At 9 a.m. Saturday morning, the legendary cowbell will ring in the first Healdsburg Farmers Market of 2013. The opening of this market heralds the beginning of the abundant season, when we're no longer gasping with delight at those first precious radishes and instead are racing to keep up with everything from fresh favas and green garlic to strawberries and zucchini.
The market opens with four olive oil vendors, welcome after last year when there were none, thanks to a nearly non-existent 2011 olive harvest. You'll find olive oils from Deergnaw, Preston, Alexander Valley Farm and Combs Ranch, which is located in Butte County.
Eggs are plentiful, too. Ridgeview Farm, Wyeth Acres, Reyes Family Farm, Healdsburg Farm Fresh Eggs and Produce, Middleton Farm, Foggy River Farm, Geyserville Gardens, Preston Farm and Alexander Valley Farm all have pastured flocks of happy hens producing colorful and delicious eggs.
As we've come to expect from our farmers markets, there are plenty of meat, seafood and cheese vendors here. On opening day, you'll find John Ford Ranch, which specializes in beef; Owen Family Farm, which has goat, lamb, pork, beef and rabbit; Franco Dunn's One World Sausages; Paul Thornton and his beloved smoked salmon; and Dave Legro's Bumblebee Seafood, which may have some of the season's first local wild Pacific King salmon.
Weirauch Farm and Creamery, Valley Ford Cheese Company and Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese are among the cheese vendors. You'll find Pugs Leap, too, though the company sold and is now located in Petaluma, not Dry Creek Valley. A new vendor, Pennyroyal Farm of Boonville, has a selection of goat cheeses, as well.
When it comes to produce, expect tender young favas, delicious asparagus, green garlic, leeks, sugar snap peas, sprouting broccoli, spring onions, green onions, celery root, beets, kales, cabbage, lots of lettuces, fresh herbs, carrots and more. Look carefully and you'll find Eureka lemons and, if you're lucky, Tahiti limes, borage flowers, wild arugula and the year's very first strawberries.
Alexander Valley Farm will have artichokes and asparagus. Gourmet Growers of Petaluma have white, crimini and portobello mushrooms.
This market always has gorgeous cut flowers, some at stalls with a big array of produce and others at stalls that specialize primarily in flowers. There's a huge number of plant starts, too, including heirloom tomatoes and peppers from Soda Rock Farms.
There is plenty to eat on the spot, from Savvy Productions, Jimtown Store and Chalk Hill Cookery. Manager Mary Kelley says to expect a surprise chef mid-month. Costeaux Bakery attends the market with their delicious breads and Taverna Sofia may attend with dolmas and such, ready to take home.
The Healdsburg Farmers Market has 55 stalls and about 45 vendors, as some vendors require a double space to display their harvest. Five of the stalls are set aside for local crafts.