“I’ll be there with bells on, with my canvas tote bag in hand and a big smile on my face,” said Contreras. “I miss the produce, the farmers, the crowds – all of it. Going to the Farmers’ Market is the highlight of my week just about every week.”
One of four East County markets run by the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, Brentwood’s is the first to open, largely to treat shoppers to a few more weeks of the asparagus season. According to Regional Manager Greg Pursley, depending on what’s in season any given week, offerings from 70 vendors will be found at this year’s market at one time or another.
Local farms get first shot at bringing their products to the market; other providers follow to augment the selection. About 20 area farms participate, attracting up to 3,500 customers per week.
“This is a very popular market,” said Pursley. “People say it has the greatest variety and the highest quality.”
As in previous years, the market will feature more than mere produce. Vendors this year will display everything from cakes, soaps and body lotion to chocolate-dipped fruit. Meat, bread, fish, cut flowers and pies will also return, as will a wide assortment of local entertainers.
“Big Fat Swing Company, Deja Blues, some rock ’n’ roll, jazz” will be on hand, Pursley said. “We try to provide a wide variety.” Art shows, clowns and even jugglers will make appearances at various times during the season. A finalized schedule will be available at the market.
Pursley believes the increased popularity of farmers’ markets in recent years is partly an outgrowth of our desire to know more about what we eat.
“It’s a combination of being aware of where your food is coming from, and the quality,” Pursley said. “Some things might be a little cheaper at the grocery store because of the volume they do, Pursley said. “But go taste that Safeway peach and then one from Moffat Ranch, and you can really taste the difference.”
After spending most of last summer a couple of blocks away due to construction, the market returns to its home on First Street between Oak and Chestnut streets in front of the Delta Cinema. Pursley encourages shoppers to check out the merchants and restaurants, too: “We also want the downtown merchants to do well.”
The Brentwood Farmers’ Market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday between March 31 and Nov. 17, and attendance is free.
Other nearby PCFMA markets include:
• Antioch Farmers’ Market at Somersville Towne Center – open Sundays from May 13 to Sept. 30, 9 a.m. to noon.
• Kaiser Permanente Antioch Farmers’ Market – open Thursdays from April 19 to Oct. 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The address is 4501 Sand Creek Road in Antioch.
• Pittsburg Farmers’ Market – open Saturdays from May 5 to Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market takes place in Old Town Plaza at Sixth Street and Railroad Avenue.
For detailed schedules and vendor lists, visit www.pcfma.com/index.php.