some of the finest paella you'll taste anywhere and rich, delicious stock to take home.
The Farmer's Wife has sandwiches, Nana Mae has apple sauce, Mama Tina's Raviolis has several varieties (including butternut squash, mushroom, meatball and artichoke) and Taverna Sofia will have a selection of Greek dishes, including pastries.
O'Malley's Mobile Knife Sharpening Services will attend the opening market and continue to join in on the first Saturday of each month.
As of press time, it was impossible to know if there will be fresh local Pacific king salmon or not, but Dave Legro of the fishing vessel Bumble Bee says there's a 50-50 chance. He'll be heading out on opening day of salmon season, Thursday, so let's all wish him great luck.
Given the spotlight now shining on Healdsburg, it is wise to have a strategy for this market. You might arrive extra early to find a decent parking spot and then enjoy breakfast nearby, or simply walk to the market. You might also want to bring a cooler with ice and a bucket with water so you can stash your purchases and then enjoy a walk around town or a beverage at The Shed, across the street from the market. What you should not do is zip in a few minutes before closing time expecting to find a place to park right next to the market.