There’s a reason Sonoma County is famed for its agricultural bounty, as you’ll see when you explore the region’s many farmers’ markets and discover the infinite variety of local produce, artisan specialties and heirloom treasures.
In spring, you’ll find baby artichokes, red-and-white striped beets, young garlic, baby favas, tender lettuces, colorful cauliflowers, broccoli rabe, a rainbow array of herbs, and bouquets of edible flowers.
Then the apples appear on the rees, starting with Sebastopol’s famed Gravenstein variety with its tart, juicy flavor. Before you know it, berries are plentiful, and then the summer stone fruits arrive, in a bounty of apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries and plums. Soon, gardens brim with near-endless zukes and cukes, and vines grow heavy with tomatoes that might be red or yellow or green or even black.
Just as this cornucopia fades away, another spills over in squash and melons and corn and pumpkins, nuts and grapes and beans. Even in the quietest days of winter, you can relish an abundance of local broccoli and bok choy and lettuces, chard and endive and mushrooms.
Although the farmers’ markets center around locally grown produce, they offer far more for a discerning palate and community minded clientele. People come to buy a juicy peach or a mouthwatering tomato, but also a fresh-baked red velvet cupcake from Crumb Hither Gourmet Cupcakes and Specialty Baking of Santa Rosa, or handcrafted pancetta from Franco’s One World Sausage Co. of Healdsburg.
They seek out seedlings and flowers from Daffodils, Dalhias and Lilies Oh My of Santa Rosa, and custom chicken houses from California Coops of Fulton. They swoon over beautiful hand carved wood bowls from By the Elvin Moon of Petaluma, and stock up on fresh roasted coffee and beans from Run Around Brew of Sebastopol.
Locals and visitors also love Sonoma County farmers’ markets as delightful places to meet their friends and hang out, listen to live music from homegrown talent like the Chicory Almond band, or just watch the world go by. These are wonderful places, too, to grab a meal, from food trucks like Mateo’s with superb Yucatan-French-Sonoma sucking pig tamales, or Rosso Pizzeria, with the pizzas baked in a mobile wood-burning oven.
For each unique experience, one thing unites most of the destinations – they are Certified Farmers’ Markets, meaning vendors are required to produce their own products (no trucked in merchandise here!).
Some markets operate from spring and into fall, while some run year-round. You know you want to go, so here’s how to do it.
Here’s a list of the farmers markets in Sonoma County, with all dates, times and addresses (updated for 2016):
Bodega Bay Community Farmers Market
Sundays (May-October): 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 2255 Highway 1 (behind the Community Center)
Forestville Farmers Market
Tuesdays (June 7-October 25): 4-7:30 p.m., 5700 Highway 116 North (at Russian River Vineyards)
- Saturday (May 7-November 26): 9 a.m.-noon, North and Vine Streets, one block west of the Plaza.
- Wednesday (June 1-October 26): 3:30-6 p.m., in the Purity/Cerri Lot on North Street between Grove and Foss streets
- Sunday (June-September): noon-4 p.m., Kenwood Plaza Park, 200 Warm Springs Road
Occidental Farmers Market
Fridays (June-October): 4 p.m.-dusk, downtown Occidental.
- Petaluma East Side Farmers Market: Tuesdays (year-round), 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 501 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma (in the parking lot next to City Sports near Friedman’s).
- Petaluma Walnut Park Farmers Market: Saturdays (May 14-November 19), 2-5:30 p.m., in Walnut Park, on the Corner of D Street and Petaluma Blvd.
- Petaluma Theatre District Farmers Market: Wednesdays (June 1-August 31), 4:30-8 p.m., on 2nd Street between B and D Streets.
- Fridays (fall, winter and spring): 1-5 p.m., Rohnert Park Plaza, 500 City Center Drive (library parking lot)
- Fridays (June 3-Aug. 26): 2-8 p.m., in the same location.
- Wednesdays (year-round): 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, off Highway 101
- Saturdays (year-round): 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., in the same location as the Wednesday market
- Sundays (year-round): 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., in Sebastopol Plaza on Weeks Way in downtown Sebastopol.
- Tuesdays (May 3-October 25): Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market, 5:30 p.m.-dusk, behind City Hall on the Plaza.
- Fridays (Year-Round): Sonoma Valley Certified Farmer’s Market, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., in the Arnold Field parking lot at 241 West First Street.
- Sundays (April 3-December 18): 10 a.m.-1 p.m., on Windsor Town Green, 701 McClelland Dr.
- Thursdays (mid-June through August): 5-8 p.m., same location as Sunday