If you’re visiting the charming Sonoma County city of Petaluma, you’ll discover many delightful ways to explore (and devour!) fresh-off-the-farm produce and products.
Petaluma hosts three lively farmers markets. They’re all popular with locals and visitors alike, thanks to mouth-watering veggies and fruit, convivial interactions with the folks who grow them, and the easy-going atmosphere. Live music is often on the scene, as well as ready-to-eat food.
The Petaluma East-Side Farmers' Market runs year-round and is located in Lucchesi Park. About 40 vendors are on hand, featuring local produce, artisan foods, lunch fare, flowers, baked goods, hand-made soaps, and lots more. Always live music and a lively atmosphere. Open Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 320 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma.
The Petaluma Walnut Park Farmers Market dates back to 1987. You’ll find flowers, grass-fed meat and poultry, fish and shellfish, baked goods, and, of course, a great variety of fresh fruits and veggies. Musicians play from a central gazebo and everybody enjoys a great time. Open Saturdays (mid-May to Mid-November), from 2-5:30 p.m. Walnut Park, on the corner of D Street and Petaluma Boulevard, Petaluma.
The Petaluma Theatre District Farmers Market lives a short-but-sweet existence at the height of summer, running from early June to late August. You’ll gather summer stone fruit, flowers, baked goods, artisan products, and more. Put together an evening repast, go sit beside the water, and enjoy the growing dusk. Or, after strolling through the farmers market, head off to dinner at one of the excellent downtown restaurants nearby. Open Wednesday (mid-June 3 to mid-August), from 4:30-8 p.m. Downtown on 2nd Street between B and D Streets, Petaluma.
Come and see what life is like on a real farm in Petaluma:
Tara Firma Farms, which produces grass-fed beef and pastured poultry and pork, offers free visitor tours on Saturdays and Sundays. You’ll witness a “fully operational example of what sustainable farming looks like.” 2796 I St., Petaluma, 707-765-1202
Green String Farm has long been an influential player in sustainable farming, focusing on assisting natural processes that help grow healthy fruits and vegetables. The Green String Institute, founded in 2000, offers a certification program that promotes sustainable practices. Green String offers free farm tours the first Saturday of each month, weather permitting. 3571 Old Adobe Road, Petaluma, 707-778-7500
Garden Valley Ranch started as a cattle ranch in the 1880s, but now — home to more than 10,000 rose bushes — it’s one of the nation’s few growers to offer chemical-free cut garden roses. Tour the grounds, and you’ll marvel over floral sights such as the 220-foot-long by 14-foot-wide display border, edged in local stone and containing roses, perennials, shrubs, and annuals arranged in color sequence as in the Gertrude Jekyll style of old. A self-guided tour is $5/person, or go with a docent ($10; advance reservations required). In winter, the ranch and nursery might be open by appointment only. 498 Pepper Road, Petaluma, 707-795-0919