If you talk to any farmer's market fans in the area who have been around more than a couple of years, they will wax poetic about the "old" San Francisco farmer's market - before the Ferry Plaza - on Green Street, or before that in the middle of the Embarcadero. This was a market with exceptional product and goods, but with the mellow, low-key, local feel of a small town.
Those who would like to recreate that memory need look no farther than the Marin Civic Center farmer's market. This year-round market is set in the shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin Civic Center building, and is held on Thursdays and Sundays.
This market has always been a favorite of mine. I often leave the foggy city, drive up and over the Golden Gate Bridge, and am brought into the sunshine and warmth of Marin County. Sunday mornings, the drive up is a breeze, and it gives me an opportunity to listen to KFOG's Acoustic Sunrise and check out the beautiful scenery.
In the spirit of my previous farmer's market reports, I set out to list all the vendors of the market. This was a losing battle, however, as I would estimate there are over a hundred booths at the Sunday market and I was quickly sidetracked by shopping.
Unlike the San Francisco weekday markets, the Thursday market rivals the Sunday market in size. Thursdays, I head directly to the Full Belly Farm booth, and am usually able to buy a good portion of my veggies from them. This is an amazing example of a polycultural farm that sells everything from fruits and herbs and veggies to almond butter, popcorn and wool. The workers at this booth are always in good spirits, and happy to answer any question. De Santis Farms is another favorite (both Sundays and Thursdays), bringing citrus fruit and other wonderful goods from the central valley. De Santis always has an unusual fruit that I have never tried. This week they had fresh almonds, which Jason's mother has told me are just delicious.
Sundays bring many of the same vendors, as well as some additional farmers who don't come on Thursdays. Quite a few are represented at both the Ferry Plaza and Marin FM: Lagier Ranch, Eatwell Farm, Rancho Gordo, Roli Roti, Happy Quail, Hamada Farms, Jersey Hill Cheese, Star Route, and Bodega Goat Cheese Company just to name a few.
I always make a stop at the Rancho Gordo booth for corn tortillas and wonderful beans. (While Steve is currently at the Ferry Plaza Market, he is not allowed to sell his corn tortillas there. For the moment, the Marin FM is the best place to pick up these delicious tortillas!) Orchard Farms from Sebastopol always has a wonderful variety of veggies. There is also a pistachio vendor who has delicious varieties of pistachios ready for tasting.
If you have the opportunity to drive about 20 minutes up 101 from San Francisco, I can't recommend this market enough. It is an excellent example of our area's best offerings.
Location. Marin Civic Center, North San Pedro Exit off Hwy 101, San Rafael. Head east and follow the signs.
Date and Time. Year-round. Thursdays and Sundays, 8am - 1pm
More information: Marin County Farmers' Market Association