Mendo Farmers Markets Opening Day This Saturday, May 1st 2010

Fairport, New York


Farmers’ Market Fans,

This Saturday is Opening Day for the new farmers’ market season.  The Saturday market will start opening at 8:30.  (The Ukiah Tuesday market will also open this week and runs from 3-6pm.)

At the Ukiah Saturday Market we will celebrate with free Jumperz for the kids (Jumperz will hopefully be a regular attraction at the market this season, but it is only free this Saturday).  The Fish Peddler reports that they will have some local fresh sablefish, snapper, pertale sole, halibut and some frozen salmon.  But, get there early as they have been selling out. They hope to start bringing fresh salmon from Oregon as early as the second week of May … but that is hopeful.  I just hear from the Potter Valley Garden Club that they will be joining us with their annual benefit sale day. Add that to Spiral Gardens, Lovin’ Blooms and Blue Sky Nursery, all starter plant specialists, and should have a huge selection of starts for you – in addition to all of the usual produce and other treats.  With the new season we will have a heap of new activity including UC Master Gardner instruction on the 3rd Saturday of the month.  2nd Saturdays will feature presentations with Q&A by Kermit Carter of Flowers by the Sea, starting with how to grow tomatoes in and around Ukiah.

Tomorrow’s Ukiah Daily Journal will include my final Market Message column. It is pasted below in case you want to preview it…

One Last Market Message

Thanks to everyone who came out last weekend for the final day of our off-season market.  It was lively.  If you missed it, try tapping your own word-of-mouth network to find someone who can tell you about it. Bet you will discover you missed a good time.

Tomorrow we open the traditional market season in Mendocino County.  That means that the Boonville Saturday, Fort Bragg Wednesday, Mendocino Friday and Ukiah Tuesday afternoon (3-6 pm) markets all open this week and that Willits Thursday market will move back out into the open at City Park.

As for the Ukiah Saturday Market, it means even more vendors, more activities, more free educational opportunities and, well, more.

On the vendor side, tomorrow Blue Sky Nursery will return adding its generous supply of plants and starter plants to our already wide selection, Mendocino Lavender will be back, this year with produce as well as high quality lavender, Mendocino Organics will start selling some of its biodynamic produce, and Buscalacchi Farms will start bringing cherries.

Next week, Creekside Farm plans to return and Black Dog Farm from Redwood Valley expects to join us for the first time.  As the season progresses and increasing sun makes our local greens more sprightly and our fruits swell, even more farms will appear.  Add those to the fifteen or so stalwart local agricultural producers who stayed with the market over the winter, with their produce, cheese, farm-fresh eggs, honey, meats, and seafood, and we will have one robust rural market.

Your options for fun around the edge of the market will also increase.  For starters we are hosting Jumperz with bounce house fun for the kids. Assuming you support it, they will be a regular feature this season.  To kick it off, the farmers’ market is sponsoring a free Jumperz day tomorrow.

As the new season starts we also welcome back Schat’s Bakery and the outdoor café section of the market.

Then there is the free, live music.  Tomorrow we kick-off the season with local favorites Laura and Darin Smith and their fiddle-driven old-time, Celtic and classical music.

Soon we will also add some new local crafts and new tasty treats such as Oma’s Peanut Brittle.  Kettle corn is rumored to be in the works as well.

On the education front we have lots in store including:

· practical, applied farming and plant care seminars by the masterful Kermit Carter of Flowers by the Sea;

· classes by UC Master Gardeners every third Saturday of the month on topics relevant to the phase of the season from composting in April and planting in May to harvesting in August and more;

· a series of intensive 4-hour courses for kids by the Gardens Project and the Ukiah Unified School District’s Network For A Healthy California, and;

· a series of Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op sponsored cooking demonstrations starting with a May 22 session by Jacqui Lee showing you how to make great meals with the new Owen Family (Hopland) Lamb Sausage products.

Whew!  It is enough to make a market manager tired just thinking about it.  And, all it needs to make it even better is .you.  Remember, it takes a community to make a community.  Step right up if you would like to help make it an even better market by signing up for the market newsletter or Facebook page so that you can help spread the word about what is happening, helping out with clean-up or by surveying market customers, staffing a food tasting event, holding an educational seminar to share something you have mastered or contributing something else.

Meanwhile, should you wake-up some Saturday morning and find yourself opposed to having fun while you grocery shop and fuzzy as to why you want to get to the farmers’ market, just repeat this mantra:  supporting my local farmers’ market is a grand slam, Hail Mary, blue ribbon, gold medal, triple crown, best of show, win-win-win-win-win thing to do.  It benefits my health, the local economy, the environment, the community at large and my neighboring family farmer.  I get fresh, healthy food, keep my dollars near home, preserve beautiful, open county, quiet living and big views and create a more robust local economy with more opportunity.

You may want to keep repeating that until it is memorized, just in case.

In closing I wish to thank the Farmers’ Market’s many great sponsors from last season.  They are Ukiah Main Street Program, Savings Bank of Mendocino, Ukiah Natural Food Co-op, John Johns Sign Company, the Ukiah Valley Medical Center and Mendocino Animal Hospital.  Each of these organizations and businesses are critical to our community and supporting them brings many of the same benefits as supporting your local Farmers’ Market.

I have the privilege of welcoming these same sponsors back for the new season and of welcoming two major new sponsors (so far): The Mendocino Wine Company / Parducci Wine Cellars and Mendocino Greenhouse.

The Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market is where you should be every Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. to Noon.  If you miss it, try the Ukiah Tuesday Market, its from 3-6pm.  Both are at the corner of School and Clay Streets. The Willits Farmers’ market is now at City Park on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m