Farmers market debuts in downtown Tomales

05/29/2019

It’s about to get easier for the residents of Tomales to get fresh, local food: a new farmers’ market begins on June 1 on the corner of Highway 1 and First Street, and will run through the summer on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “There’s not a huge outlet for products grown and produced in the area for local consumers,” said Brendan Frye, a founder of the Tomales Farmers Market Organization. “Lots of folks are going into Petaluma or Sebastopol to get those pantry needs, when you might have someone down the street growing vegetables.” The market will feature 12 hyper-local vendors selling a variety of products—fruit, vegetables, cheese, oysters, cider, baked goods, meat and more. Two women will share a booth selling jewelry and homemade clothes, and First Valley Inverness will sell their custom-made cutting boards. The primary goal of the market, though, is to tap in to the surrounding food producers to support the local economy. “We don’t want to create competition and crowd out the sales for specific things. We’re trying to keep it well-rounded,” Mr. Frye said. Vendors are taking a small risk because nobody knows what the attendance will be. A booth costs $30 a week, with discounts for buying a booth for multiple weeks. The Tomales Farmers Market Organization was started by a three-person team of Mr. Frye, who manages the gardens at Nick’s Cove; Christian Coffey, of Folly Cheese; and Alison Cavallaro, who manages The Tomales Bakery. Mr. Frye is in charge of public outreach, Mr. Coffey handles certifications and rules, and Ms. Cavallaro is the president. All three will sell their products. Their idea stemmed from an unofficial bayside market, small and poorly attended, at Nick’s Cove where Mr. Frye sold surplus produce from the restaurant’s gardens. In February, the organizers established the nonprofit, and last month, they held a public meeting to get feedback. There’s been plenty of support and excitement, Mr. Frye said, especially from residents who live in the area year-round. All but one of the sponsors they reached out to donated money. The market will also feature informational tables from local organizations, with the goal of educating marketgoers on equity, access and sustainability. Marin Agricultural Land Trust will have a table, and in the future, Mr. Frye hopes to see groups like 4-H, Tomales High School or CalFresh with their own. He also hopes to find a way to get excess foods passed on to the local weekly food bank. Organizers decided not to create strict rules about where food comes from or how it is grown or made. Instead, they started as local as possible, then learned about what vendors were doing to make sure the products were both local and sustainable. “It’s been a lot of planning and a lot of work, coming from idea to reality,” Mr. Frye said. “We’re hoping for good attendance, and we hope it’s a great time.”