Market Celebrating 25 Years
Congratulations Orinda. The Farmers’ Market is celebrating 25 years with a promise of more freshness on the way.
The market’s proverbial doors opened on Saturday, July 26, 1997, as part of the certified Farmers’ Market movement founded in Contra Costa County by CCCFM (Contra Costa Certified Farmers Markets) in 1982. With the support of then City Manager Bill Lindsay and City Council Members Joyce Hawkins and Laura Abrams, market plans were put into motion.
As public relations co-ordinator for the market association at the time, I remember an exhilarating and busy opening day. The Board of Directors, of which I am now president, remains cognizant of our mission to support the development of local, sustainable farming by cultivating vibrant farmers’ markets.
All farmers’ markets strive to bridge the gap between food producers and consumers. The supportive relationship between the market, the Orinda Parks and Recreation Department and the City Council has been a vital link in the market’s success.
Market Executive Director Staci DeShasier described the market as small, but mighty. “The setting is beautiful,” she said. “And what’s in season is what’s at the market.”
DeShasier sees the market as a true gathering place where all are welcome. Customers come for coffee and breakfast, stay to shop and then enjoy some time at the adjacent community park. There’s also plenty of parking, a friendly staff and time to relax.
All markets, however, face challenges.
As more and more markets opened following the debut of the Walnut Creek market in 1982, we saw a need to find more farmers to fill the stalls. That phenomenon didn’t really play out for several years but is currently an ongoing challenge.
“Markets need diversity,” said DeShasier. “And we make every effort to find what’s best for each of our markets.”
Challenging weather, including torrential rain, wind and smoke have resulted in more safety guidelines for operating the markets. A decision was made in 2019 to go year-round in Orinda for the following 2020 season. This became one of the biggest challenges our markets (and the rest of the world) have ever seen. The market was designated an essential food source and continued to operate under strict COVID-19 protocols.
Year-round markets offer everything in-season, but after the last pomegranate in December and before the first spear of asparagus in February, the selection is limited. That is the time for any citrus lovers to shop the markets, salad lovers to pick from the best greens and stew lovers to find fabulous carrots and other root vegetables.
Wondering what’s coming next? Just ask your friendly farmer or market manager.
Fall is fast approaching and the market changes with the seasons. Farmers begin harvesting more squash, peppers, apples, eggplants, pumpkins, greens, spinach and broccoli. Choose from specialty foods all year round, such as fresh bread, honey, jams, hummus, yogurt, craft beers, beef, fish, eggs and cheese.
Look for our most popular event of the year in October – Halloween Harvest – which is fun for the entire family. Kids activities, including a scavenger hunt and pumpkin patch, are loads of fun when you’re all dressed up in your favorite costume!
The Orinda Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. More information is available at www.cccfm.org, facebook.com/OrindaFarmersMarket and Instagram at OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline at 925.322.6228.
Barbara Kobsar sells her Cottage Kitchen jams and jellies at the Jam Stand at the Saturday Orinda market and the Sunday Walnut Creek market. Barbara Kobsar can be reached at Barbara@cotkitchen.com.