by Derek Bromley
It is now public knowledge that the Napa Farmers Market will be leaving its “home” of the past four seasons at the South Napa Century Center. While it has been exciting to see the complex come to life as each new tenant opened its doors, it has been doubly exciting to see the Napa community warm to —and eventually embrace — the market’s new location.
A farmers market is a community gathering place, and as the community has gathered over these past four years it has lifted up new businesses (both in the market and surrounding it), while also benefiting from the bounty that the market brings.
As a small business owner who launched my business at the Napa Farmers Market, I am incredibly grateful to both the market and the Napa community for the opportunity to be a part of it. But as a Napa Farmers Market board member, I am genuinely excited for what the future holds.
On a busy summer Saturday, the market will host over 100 vendors and 2,000 shoppers. Fresh seasonal produce, meat, eggs, honey, seafood, nuts, olive oil and breads are all selling at a feverish pace.
Artisans are showcasing their handmade crafts, and prepared-food vendors are selling a range of choices from sorbets and pastries to specialty coffee and probiotic spritzers. Charitable contributions and stall fees help us fund our Market Match program, doubling CalFresh benefits to help the less fortunate in our community feed their families with wholesome, nutritious food.
A broad swath of our Napa community — from politicians and business leaders to artists and families, rich and poor, liberal and conservative — all are mingling, conversing, shopping, and sharing in the bounty that is the Napa Farmers Market. All of this is happening to the backdrop of performances by local musicians, and educational and entertaining kids’ activities like Story Time.
But the market’s success has created some pressures. The parking lot at South Napa Century Center, once a desert of open asphalt, is now near capacity at peak market hours. Far more vendors are applying for stalls than we can fit into most markets. And starting last winter, we answered the community’s demand to become a year-round market.
Our tenure at the center has served the market, the other center tenants, and our landlords, the Gasser Foundation, well. But it is time to find a permanent location that can meet the long-term needs of the market and its constituents. The market’s board is working with city and county officials, developers and other stakeholders to evaluate a range of alternatives.
My business, Ohm Coffee Roasters, launched on May 2, 2016 — opening day of the Napa Farmers Market season. Thanks to the platform the market afforded us, we now provide specialty coffee for some of the top events in the Bay Area, from BottleRock to Auction Napa Valley, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to the Napa and Sonoma Film Festivals, the Mondavi Summer Concert Series and Napa Porchfest to feature film and TV sets. We now sell our beans and provide training to a range of wholesale accounts across the North Bay and have just launched our beans in Whole Foods.
Another market vendor, Monday Bakery, debuted on the same May day. Owner Sally Latimer and I have compared notes, helped each other with business opportunities, and even donated a few joint auction lots together. When she decided to open a downtown café, I jumped at the opportunity to help her develop her coffee program.
Sally’s café has energized the downtown bakery and specialty coffee scene, and her business has taken off. Ohm Coffee Roasters and Monday Bakery are just two small businesses that the farmers market helped to launch.
Do you have a story to share about your Napa Farmers Market experience? Please share it on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #lovenapafarmersmarket to help show our community leaders the vital role that this market plays in our community.
Peach Pie Filling
1-1/2 pounds ripe peaches, cut in chunks
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Combine the peaches, brown sugar, bourbon, salt and nutmeg in a saucepan. Cook until the peaches start to break down, 5 to 10 minutes.
Make a slurry of cornstarch and water and slowly pour it into the peach mixture. Cook until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Watch carefully: the mixture scorches easily. Let cool.
Makes enough for one 9-inch pie
Kids activities at the Napa Farmers Market: Bring your youngsters to the market’s Education Station on Tuesday and Saturdays for Story Time at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. There might be coloring, matching games or other fun activities, too.
On the KVYN Music Stage: On Saturday, August 24, Scott Pullman will be performing. On Tuesday, Aug. 27, Stewart Degner will be our guest musician.
Harvest of the Month: Through August, enjoy a comparative tasting of melons at the market’s Education Station at 11 a.m.