By Isabella Cook
Everyone at the Farmers’ Market has a story to tell, from the attendees milling from stall to stall, to the local purveyors whose products tell a fascinating personal history. It’s easy to get distracted in the busy atmosphere of a Bay Area Farmers’ Market, caught in the flow of foot traffic that carries customers past delicious foods and delightful hand-crafted items. Each Farmers’ Market has a different personality, and the Saturday Larkspur Farmers’ Market at Marin County Mart is no exception.
This market takes place directly across from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, and between the kiosks and the crowds is a beautiful view of the ferries parked and waiting to carry passengers across the bay. The smell of roasting meats, fresh bread, cut flowers and an assortment of unidentifiable goodies wafts through the market from end to end. In the middle of the strip of stalls, live music gives good cheer to the families and friends enjoying their local shopping experience.
“The Farmers’ Market is about people just having a good time, and each Farmers’ Market is very different and has its own personality,” explained Tom Turner, owner of Crane Creek Growers, from behind the counter of his cut-flower stand. Turner is surrounded by vibrant arrangements of blooms grown in Sonoma County from his family-owned, local flower company, which serves the whole of the North Bay Area.
“Some of my best friends are customers, and two of my three sons work in the business as well,” said Turner. “About 90% of our customers are repeat customers who are coming back to buy flowers for their households. The tulips are my favorites, but I like the lavender and the hydrangea too. We’ll also have cucumber, tomato, basil and mint coming with the season!”
“Tom’s been selling flowers for 57 years this month,” said Diana Rogers, Turner’s partner since 2010. “We do seven Farmers’ Markets a week, and the people just love the flowers, so it makes sense to do what we do.”
Close by Turner’s flower stand is Fallon Hills Ranch, offering farm-fresh eggs and a wide array of meat, all of which are laid and slaughtered locally. Mike Maloney runs the stall with his granddaughter, Abby Carvajal, and has been involved in the local Farmers’ Market community since 2010.
“Most of the people here come because they can’t find what we offer at the grocery store,” said Maloney. “We have lamb, beef, pork and eggs. Everything we sell here at the Farmers’ Market, we grow ourselves. It’s a family endeavor—the ranch has been in the family since 1875 and is one of the oldest in Marin County. We were the first slaughterhouse in Marin, and before we were approved for that, we were having to bring animals to Eureka and back, while now it’s much closer, and we can keep a lot of the freshness by staying local.”
Mill Valley Pasta Co., owned by Chef Tony Adams, is a stand filled to the brim with every kind of fresh, flavored and dried pasta the heart could desire. They offer small-batch artisan pasta made with organic ingredients. The pasta is sold alongside sauces such as pesto and vodka sauce, as well as garnishes such as Calabrian chili oil to enhance the at-home fine dining pasta experience. Mill Valley Pasta Co. opened in June of 2020 and officially launched at the Farmers’ Market one year ago.
“We specialize in extruded pasta,” said Adams. “We make a loose mixture of semolina and water, and instead of starting with a flat sheet and cutting the pasta, we put the dough through a solid brass machine called a die.”
Bronze and brass-cut pastas are, by the method through which they are produced, left with a roughened surface on the exterior, leaving them ready to soak up more sauce and have a better bite. Slow-dried means they retain the coveted al dente bite that mass-produced pasta lacks.
“We make more than 65 regular pastas,” explained Adams. “Some are gluten-free, some made with eggs, but most of the dried pasta is vegan-friendly since it is made without eggs. I’m a classically trained chef by trade, and this whole pasta career started as a Covid project—I had a vintage pasta machine, and I decided to make some pasta for my neighbors. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was making 30 to 40 pounds of pasta every week! After I bought an industrial-grade pasta machine on eBay, things really took off, and now, this last week, I made 1,200 pounds of pasta.”
Another local purveyor, Patty Doyle, operates Farm Chocolate Craft Confections out of Sonoma County. She began making chocolate in 2003 and sells chocolate bars, bonbons, dipped chocolates and cookies to enthusiastic Farmers’ Market customers looking to satisfy their sweet tooth with sumptuous chocolates.
“The chocolate we offer is 70%, fairly-traded organic dark chocolate, hand-dipped right in Sebastopol,” explained Adam Stopeck of Farm Chocolate Craft Confections. “Patty, the owner, does it all herself from start to finish. She even tempers the chocolate on a marble slab. She’s been at it for close to 20 years, basically her whole life since she was three, stirring a sugary pot on the stovetop!”
Apart from chocolates, meats, pastas and freshly-cut flowers, the Larkspur Farmers’ Market also plays host to kiosks selling everything from wine to fresh fruits and vegetables. One can also indulge in the tempting food trucks scattered across the market, offering everything from rotisserie chicken to waffles to “Sowl Bowls.” Other stands sell hand-crafted knick-knacks, clothing and houseplants, making it the perfect place to stop by and pick up a thoughtful gift for a loved one (or for oneself). Farmers’ Markets offer the perfect opportunity for both a memorable outing with family and friends and a chance to support small businesses by shopping local.
The Larkspur Farmers’ Market at Marin County Mart is located at 2257 Larkspur Landing Cir, just across from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. The location is perfect for both Marin County locals and for San Franciscans looking to take a ferry ride out of the city for a day.
The market takes place every Saturday, rain or shine all year-round, from 9am to 2pm. Mart Little’s music begins at 9:30am, and music for all takes place between 11am and 2pm.
For more information about the Larkspur Farmers’ Market at Marin County Mart, to see the musical lineup and the vendors, visit the website at marincountrymart.com/farmers-market.
This said grown, which I changed to laid, in reference to eggs.