It seems like the last Napa Farmers Market was just a few days ago, but in reality it has been five months. With a new season about to begin on Tuesday, May 3, market manager Charlotte Billings and the market’s board of directors have been busy getting ready.
Mayor Jill Techel will cut the ceremonial ribbon on opening day at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m., chef Brian Streeter of Cakebread Cellars will lead shoppers on a half-hour market tour and share recipe ideas and shopping tips. Tour space is limited, so come early and sign up at the information booth when you arrive.
This year’s major development is that the market has a new home. The Gasser Foundation is welcoming the market to the South Napa Century Center with open arms. The board of directors reviewed many potential sites, but all were unsuitable for one reason or another. The main goal was to find a site with abundant parking, and no other site stood out like Century Center.
Other potential venues had no storage space for market equipment or couldn’t provide utilities. Some couldn’t host both Tuesday and Saturday markets or had scheduling conflicts with market days. Century Center had everything a farmers market needs, plus a “can do” attitude.
When construction of the building on the south end of Century Center is complete, we’ll have an asset that will please all market customers, vendors and staff: indoor washrooms. No more portable toilets at the market. Anyone who has ever experienced a portable toilet on a hot summer day will applaud this improvement.
Biking and walking enthusiasts will appreciate Century Center’s proximity to the new Napa Valley Vine Trail. The market’s new location is 1.8 miles from the intersection of Main and First Streets: a 35-minute stroll or a 15-minute bike ride. Once you reach the market, you will find a secure place to park your bike.
The market’s information booth will once again be staffed by the crack volunteer team of Ivan, Herb, Jesse, Tristan and Luis. This dedicated gang has been volunteering at the market for many years. They answer questions, sell merchandise, process EBT requests and do anything else that needs doing.
Another great development: We can now accept credit cards for the stylish logo wear at the information booth. Stop by for a cap, T-shirt or onesie when you need a gift. We also have a new education manager, Barbara Ciapponi, who is lining up some exciting chef demonstrations and educational programs for children. And we have a new card reader that will make processing requests for EBT tokens much easier and faster.
When you visit the market, you’ll find almost all of the farmers, food producers and artisans who participated last year, plus a few new folks. I hope you’re as excited about the new season as the market’s staff and board of directors.
This recipe is adapted from “Fresh From the Farmers’ Market” by Janet Fletcher (Chronicle Books).
Fresh asparagus needs the addition of few ingredients to showcase its wonderful flavor and texture.
2 pounds asparagus tips
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Divide the asparagus between 2 rimmed baking sheets.
Drizzle half the olive oil over each batch and sprinkle generously with salt. Toss the spears with your hands to coat them evenly with oil and salt, then spread them out so that they are in one layer.
Bake until the spears are sizzling and just tender, about 10 minutes, switching the position of the trays halfway through. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.
The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., May through October, in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. The Farmers Market accepts WIC, CalFresh food stamps through EBT (electronic benefits transfer), and the Senior Nutrition Program. CalFresh users can receive double the value of the withdrawal from their EBT account at the market’s information booth. For information and upcoming events, visit NapaFarmersMarket.org or visit the market on Facebook.
This story's reference to the Senior Nutrition Program has been corrected since first posting.