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What to Buy at Sonoma's Best Boutique Farmers' Markets

A sure sign of Sonoma County summer: heritage cucumbers at the farmers' markets.

Summer brings extra bounty to Wine Country farmers' markets, as juicy berries flourish, stone fruits hang like ornaments on the branches, gardens brim with colorful squash, and vines burst with tomatoes in red, purple, and gold. 

We know and love the big markets—Healdsburg, Santa Rosa Original Certified, Windsor Certified, Petaluma, Sebastopol, and Sonoma Valley Certified—but there are more secret markets to explore, too, offering excellent variety, obscure heritage items, and off-the-beaten path locations that aren’t overrun by crowds. Most of the participating farms are located nearby, and don’t be surprised if you see plenty of top Bay Area chefs doing their shopping there, too.

Bodega Bay Community Farmers' Market

Sundays (May-November): 10 am-1 pm, 2255 Highway 1

This is the only place in the Bay Area to find market goods from Raymond’s Bakery of Cazadero (exquisite breads and sweets), plus cheeses from some of the tiny coastal creameries Bodega is famous for. Other beloved purveyors include Salmon Creek Ranch (duck eggs, duck, goat, beef, pet treats, and the holy grail—duck fat), Bloomfield Farm (lettuces, herbs, braising greens, beets, fennel, strawberries), and Farmer John’s Eggs. Stay for brunch (Bodega wild salmon-bacon chowder is the bomb), plus live music.

Cloverdale Certified Farmers' Market

Fridays (June-September): 5:30 pm to dusk, Cloverdale Boulevard (between First and Second Streets)

Fill your baskets with Red Owl Farm garlic, cucumber, carrots, blackberries and strawberries; Sully’s Farm hand-gathered seaweeds; Karen Sue’s Eggs; and Ortiz Farm flowers. Bonus: Friday Night Live concerts rock in the Plaza right next to the market, food vendors serve everything from sandwiches to Hawaiian shaved ice, and there are kids’ activities to wear out the little ones, including a bounce house, face painting and a rock climbing wall.

Cotati Farmers' Market

Thursdays (June-September): 4:30-7:30 pm, La Plaza Park, downtown (Old Redwood Highway and West Sierra Avenue)

The downtown Plaza comes live with live music, food booths selling diet-busters like kettle corn, artists presenting their handcrafted arts, and lots of boutique ingredients to load up your royal pantry. Just a few favorites include Rojas Family Ranch (blueberries, cherries, nectarines, peaches), Bloomfield Bees (local flavored honeys), SucherNova Farm (eggs, locally raised meats, microgreens, lettuce), and fresh-from-the-oven Full Circle Bakery organic breads.

Forestville Farmers' Market

Tuesdays (May-October), 3-7 pm, 5700 Highway 116 North

Simply Ceviche owner Mateo Hernandez offers fresh ceviche tostadas, mango prawns, hibiscus iced tea, and fig ice cream. ‘Nuff said. But the tiny market, tucked quite literally into the redwood forest, also beckons with Bodega Bay-caught fresh salmon and rock cod, Neufeld Farm peaches, and “pampered” greens and veggies grown on the Corks/ Russian River Vineyards estate just around the bend. Bonus: Save room for wood-fired pizzas, and jam to live music from local talent like Crosby Tyler, a one-man band playing guitar, harmonica, and bass drum.

Kenwood Community Farmers' Market

Sunday (June-September): noon-4 pm, Kenwood Plaza Park, 200 Warm Springs Road

This joyful little market has replaced the former Glen Ellen Market, lining up booths wooing with Two Moon Family Farms produce and specialty peppers, Four Chicks Farm eggs and mixed greens, Noeller Farms almonds and walnuts, and The Patch tomatoes and basil. Grab a great meal, too, from options like Chai’s Gourmet Sonoma Vietnamese sandwiches, soup and spring rolls, The Farmer’s Wife sandwiches, and Nana Mae Organics apples.