“This is a certified farmer’s market,” he explains. “The 40 or so vendors are certified as having raised, grown or made what they are selling. It’s direct sales with no resale allowed. That way the customer is dealing directly with the farmer or rancher; the vendors know their products; and the buyers have face-to-face interactions with the producers.
Next to his table, Michelle Costa of Mendo Ferments, sells kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi. Her bottled kombucha is made with sweetened black tea and a fermenting agent, a SCOBY—a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast—that creates an acidic, vitamin rich beverage to which she adds passion fruit, ginger, lime, hibiscus and other flavors.
Her sauerkraut and kimchi are made from organic cabbage massaged with salt, packed into a crock and left to ferment—depending on the temperature—for up to three weeks. She makes eight varieties that include beet ginger, pink sauerkraut and sea palm.
Linda Helland approaches Costa’s table and asks about buying another jar of lemon garlic dill sauerkraut. She says she is out of that variety but will have more in a couple of weeks.
“Her sauerkraut is high quality, fresh, crisp and delicious,” says Helland. “I’ve purchased other organic kimchi and sauerkraut but they don’t compare.”
Across the aisle, quarts of baskets, filled to the brim with fresh strawberries, are lined up on the table of the Ruiz Family Strawberry Farm, a multi-generational business headed by CEO Ciro Ruiz, who sits comfortably in the shade and watches his son Roberto and grand nephew Adrian run the stand.
The family manages a half-acre patch of organically grown strawberries—fertilized with worm castings, compost and compost tea—in Redwood Valley that yields as many as 80 quarts per week that are sold at the market through October.
A few stands down, Stephanie Hoppe is purchasing eggs from The Brady Family Farm. She likes to get to the market early, before it opens, to purchase items that sell quickly. Today her bags are filled with sausage, salmon, bagels, patty pan squash, greens, fennel and other vegetables.
“I like the food and I like to support local, organic farmers, maintaining the land around here for productive farming,” she says.
Halle and Mike Brady sell 30-dozen eggs a week that they gather from their brood of 120 laying hens. Their raspberries are picked from a 30-foot row the night before or on the morning of the market.