Four years ago, my wife and I were looking to leave city life behind us to start a new chapter in our lives. Newly married and seeking a bit more quiet and a lot more space than our San Francisco apartment offered, we began our search for a place to call home.
Napa wasn’t an option at first as the commute for both of us seemed unrealistic — myself to Oakland five nights a week and my Superwoman of a wife to Palo Alto three nights a week (which she still keeps up). Nonetheless, we came up for a look in midsummer and fell in love with an 80-year-old Craftsman home.
A month later, our Haight Street apartment was empty and the U-haul full, San Francisco and all our friends behind us as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed north to a town where we knew no one.
It took a while for us to settle into our new home in a new town, a much smaller town than where we had lived for the last six years. It really wasn’t until two years into living in Napa, in 2018, when I started Royal Artisan Breads and was welcomed as a vendor into the Napa Farmers Market, that we truly began to feel connected to this inspiring community.
As a new face at the market, I was immediately struck by the strong connection among fellow vendors. Many have done business alongside each other at the market for years, even decades in some instances. You could tell that coming to the market every Saturday was an event everyone looked forward to, both customers and vendors, a day to not only stock the larder or sell the day’s produce, eggs, fish, bagels, bread and bacon (Encina Farms Iberico ham, so good), but to also catch up with friends.
At the Napa Farmers Market, it was easy to feel a sense of community among vendors, customers, market employees and volunteers. That’s what a farmers market should do, bring people together in search of good food, nourishment and company.
The importance of a farmers market to a community has never been more evident than in the past month. Simply keeping the market open has taken a herculean effort by board president Marilyn O’Connell, market manager Cara Mae Wooledge and the entire board of directors. Implementing drastic changes overnight to comply with necessary restrictions to keep the market operating as an essential service was no easy task, but the market’s organizers handled it calmly, seemingly unfazed, and maintained social distance to boot.
The Napa Farmers Market is a great example of community coming together for the community at a time when we can’t be together. And to witness firsthand our dedicated marketgoers continue to show up and support the market and all its essential farmers and suppliers has been truly heartwarming.
During these not-so-certain times, a visit to the farmers market may offer some welcome routine and certainty and provide much needed interaction with your favorite cheesemaker, olive purveyor, cattle rancher, baker and farmer.
Farmers Market Tartine
Roasted market vegetables make a colorful topping for toast. Feel free to substitute other market vegetables, although you may need to adjust the cooking time.
A few radishes, halved
A few rainbow carrots, halved lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Royal Artisan Bread, sliced
1 clove garlic, halved
Asparagus spears, tough ends removed, cut in 1-inch pieces
Scallions, ends trimmed
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
On a baking sheet, toss the radishes and carrots with enough olive oil to coat them lightly. Season with salt and roast until light brown, about 10 minutes.
Drizzle the sliced bread with olive oil and rub with the cut side of the garlic. Add the bread to the baking sheet along with the asparagus and scallions, stirring to coat the vegetables with olive oil. Bake until the bread is toasted to your liking and the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Divide the bread among 2 plates and arrange the vegetables on top. Add a squeeze of lemon and shave cheese over the top with a vegetable peeler, cheese plane or grater.
Please donate now
The Napa Farmers Market needs your help in this challenging time. Our stall fees are down and expenses have climbed with the changes necessary to bring you a safe market every week. Our farmers rely on us—and on you—to stay in business. Please help us continue to provide this essential community service by making a tax-deductible donation now at www.napafarmersmarket.org/donate.
Kids activities at the Napa Farmers Market: Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, Story Time has been suspended and the Education Station will be closed until further notice.
Harvest of the Month
Although food sampling at the Napa Famers Market has been suspended, be sure to stock up on fruits and vegetables to enjoy at home.
Napa Farmers Market temporary location: Until further notice, find the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the north parking lot shared by CIA at Copia and Oxbow Public Market on First Street in Napa. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for seniors only (65 and older); then 9 a.m. to noon. As a California Certified Farmer’s Market, we are classified as an essential food business and will remain open during the Napa County shelter-at-home mandate. If the situation changes, we will post updates on our website and social media.
Kyle Kuehner is the owner of Royal Artisan Bread and a member of the board of directors of the Napa Farmers Market.
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