The west side neighborhood that brought its residents summer bike parades, Bocce Ball Fridays, dog park Poodle Parties and outdoor movie nights is extending its reach to the rest of Santa Rosa with a new Sunday farmers market that organizers say is as much about building community as it is about selling fresh foods.
The West End Farmers Market, which debuts this weekend in front of the DeTurk Round Barn on Donahue Street, makes for three regular farmers markets in the greater Santa Rosa area — four if you count the Wednesday Night Market downtown.
But members of the West End Neighborhood Association, which has provided a voice and a structure to the close-knit neighborhood for three decades, say their event will have a slightly more urban, hipster flair and a friendly flavor that matches the welcoming spirit of their neighborhood.
They're also excited it will be readily accessible to those in the central Santa Rosa area by bike and on foot, bringing outsiders into the old-style community west of downtown where neighbors enjoy getting out together and socializing.
"I personally think Santa Rosa and Sonoma County has room for lots of small farmers markets," providing direct contact between local food producers and residents, said longtime community organizer Allen Thomas, the market manager. "It supports so many things that I think a lot of Sonoma county residents really cherish."
The nonprofit neighborhood association will run the market, which has been certified by the state and set up under city permits to run on a trial basis for 19 Sundays through October, Thomas said.
It is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday between Ninth and Boyce streets. It will offer Sonoma County-grown fruits and vegetables, baked goods, fresh eggs, prepared foods, fresh juices and occasional meats and artisanal products from local vendors, many with connections to the neighborhood that give them a special appreciation for the area.
The event isn't just about food.
"There's kind of a social aspect to it as well, and that's something the West End neighborhood has always been really good at, which is putting together neighborhood social activities," said Burbank Gardens-area baker Jen Maly, who will be selling gluten-free breads and other baked products at the market.
While many markets are held in large parking lots outside closed public buildings and attract lots of folks coming in by car, West End organizers say their affair is different because it's right there among the homes, bike-riding kids and strollers that make up their neighborhood. It's also an easy walk from the St. Rose and Ridgway neighborhoods, organizer Spring Maxfield said.
"I think that is a beautiful thing that the West End is trying to do," said Jason Sakach, one of two people behind Guerilla Food. The sustainable food company uses ingredients direct from farms and farmers markets for dishes served at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market at the Wells Fargo Center and, come Sunday, at the West End market. "They are trying to highlight the neighborhood and the community in it, and have the market there — which is a very different thing than, say, the Wells Fargo Center, where people have to commute over. People are really excited."
"We're going to have a way cool, neighborhoody vibe," said veterinarian and longtime West End resident Deborah Crippen, who has helped plan and finance preparations for the new market. "It is in the neighborhood, and it is part of our neighborhood, and I think it's going to really come across with that same feeling."