The West End Farmers’ Market, now in its fourth year, has opened for the season in its new location at Depot Park in Railroad Square, next to the new SMART train station.
The young, hip market, which is held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through November, moved from its original site by the DeTurk Round Barn in the West End neighborhood to a more central location in order to attract a wider range of customers.
“Our last spot was idyllic and wonderful, but the new location offers the farmers’ market to a broader portion of our community,” said Allen Thomas, market manager. “The new location has shade, beautiful buildings around it and tons of parking.”
There were about two dozen vendors in attendance last Sunday, with enough room left in the parking lot for about 10 more. Thomas estimated that the crowd included about 75 percent returning customers, plus some new folks staying at a few of the hotels in the vicinity.
Many of the market’s regular farmers and artisan food producers have returned, along with a new crop of food vendors serving everything from Japanese savory pancakes (okonomiyaki) to Indian food. Les Goodman of Goodman’s Jewish Deli has returned with a simplified menu of homemade bagels with cream cheese spreads.
This Sunday, April 10, the market will kick off the first of its new chef’s demonstration by cookbook author Michele Anna Jordan. The demos are sponsored by Teevax, a Railroad Square appliance company.
“She will be giving out tastes and doing a market walk, where she will take people through the market and show them what to buy and how to prepare it,” Thomas said. “There will be eight different demos, on the second Sunday of every month.”
During its opening day on April 3, farmers selling their produce and meat products included Leisen’s Bridgeway Farm of Santa Rosa, Blue Leg Farms of Santa Rosa/Cazadero, Singing Frogs Farm of Sebastopol and Ortiz Brothers Farm of Santa Rosa. Other farmers are expected to join the market n progress, bringing seasonal produce like blueberries, strawberries and peaches.
Artisan food producers in attendance last weekend included the Juice Runners, Revolution Bread, Sonoma County Meat Co., Criminal Baking Co. and Retrograde Roasters, a mobile coffee bar.
Each week, the market features live music, which is booked by Josh Windmiller and Second Octave Entertainment. On June 5, the market plans to collaborate with the Railroad Square Music Festival. Thomas said that the money from beer sales during that event will go toward the market’s EBT Match Program, which allows anyone with EBT to come to the market and get matching funds to spend on anything they want.
With the SMART Train scheduled to start running sometime this fall, Thomas hopes that the market will serve as a cheerful welcome mat for visitors to Santa Rosa while spreading the word about the agricultural bounty of Sonoma County.
“It was always part of our long-term vision to be close to the railroad development,” he said. “It will give people something to do when they get off the train on Sunday morning.”