The town where we are doesn’t have a year-round farmer’s market. That being said, we sort of like the challenge of finding new and interesting farmer’s markets during the months that ours isn’t going. Recently, we got invited to come see what the Midtown Farmer’s Market was all about in Sacramento. We jumped at the opportunity after hearing friends raving about the regionally curated market.
The market is held in a corridor of midtown flanked by uber cute new eateries and boutiques. I love this stretch of Sac with it’s twinkly lights strung though the trees and adjoining patios that create a downtown area that’s livable and safe for families with tots. It’s not a large size market. It’s just big enogh to get in and get out with what you need or stroll slowly and make a morning out of it.
What we loved most about this market was it’s nod to families with kids. In the center of the market there is a complete tot land with astro turf grass, bouncy toys, food theme placemets to color and child-sized chairs with umbrellas. We had to pry our two shoppers out of there when it was time to leave and we ended up spending much longer than we anticipated just because we actually got the chance to. Breath.
My Husband might have even been caught lounging in a chair, coffee in hand smiling from ear to ear laughing and joking. (If you know a Capitol employee during the summer you know how rare this behavior can be).
There was a waffle man selling right out of a vintage cherry red volkswagon van just like my in laws had in the 70’s and the most amazing gluten free baked goods from Davis. There were farm style flowers and mushrooms. There was fresh lemonade and chimichurri. This market had every flavor imaginable and we were digging it.
The Midtown Farmers Market is located on 20th Street, b/t J & K Streets in Midtown Sacramento. Parking is available for market patrons at 2020 J Street, adjacent to the market.
Free bike valet is a feature component of the Midtown Farmers Market, run by Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA). Bike valet will located every Saturday at the Market.
Our favorite farm stand just reopened today for the season. Not like we have been stalking their Facebook page for weeks or anything. South Fork Farm is the most amazing organic farm stand off a windy country road in Placerville. If you haven’t been to this farm before. Read on. If you have. You already know.
I found South Fork Farm searching for a local CSA two years ago. Their website was intriguing and we set out for a visit. We were hooked instantly. The farm is about a 20 minute drive from our house in El Dorado Hills and it’s the most gorgeous drive through the country roads of El Dorado County. It’s hidden above the hills that frame the American River and is just outside of Coloma and sits close to the wineries that line this region. From Hwy. 50 in Placerville it’s about a 10-15 drive and completely worth the trip.
The farmstand is open this time of the year on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am-4:00 pm. Later in the summer they occasionally open on Fridays too. Today the farm had radishes, kale, carrots, beets and chard in bins and salad mix and local goat cheese in the refrigerator. When we arrived today the farm was out of bread. The bread. My Husband and I talk about this bread daily. As often as we can. It’s one of the main reasons going gluten free is out of the question. This bread. Is so addictively perfect you won’t be able to quit thinking about it. Since the farm is only open during spring and summer months we have been deprived of this bread for far too long. We arrived today. Too late. The bread was gone. This bread is crunchy and charred on the bottom because it is wood fired in the outdoor oven just outside the farm stand. We have tried every variety and none can be singled out as our favorite. Because we are addicted to them all. I’m sitting here writing this thinking how I can get out of the house early enough to get our bread tomorrow. Here is what the farm says about their bread operation.
Our breads are handmade using traditional methods to ensure optimal nutrition and taste. We use no commercial yeast, instead our breads are leavened with a natural sourdough starter to allow for a long fermentation, resulting in a more digestible and flavorful loaf. We bake in a wood-fired brick oven that we built ourselves in the Spring of 2013. All of our flours are organic and our breads feature locally grown and seasonal ingredients, most of which come from our farm. We grow heirloom grains and are in the process of setting up our own on-site stone mill.
The farm has a picnic table for gathering together and some room to walk around the gravel driveway and look at the expanse of fields and farming that goes on. There is plenty of parking and is usally quiet with one or two other cars or visitors.
The fruit and vegetables we buy at this farm are unlike anywhere else we have been and my favorite part is the farm is unmanned. It’s run like a traditional farmstand with the honor system. Visitors figure out their shopping total and put their money in a money box. I mean. This is what organic farming should be all about right? Communities sustaining each other. Trusting each other. Living in a way that supports the individuals and the community as a whole? It’s perfection.
