With so many of us working remotely and our social lives still somewhat disrupted by the pandemic, there’s a particular comfort in seeing the same faces every week.
In heading to your local farmers’ market and purchasing the plumpest blackberries and eggplants from vendors you’ve come to recognize. Or in bumping into friends and neighbors who are also perusing the newest stalls.
That’s what you tell me, anyway. You’ve been writing to me in recent weeks about which of the 700-some farmers’ markets in California are your favorites and why. As you might’ve guessed, it’s about way more than the produce.
Here are some of your farmers’ market memories and recommendations, lightly edited:
“Chico has the most fabulous farmers’ markets, and Mr. Fang grows the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever tasted! Soon he’ll be offering summer tomatoes, too. We buy the funny-looking, bursting-at-the-seams ones by the pound, and he always presses a few extras into our hands. The market has been a beautiful way to help us find community here.” — Emily Smith, Chico
“I have been going to my Monday afternoon farmers’ market in Los Osos every single week since my husband and I moved to the Central Coast. For the past 15 years, I have enjoyed seeing the farmers show up every week with their beautiful fruits and vegetables.” — Janet Swanson, Los Osos
“I am biased about the Visalia Farmers’ Market because I live here, but I honestly feel that it is one of the best farmers’ markets in California. Our farmers grow everything from Buddha’s Hand citron to a wide variety of lettuces, berries, artichokes, cauliflower, mushrooms, eggs, grass-fed beef and on and on.
In a smaller city like Visalia, one gradually gets to know local farming families quite well. We have photos and fond memories of our ‘city kid’ with ‘farm kids’ working together at the farm, visiting the Tulare County Ag Museum, and going to food festivals. Although our son is still a city kid, the local farming community is a part of his cultural heritage and also one of the reasons he is a foodie.” — Mark Wall, Visalia
“One of my favorite farmers’ markets is the Point Reyes Farmers Market, a smaller but very personal market, with the freshest local produce, meat, baked goods, flowers and crafts available. My favorite vendor is Kinoko (formerly Haraneco) operated by local chef Yuko Kaneko, who makes healthy and delicious Japanese onigiri (rice balls) and bento. After going to the market, you can hike one of the many beautiful Point Reyes trails and finish off the day at Hog Island Oyster Company. The best.” — David Hayashida, Greenbrae
“I heartily recommend our local farmers’ market in Napa. Now open year-round, it is an amazing source of wonderful farm-fresh produce, much of it from certified organic farms, along with great food to eat there or take home from some of our area’s best chefs. And did I mention it’s in Napa? Come and enjoy.” — James Bronk, Napa
“When the pandemic hit, the Clement Street farmers’ market in the Richmond District in San Francisco never stopped. Sure, attendance was sparse in those first few weeks, and we were all masked and wary, but there was something amazing about the fact that the farmers’ market soldiered on. It was then that I think we all realized how much the market brought our community together. I still go to the Clement Street farmers’ market every Sunday.” — Jenny Waclawski, San Francisco
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Tina Mills, who recommends a visit to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park:
“Recently, we planned a short overnight trip out to the Anza-Borrego desert for a dark sky star tour.
We met our tour guide at a designated location in Borrego Springs for a 2.5-hour lesson in astronomy. We picked a night with little moonlight and were able to see a significant number of stars in the sky compared to what we can see from our backyard in Murrieta. We could even see the Milky Way. Our guide had a huge telescope as well and we got to see the moon in detail before it set over the western hills. But even more amazing was seeing Jupiter and Saturn. Truly an awesome experience. Our group was limited to 10 people so we each got plenty of time on the telescope. Our tour guide, Dennis, was just incredible and, like I said, we had an amazing lesson in astronomy.
We spent the night at the Borrego Valley Inn, which was also amazing. This was just an overnight trip, but so worth it. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to see more than they can see at home. Also, the weather was very hot and even at 10 p.m. at night when our program was over, it was still in the high 90s!!! But definitely worth it.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What we’re recommending
At the Danziger Gallery in Los Angeles, a time capsule of ’70s Los Angeles beaches.
And before you go, some good news
Perhaps you’ve heard of Alyssa Wang, a 27-year-old who’s probably the internet’s first full-time boba tea content creator.
Over the past five years, Wang has made more than 70 YouTube videos documenting her countless visits to Bay Area boba shops. Her favorite, Urban Ritual, even named a drink after her. And whenever Wang posts about the store, sales spike 10 percent.