A Story of Light – Lighthouses
July 28, 2016
Beer, Bison and Blugrass. will be the go-to event for coastal residents and visitors, combining top-quality, local brews, eats, entertainment and an added bonus: the event supports one of the Mendocino County’s most important and beloved non-profits, Parents and Friends, Inc. Mendocino CA.
Beer, Bison & Bluegrass
August 1, 2016

Ukiah Farmers Market

Ukiah Farmers Market. Ukiah Ca

Ukiah Farmers Market. Ukiah Ca

Ukiah Farmers’ Market: Getting Food Right

Manager Scott Cratty, the guiding force behind the Saturday Ukiah Farmers’ Market, sits at his table among vendors on School St., ready to tend to the needs of the market. Cratty has been doing this for seven years but says the market, the longest running in the county, has been a viable entity for over 35 years.

“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.

“I water them with a soaker hose once every couple of weeks for a few hours,” says Halle. “I don’t like to give them too much because it dilutes their flavor. These berries are small but far more flavorful than most others.”
In addition to raspberries and eggs the Bradys sell chard, kale and arugula and later in the season will have tomatoes, peppers, apples, pears and plums.

Mike Tanning of Inland Ranch Organics has been at the Farmers’ Market for six years selling organically raised ground lamb. He and his sister start with two-month-old lambs from Redwood Valley, feed them alfalfa and organic grain for six months and transport them for USDA inspection, butchering and processing to Marin Farms. He also sells beef, pork, eggs, and a variety of vegetables.

Five year old Zev is helping his dad Brandon Gatto with their Covelo Organics stand and, while munching on some toast spread with local banana jam, walks down the length of their table, laden with the freshest of produce, naming the vegetables: lavender, garlic, purple kohlrabi, Hakurie turnips, Chioggia beets, red ace beets, cilantro, raspberries, red butter lettuce, chard, dill, Napa cabbage and kale.

Across the way, Hunter Flynn and Isabel Quiroz from Tequio Community Farms in Willits are kept very busy helping customers with their purchases.

“We do everything by hand using organic principles,” says Flynn. “We work a half-acre parcel, rotating beds that produce three to seven crops per year allowing us to get an incredible amount of food from a small space.”
Cratty just finished up a few more tasks and has time to explain his philosophy.

“Getting food right is one of those ‘catalyst things.’ It changes more about the world than just about anything else. Eating fresh food, fruits and vegetables, without other added ingredients, is good for your physical health; it’s good for your mental health to shop in the fresh air, not under fluorescent lights; it immerses you in community and stretches your mind by giving you an opportunity to get educated about what you eat; and it’s better for the environment not transporting food for thousands of miles.

“The Farmers’ Market enriches our local economy. The money spent here stays with the local farmers. If you want to live in a beautiful rural place, you need to be able to make a living on the land, preserving the landscape.

“Making better choices about what you are eating—there’s nothing more you can do to make the world a better place.”
The Ukiah Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday year-round from 9 a.m. to noon on School and Clay Street at Alex Thomas Plaza.