When you walk into the dappled shade of Sebastopol’s downtown plaza, you get the feeling of walking into a harmonious land filled with community, sharing, trades, surprises and a land that just happens to have some of the most beautiful produce you can’t find in other more ordinary worlds. It is an ethereal land that disappears only to come back again the next Sunday, all year round.
Children earnestly shop, making important decisions on their purchases: honey stick? bracelet? granola? French macaroon or a gluten free brownie? People are dancing to the music from the band in the gazebo. Javier, the goat cheese purveyor (who milks the goats and makes the cheese) is playing his Peruvian flute.
You’ll see old and new acquaintances chatting easily while the market streams around them - a vendor rushing to the peach stand to make a trade, farmers warning their customers that this is the last week for the asparagus. Grandmas and Grandpas, children, bicyclists, bikers, bohemians, rock stars, restauranteurs, ladies arm in arm after church, a group of high school students handing out notices for their upcoming play, visitors to the wine country, adventurers on their way to the coast, all at the market to soak up the scene and do a little shopping.
The farmers and small producers care deeply about the food they raise and it shows. Rare and small boutique fruits and vegetables come to the market for a lucky week or two. “Regular” vegetables, carrots, potatoes, onions, zucchini, tomatoes (oh the tomatoes!), that can be easily recognized and found in the grocery store are so fresh and wholesome, you’ll be reluctant to buy them cold and hard in a conventional super market again.
I must mention pastries: Paleo, Gluten-Free, traditional French, American Pie, and Vegan are all available and exist happily side-by-side. Handmade croissants on a Sunday morning with coffee are a real treat. Even the availability of different beverages is impressive. You can choose from Nan’s freshly made Herbal Tonics, Puer tea, Chai, Rainforest Hot Chocolate, Coffee coffee coffee, Lemonade, Aqua Fresca, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Juices, Mayan Chocolate Elixir and Bone Broth.
You will also find flowers, eggs, berries, meat raised by the folks at the market – fresh fish, lamb, beef, pork, goat and rabbit. Plus the best sausages I have ever eaten made fresh for each market.
And how to make the difficult decision about what to have for lunch as you sit by the fountain? Would you like a Duck Tacos, Paella, Chicken Tikka, a fresh Vegetable Omlette, or, perhaps, a Sushi Burrito?