Charm to Table - Farmers’ Markets Fun in the Tri-Valley Area
One of the great things about living in much of California is the wonderful weather folks enjoy all year long. It’s the kind of thing that inspires young and old alike to get outside, do a little hiking or biking, maybe hit the beach. There are so few days that aren’t all about “shorts weather,” one can almost be forgiven for showing up in casual attire to work and formal gatherings! Naturally, areas in higher elevations will experience some snow, and the famous San Francisco fogs may see the population donning warm sweaters even in July. But overall, there’s a reason so many people move to the Golden State — the prodigious amounts of sunshine. And with that awesome climate comes another fringe benefit: some of the greatest produce in the world, available 365 days a year!
Agriculture is one of the main drivers of the California economy. And the Tri-Valley area sits on the front doorstep of this amazing farmland that stretches out from it in all directions away from the Pacific Ocean. This means that the local farmers’ markets in the area are always bursting with just about anything that can grow from the ground, often far surpassing the variety one will find in supermarkets. These are places where staple items like lettuce and apples can blow minds with all the different types of otherwise pedestrian items that can be enjoyed. Then there are the more esoteric fruits and vegetables that the daring can take home for experimentation. But it’s more than just a great place to grocery shop. Farmers’ markets in the Tri-Valley are social gathering spots with energy and events that make for an enjoyable outing that will include great street food, performances and more. Here’s a quick guide to the best in the area.
Pleasant in Pleasanton
Starting at the southern end of this cluster of agricultural gatherings is the Pleasanton Farmers’ Market that occurs every Saturday of the year from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. rain or shine at the corner of Main St. & West Angela St. This is a vibrant set-up with lots of energy, situated against the picturesque local shops that make this part of town a draw every day of the week. Expect to be greeted by the inviting aroma of kettle corn in this sprawling gathering that stretches the length of a football field.
Some of the more surprising available items include many different types of almond butter, butcher-fresh cuts of meat and — of course — some of the best sweet corn you’ll ever taste. Live music keeps patrons grooving as they stroll from vendor to vendor. And if you want to include a snack or meal, the many restaurants hugging the market make dining out easy to blend into your outing.
Getting More out of Livermore
Downtown Livermore is a hotbed for the arts. Dance studios, cinemas, live music — there’s even a Shakespeare festival here. And what better to feed the muse than with a homegrown farmers’ market? Located on 3rd Street between South K and South J, this is a weekly gathering all year-round on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with an added Thursday evening cycle (4:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.) from mid-April to mid-October. It’s the perfect place to check out before hitting some of the performing arts in the area or just after, depending on how you plan your day. Featured here is produce grown in local soil, exploding with everything from stone fruits to olives that yield some incredible olive oil (also for sale). Artisan wines and craft beers are also a big part of this market, with new vendors every couple of weeks ensuring a wonderful variety for your taste buds!
Doubling Down on Dublin
Located in the placid and lush Emerald Glen Community Park, the Dublin Farmers’ Market has a country feel as frequenters find themselves surrounded by greenery. Show up there on Thursdays from April through September, 12:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m. to join in the fun (right along the edge of Central Parkway). Besides all the amazing veggies and fruits you’ll find here, there are some prepared foods not to be missed. Artisan breads are made fresh in the morning for you to take home. Local honey comes in different varieties based on the flowers that the bees dined upon. Homemade pasta is a favorite that you can add your own personal sauce to. And it’s all next to an amphitheater that may just be cranking out live tunes as you shop! It’s a great space to plan a picnic as you can pick up provisions and then walk a little ways into the park to lay down your blanket and enjoy a grassy afternoon with the whole family.
The Passion of San Ramon
You know the old joke about the seafood diet? You “see food” and you eat it! Well, that’s pretty much the creed at the San Ramon Farmers’ Market. And fresh local seafood is definitely part of the cornucopia here. It’s a point of pride that some of the freshest fish and shellfish are always on display right at 6000 Bollinger Canyon Road at the City Center Bishop Ranch. There’s also an abundance of specialty dairy products to be found here, all milked from cows you can probably hear mooing nearby. The smell of barbeque smokers often fills the air, whetting appetites as folks peruse organic produce. And if you’re looking to bring home flowers to a loved one, you will not be disappointed with the bouquets on display! You can visit here every Thursday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Once you’ve had your fill of the market’s offerings, the City Center Bishop Ranch features upscale shops, a town square, movie theaters and any number of eateries!