News
June 23, 2021
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Farmers’ Markets coming

By: Irene Hilsendager
May 21, 2021

It is that time of year again where we soon will attend a market to see vendors, food trucks, bustling businesses and old friends.

Cotati Farmers’ Market is held in La Plaza Park every Wednesday evening from 4:30-7:30 p.m. starting June 2 along West Sierra and Old Redwood Hwy. This market has been extended through Sept. 29.

The Cotati Farmers’ Market was started in the year 2000 by Kristina Swan, a D.C. doctor turned foodie. Swan founded the market to bring Sonoma County growers farm fresh produce and locally made arts and crafts to the community.

After two years the Cotati Chamber decided to run the market and handle it with volunteers until 2013. At that time, it was becoming very busy, and help was dwindling so they were approached by Kelly Smith who runs the Agriculture Community Event Farmers’ Markets a 501© 5 nonprofit and has been in charge ever since. The market will be open on Wednesday evenings starting June 2. 

Rohnert Park:

In early January 2010, Pam Stafford was mayor of Rohnert Park and called Cathy Slack to sit down and chat about an idea Cathy was enthused about. Cathy said it would be great for Rohnert Park to have a farmers’ market with music. The possibilities were enormous and discussed and decided it was a perfect fit for the community in Rohnert Park.

They knew the city had to be involved so they brought it to the city manager. At that time they also began working with the recreation department and Guy Miller.

Slack would have the music under control, so they needed someone to run the market. Laurie Tatman, who was working at the Callinan Sports Center at the time, was recruited to get the ball rolling on the market.

The committee decided that it would be a certified farmers’ market, from the ground to the market directly. Tatman started following up by attending other markets and recruiting participants. Slack worked on sponsors and the music, which is an integral part of the success of the market. They were able to get restaurants to participate and it continued to grow. It took an enormous amount of work, but it has proven to be a huge success. The first year started in the month of June and continues to the present successfully with Kelly Smith and her group from the Agriculture Community Event. Farmers’ Market will be going strong starting June 4 at 4-7 p.m. through August 27. The market is located at 500 City Center Dr. next to the Rohnert Park Library.

Sebastopol:

The Sebastopol Farmers’ Market was founded on June 3, 1990 when trying to learn to develop ideas to vitalize Sebastopol’s downtown and get people out of their cars and walk around downtown. Neysa Hinton was president of the Sebastopol Downtown Assoc. in 1988 and 2000 so her and Betsy Timm would probably be considered the main founders who did the work. They sold sponsorships, hired a market manager, and created a board separate from the Sebastopol Downtown Association and worked each Sunday at the market for a few years. 

The start-up costs were donated in cash and materials by merchants and other business people including a $1,500 donation by the Sebastopol Chamber’s agribusiness committee and a local merchant, Mary Karlin.

Sebastopol Farm Market was the main event created as part of the marketing effort “Sunday’s in Sebastopol” which was designed for businesses to open on Sunday and visitors to come to “brunch, browse and buy local.” 

The Sebastopol Farm Market was started as a Certified Farm Market meaning that all sellers actually had to produce what was sold. The original market manager was Jennifer Joell, at the time of Laguna Farms. The market actually started across the street in the former Glendale Federal parking lot which is now the lot for Umpqua Bank. The first season was held there because the new Town Square was under construction. The market moved across the street after year one and remains located in the Town Square to this day. 

At the time of the first opening stall fees were $12 per week for non-members or $10 for members. An annual membership was $20 and memberships included a Sebastopol Farm Market apron. The group sold the aprons, potholders and canvas reusable bags both to get the word out about the market and to make a small profit to help fund the market. 

The Sebastopol Farm Market is located in the Sebastopol Plaza.

Currently CDC suggests masks and social distancing even outdoors and if you are vaccinated when there is a large group of people. They define large group as large gatherings bring ing together many people from multiple households in a private or public space.

So, bring your shopping bags and pick up fresh produce, have a bite to eat and talk over the loss of 2020 and make it a good year.

Other markets around the area : Santa Rosa Community Farmers’ Market Saturday at 1501 Farmers Lane from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Saturdays year round. Santa Rosa Community Farmers’ Market Wednesday at Farmers Lane Plaza Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. year round. The Petaluma East Side Farmers’ Market , 320 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma on Tuesdays from 10 a.m.to 1:30 year round. Petaluma Walnut Park Farmers’ Market, 4th St. & D Saturdays from 2-5 p.m. May 1 through Nov. 20. El Mercadito Farmers’ Market, 777 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m.to 1 p.m. year round. Petaluma evening market in the theatre district on 2nd St. between D St and B St. Thursdays from 4:30 to 8 p.m. June 3 through August 26.

Thank you to the City of Cotati, Pam Stafford and Neysa Hinton for the many bits of history and news thrown at me.