If you haven’t been convinced yet I don’t know what else to say. Except that South Fork Farm is worth the trip from anywhere around the Sacramento area. Our tots call this place the farm and they could stay for much longer than we let them. They have inspected every part of this place. Every flower. Every rock that leans into the fence overlooking the fields. Inspected every bit of farmining equiptment visible from the parking lot and every inch of the stand itself.
Now I need to get going so I can plan out our morning so as to ensure our stake on some of that bread. The farm opens at 10:00 am. See you there.
It’s spring! We have had a warm winter and early spring so some farms are experiencing earlier harvests. Here is our guide to shopping locally this month.
Market availability varies by region. This is a general guide for Northern California based on Bay Area and Sacramento growers.
Fall and Winter Favorites
These selections are entering the last phase of their season so grab them while you can or wait until next year.
These selections are right at the peak or middle of their season so find them and try out some new recipes while availability is widespread.
These selections are making their debut now so find them and explore some choices we haven’t seen since last spring.
When I first moved to Sacramento almost ten years ago one of my favorite sights was the adorable strawberry stands that seemed to be around every turn. The rustic white paint. Red strawberries adorning the sides of the old fashioned stands. It was one of my favorite parts of this time of year.
After further investigation I found that there is a strawberry stand in almost every part of Sacramento within a ten-mile drive. There are over 90 stands total. The stands are family owned and set up so that locals can purchase their strawberries right from the farmer.
The idea of the strawberry stand is pretty much my urban farming philosophy all bundled up in a cute package. Having a small urban farm that’s only purpose is to provide just picked produce for their neighborhood. The stands are set up alongside the land where the strawberries are farmed. There are picked at the peak of ripeness and then sold right there by stand owners and family. Owners get to know their neighbors and farmers and residents work and live together in perfect harmony.
I wanted to know more about these small-scale local strawberry farmers so I researched further. I found out that about five years ago UC Berkeley and UC Davis Cooperative Extension and a grant from the USDA National Research Initiative set out to tell the story of the strawberry farmers in Sacramento.
Most of the 95 strawberry farm stands in and around the Sacramento region are owned and operated by Mien and Hmong refugees from Laos, a small country in Southeast Asia that neighbors Vietnam. When the U.S. left Southeast Asia in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Hmong and Mien fled their homeland to avoid persecution. Over 120,000 were eventually resettled in the U.S. The population today has expanded to an estimated 300,000, with nearly 35,000 residing in the Sacramento area alone. Most of the refugees were farmers in Laos. In an effort to rebuild their lives, many turned to farming in the U.S. Most growers lease small plots of land and grow several varieties of strawberries.
The scientists working on the grant identified the local growers and expanded their businesses. They found that the average strawberry stand only makes about $15,000 a year in a perfect growing year. They tried to increase the stand’s revenue by forging relationships with local school districts, restaurants and low-income community grocery stores. This not only provided additional revenue streams for farmers, it provided farm-to-fork options for children to learn that their food could come from their own communities. The local fruit was offered to students in five regional school districts: Sacramento City Unified, Yuba City Unified, Buckeye Unified and Rescue Unified in El Dorado County and Roseville City Unified. I for one am so happy to have these hard-working strawberry farmers as part of our communities. Knowing more about their challenging history and work ethic makes me even more proud to see these stands in our neighborhood. Want to know where you can buy strawberries near you? A Google Map was created to find strawberry stands throughout the Sacramento region and surrounding areas. I found the stand in our neighborhood. Can you find yours?
Get to know your local strawberry stand owners. Purchase ripe strawberries the way they are intended to be enjoyed. Talk to the families that run these stands and find out more about them. If each of us can show our children what a valuable service these families provide, we are ensuring the successful future of urban farming in our communities. Without our support, urban farmers can’t survive.
We chatted with the stand owner on Grant Line Rd. in Elk Grove today and learned about his business and more about the variety of Chandler strawberries that he uses. Local farmers can teach us all something that we didn’t know about the food we eat.
Tell us the story of your neighborhood strawberry stand. We would love to hear it!
The stands featured in this post are the stands on Grant Line Rd. in Elk Grove and the stand on Green Valley in El Dorado Hills. The stands are opening around our area now and should all be fully open within the next month. The Google map has phone numbers for most stands if you want to make sure your local stand is open.