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June 26, 2022

Healdsburg Farmers’ Market Gets It Right

Tuesday and Saturday markets have something for everyone

Downtown Healdsburg is a hopping place to be on Saturday and Tuesday mornings, all the better for locals and out-of-towners who like farmers’ markets and what they have to offer. Which is a lot. The selection of goods for sale at the many market booths includes local organic produce, jewelry, cheeses, baked goods, textiles, vinegar, crafts, honey and more. Much more. But don’t take my word for it; show up in person to experience the full array of food and crafts.

This year, the Tuesday market runs from May 17 to Oct. 25, from 9am to 12:30pm on the Plaza, at Plaza and Center streets. The Saturday Market runs from April 16 to Dec. 17, from 8:30am to noon in the West Plaza parking lot, at Vine and North streets.

A list of participating businesses is posted on the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market website (healdsburgfarmersmarket.org). Not all the vendors are able to attend every week, and some only attend one of the two weekly markets. One such vendor—and coincidentally one of my favorites—is Franco’s One World Sausages, which attends the Saturday market. Franco’s offers what are perhaps the tastiest sausages in existence.

The owner, Franco Dunn, has sold his sausages at the market for the past 22 years. He tells me, “I love the Healdsburg market and have many loyal customers who have become my friends over the years. They are a great bunch and come from very diverse backgrounds. I have watched many of their kids grow up.”

His background? “I am a retired chef from an Italian-American family,” he says. “I cooked in Italy for two and a half years and have had an Italian restaurant. I make many kinds of Italian sausages, as well as French, Mexican, South American, Asian and more. I make about 65 kinds and rotate them as it suits me.”

Other regular vendors include Lata’s Indian Cuisine, Mama’s Medicinals, The Italian Corner, Sonoma Woodworking and Sporgy, which offers mushroom jerky, teas and extracts. Like leathercrafts? Check out the fine purses, bags and wallets at the Adirondack Design kiosk. What about plates, cups and thrown pottery? A half-dozen ceramics vendors regularly attend the market. In addition, Bernier Farms, Dry Creek Peach, Duncan’s Mushrooms/Gourmet Growers, Eddie’s Farm, Edenberry Farms, Front Porch Farms, Hector’s Honey Farm, Kem Farms, Longer Table Farms, Mendo Grass, Middleton Farm, Mulligan Gardens, Neufeld Farms, Noble Goat Farm, Ortiz Family Farm, Preston Farm, Reyes Farm, Ridgeview Farm, Russian River Organics and Soda Rock Farms offer an assortment of produce, fruit, honey, mushrooms, microgreens and more.

The market, begun in 1978 and now in its 44th year, is governed by a board of directors. Its purpose, as stated on its website, is to “plan, maintain and protect the Healdsburg Certified Farmers’ Market, which provides for the direct marketing of high quality, reasonably priced produce for the benefit of producers and consumers; educate the public so they will understand the importance of supporting local, sustainable agriculture and preserve the agricultural heritage and character of the City of Healdsburg and the surrounding community; and raise awareness of the health benefits provided by the growing and availability of fresh, seasonal produce to the individual and the community.”

Furthermore, says the website, the market “is one of the original twenty-two Certified Farmers’ Markets in California. We are a mutual benefit, non-profit organization, owned and operated by the farmers and vendors of the market.”

“Corazon will be having a day at the market. Of course, we’ll have full-on zucchini and pumpkin festivals this year, and our getting-bigger-every-year crafts market. Also new will be more nonprofits, such as the Sonoma County Library, Healdsburg Center for the Arts and, of course, our beloved Master Gardeners.”

The Master Gardeners, who used to attend the market before the pandemic, provide an informal plant clinic for the public. They also feature an information table, reference books and educational displays.

Of special note is that EBT/Cal Fresh recipients can get their benefits matched dollar for dollar, up to $20 per market day, by shopping at the markets.

My favorite thing about farmers’ markets is that they allow local farmers and craftspeople to sell their wares in person to their customers, with no middlemen. It’s win-win.

What’s Ciel’s favorite thing about the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market?

“It would be hard to name one thing,” she says. “The vendors at this market have become like family to me, so that part is huge. Healdsburg customers are sooo supportive of this market. I talked to other market managers, and no way do they see the kind of community involvement we have here. The beauty and ever-changing-ness of it is also so enjoyable. I never know from week to week what vendors will have.”

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