“We’re the town that got it right,” Lou Preston of Preston Farm and Vineyard said as he was packing up his stall at the Healdsburg Farmers Market on a warm Saturday afternoon in mid-August.
Preston was speaking passionately about the Tuesday morning farmers market, which takes place on the Healdsburg Plaza. In recent years, a midweek market has been held on Wednesday afternoons on North Street, but it never really hit its stride; at times, there was a dearth of produce to be had and very few shoppers. The Tuesday market, on the other hand, has been just what a farmers market should be, with plenty of fresh produce and customers eager to buy it.
Not long after our conversation, Preston learned the market was scheduled to conclude for the year at the end of the month. He did not take the news passively, but instead contacted the city. Because of his efforts, the market is now continuing through the month of September and, if profitable, into October.
Profitability is entirely dependent on attendance; enough people need to show up so that the market is financially viable for both farmers and the market itself.
Currently, the market has 19 vendors, down from a peak of 24. Those that stopped attending did so primarily because they already had things scheduled this month, not because the market was unsuccessful for them. Manager Janet Ciel is hoping to get some additional vendors from the Saturday market to join in on Tuesdays.
There is an abundance of fresh produce at this market, from Preston, Middleton Farms, Alexander Valley Farm, Front Porch Farm, Reyes Farm, Bernier Farm and Neufeld Farms, which is best known for its dried fruit and nuts but also has a selection of fresh products.
These vendors provide everything you need to put together fabulous seasonal meals, from garlic, shallots and herbs to all manner of tomatoes, chiles and sweet peppers, greens, strawberries, bread made with locally grown grain, eggs, lamb, honey and more.
Anna’s Seafood participates, as does Criminal Bakery; Extraordinary Blends, a Guerneville-based vinegar company; Volo Chocolate; and Sporgy’s, which produces mushroom jerky.
Fruit Moto offers smoothies and other fruit drinks, along with sandwiches and other foods prepared on the spot from scratch. Several craft vendors and live music in the gazebo round out the market.
If you’re out of salt and pepper, you may need to visit a supermarket but otherwise, it is easy to do all of your shopping here, under the sky and beneath the trees, with live music to accompany you and a delicious breakfast or lunch, should you be hungry.
It is a beautiful distillation of Sonoma County itself, with nature’s fall abundance highlighted for your pleasure.
The market takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the end of September.
For more information, including whether or not the market will continue through October, visit healdsburgfarmersmarket.org.
Today’s recipe, adapted from one in my “The New Cook’s Tour of Sonoma” (Sasquatch Press, 2000), is inspired by the corn and poblanos currently in season.