Yes, it is true. Thursday marks the autumn solstice, and with that we will see a clear transition of the produce at the Napa Farmers Market.
Perhaps you have already secured your boxes of Bera Ranch peaches and bid the lovely Michelle and her crew adieu until next May, or perhaps you just showed up one day and noticed she was gone. In any case, our most local stone fruits (from Napa and Solano counties) have seen their season’s end. Soon our farmers who come from farther away will also display fewer of these juicy summer favorites.
While corn and melons may start to fade away, they will be quickly replaced by the highly anticipated fall produce like persimmons, pomegranates, kiwi and winter squash.
For me, the first pomegranates of the season are a bittersweet sight. Their market presence reminds me of the Greek myth of Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades, the god of the underworld, and mourned by her mother, Ceres, goddess of the harvest. I know that winter is imminent and that our market season will soon come to a close.
As Californians, we are mightily blessed with temperate weather, excellent soil, consistent sunshine and an extended growing season. Many of the market staples you love will continue to be available until Oct. 29, the market’s last day. From now until then, you can count on finding fragrant flowers, mushrooms, greens of multiple varieties, onions, garlic, carrots, radishes, beets, green beans, apples, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, eggs, cheese, meats, herbs galore, and some hardier varieties of squash such as Delicata and spaghetti squash.
I urge you to not take the wealth of our state for granted. For just a few more weeks, the opulent local harvest is still available in your community. Produce that is locally grown and freshly harvested has better flavor and more nutrients.
Once the Napa Farmers Market closes for the season, you will have to travel much farther to find produce of the same quality. So stain your hands with pomegranate juice; buy some potatoes and onions for storing; can some tomato sauce or zucchini relish; and experiment with the newest offerings of the season.