A Feast for the Senses
A visit to one of the many local farmers markets is a feast for the senses. Live music, cut flowers and displays of juicy fruit mixed with earthy produce. Samples entice you to try freshly baked bread, seasoned nuts, honey or specialty food items representing an array of cultures. For a selection of produce that is both fresh and local, the best place to start is a local farmers market, as the majority of the fruits, vegetables and herbs were harvested only hours before.
Each of the markets has its own unique atmosphere, but what they all have in common is the diversity of products for sale. European and hard to find Asian produce, some of which is grown organically, can be found next to specialty foods, unique crafts, baked goods and much more. The San Joaquin Valley is renowned for being a center of agriculture and is hailed not only for the quality, but also the diversity of goods produced. For sale is everything from free-range eggs fresh from the farm to locally made cheeses. When you visit a farmers market you never know what treasures you might find.
Lodi Farmers Market
Thursdays, 5:00PM-8:30PM, through September 4
School Street and Oak Street, Lodi
Put on by the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce the popularity of the Lodi Farmers Market is attested to by this year’s extended season. Visitors to the market agree that it is family-friendly and has a laid-back feel. The market features almost 30 farmers offering a wide variety of local produce. The Food Court has umbrella shaded tables where you can enjoy your purchases in the festival atmosphere. Given its location in an area renowned for its wine production, it should come as no surprise that several local wineries are represented at the market. The market has both a Wine Garden and Beer Garden, each with live music. In addition to food and beverages, the market has a number of hand-craft vendors who offer their wares, from jewelry to scented soaps. There will be special events throughout the season.
Weberstown Mall Market
Thursdays, 8:00AM-1:00PM, through April 26
Sundays, 8:00AM-1:00PM, open year round
Claremont Avenue and Yokuts Avenue, Stockton
Frequent visitors to this market highly recommend finding the booth for Hummus Heaven, where one can sample there unique varieties of hummus, including beet and artichoke. The fine Mediterranean food from this San Leandro based company is one of the many vendors who offer a wide variety of goods, from ice cream to olive oil, at reasonable prices. The price of the produce is competitive with what you would find in a grocery store. Samples abound and you can go from produce stand to produce stand until you find the sweetest peach or nectarine. Unique features of the market have included “grab bags” of mixed fruits at a reduced price and a tamale stand that takes custom orders.
Fridays, 8:00AM-2:00PM, through October 31
Near Bob Hope Theater, 242 E. Main Street, Stockton
Conveniently located in the downtown gives working professionals the option of picking up some local produce during their lunch break. Such lunch time visitors can enjoy the live music at the food court area. Market regulars recommend trying the cannoli, organic goods, BBQ and vinegar. Past attractions have include pizza that was made on-site in a portable oven.
Park West Place
Sundays, 9:00AM-2:00PM, through December 28
Park West Shopping Center, 10342 Trinity Parkway, Stockton
Directly off the freeway, the bounty of the valley can be found at the Park West Place Shopping Center. Fresh eggs, flowers, local honey, organic produce and herbs await those who come out on a Sunday. For your convenience they are now accepting debit and credit cards. Come during lunch time to be serenaded by the live music. Enjoy your sweet or savory purchases at the shaded outdoor seating next to the fountain.
Tuesdays, 9:00AM-1:00PM, opened June 3
Harding Way and California Street, Stockton
Shop for the ingredients for your next culinary creation in the setting of the beautiful University Park, near St. Joseph’s Hospital. Fruits in season include nectarines, cherries and plums. Some of the herbs the can be found this time of year are dill, tarragon and thyme. Representing the vegetables are kale, okra, peppers, radishes and much more.
Open-Air Asian and Farmers Market
Saturday, 5:30AM-11:00AM (or sold out), open year round
Under the crosstown freeway, between El Dorado Street and San Joaquin Street, Stockton
Of all the markets in the area the one not to miss is found on Saturday morning under the crosstown freeway in Stockton. Established in 1979 as a place for Southeast Asian refugees to both buy and sell produce. Today the market boasts over 80 vendors and attracts up to 9,000 customers. Here you can find the ingredients that are responsible for the unique flavors in the cuisine of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and India. Today the market has expanded to include an even wider variety of herbs and produce used by an array of distinctive cultures, from Italy to Pakistan, to be used by the culinary adventurous. Another feature of the market is the collection of seafood on display.
Downtown Tracy — West Valley Mall
West Valley Mall, 3200 Naglee Rd, Tracy
Visitors to the downtown Tracy market praise the locally made cheeses, olive oil, jams and preserves. If you are in the mood for Mediterranean cuisine try a kebab. Or, alternatively, pick up some lumpia for lunch. To satisfy a sweet tooth pursue the wide range of baked goods, including fresh baked pies, specialty cupcakes and kettle corn.
San Joaquin Certified Farmers Market — Tracy Market
Saturdays, 8:00AM-1:00, through November 22
Wednesday, 4:00PM-8:00PM, through September 24
10th Street, between B Street and Central Avenue
The motto of the San Joaquin Certified Farmers Market is “from our family farms to you.” In that spirt all of the products for sale are sold directly to the consumer rather than a distributor or retailer. Support the local economy while enjoying produce at its peak of freshness. Stroll along 10th Street browsing the offerings of the family farms, the hand-crafted items, or stop in at one of the shops. The new Wednesday night market is a great option for those who are busy during the day. Make an evening of it by exploring the dining and shopping options at the Plaza at 6th Street and Central Avenue.
Tuesday, 4:30PM-7:30PM, through August 26
Library Park, Center Street and Manteca Avenue, Manteca
Located in the new and improved Library Park the market in Manteca is known for its arts and crafts booths. Vendors have also included Pink Zebra Candles, Avon and Oragno Gold Coffee and Tea. Get a taste not only for sweet and savory goods, but for the local talent as well. The park’s gazebo serves as the stage for live entertainment.
Published in San Joaquin Magazine
Photos by Gemma Billings
Creative Commons Attribution License