The Farmers Market … have you been yet this season?

Janet Ciel

Just when I’ve assumed anyone local who’s going to come has already been doing so, a young couple this past week said this is their first visit, and they’re sad they hadn’t come earlier.

“This is a really good market,” the woman said to my assistant and me. “You have so many farms, and so much else.”

We nod and smile. We know. They buy a tote bag and fill it to capacity with the goods overflowing in their arms. They smile and wave a goodbye as they head off. “We’ll see you next week!”

Another woman comments on the flowers to us. “There are more flowers here than I’ve seen at any farmers market, and I shop them all.” We nod and smile. We know this, too. Our aisles are filled with stunning bouquets, starter plants, even unique iris bulbs developed in Healdsburg, but sold all over the world.

“Did you try this?” A longtime customer holds up a fork full of a potato pancake topped with smoked salmon, crunchy greens and a drizzle of secret sauce, by Tisza Bistro. “It’s incredible!” Once again, we agree. We had the fresh peach and pecan pancakes from them this morning.

Another customer comes up toward the end of the market. “Who was the band that played last week? I want to hire them for an event.” I look up the information and write it down for her, smiling as I remember singing along with them last Saturday.

Out-of-towners tell us, too. “I live in Houston, and we have big markets, but this is the perfect size, and you have a great mix of vendors. I like the craft. I bought some earrings and a ceramic piece as a gift.” Her Texas drawl is subtle, but identifiable.

Our Market Match program has proven very popular with EBT recipients, giving them up to $20 in free fruits and veggies. And our new Market Bucks allow customers to use credit cards at the Information Booth to purchase dollars for market spending, as many of our farms only take cash.

As the market manager I know the ins and outs of this place, and without seeming prejudicial, this is an exceptional market. I know it, but it’s the comments from the customers that really drive this home. Their enthusiasm is what feeds us.

If you haven’t yet come down, don’t take it from me. Take it from the dozens of things people rave about week after week. You’re missing out on a very special aspect of our fair town. Tuesdays on the Plaza, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the end of September. Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to noon in the West Plaza Parking Lot (behind Bear Republic), through the end of November. Hope to see you at the markets.

Janet Ciel is the manager of the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market. She can be reached at manager@healdsburgfarmersmarket.org.

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