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Now that we are moving into spring, it’s time to resume your weekly Napa Farmers Market ritual. What better way to do your part for our big blue marble than to get some locally sourced fruits and vegetables? Your planet will thank you, and the local producers will thank you for supporting what they are doing. Plus, you’ll probably bump into a few friends since the farmers market is the place to see and be seen in Napa on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

The Napa Farmers Market makes it easier for you to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Pick up a few reusable veggie bags at the Napa Farmers Market information booth. Bring reusable bags to the market each week and you can skip plastic bags altogether. Forgot to bring a reusable bag? Stop by the information booth and purchase a Napa Farmers Market logo bag. Your purchase supports the market and gives you “market cred” while shopping.

As the weather warms, we will see more fruits and vegetables at the market each week. For April the market is featuring strawberries and asparagus. Our Saturday chef demos are intended to show you what you can do at home with these ingredients, along with some of the other items that you can get from market vendors.

I have been excited to see vendors selling organic heirloom seedlings to plant in your own piece of earth. I love growing cherry tomatoes for garden grazing. I don’t believe I have ever brought a cherry tomato into the house. I consume every last one of them right off the plant.

I’m also looking forward to cooking with a variety of spring peas and beans like sugar snap peas, English peas and fava beans. Blanch your favorite pea or bean, dress with butter or olive oil, and serve them as a side dish for everything from fish and chicken to grilled meat. You can mix them, too. Sugar snap peas, English peas and fava beans are delicious together. Save the pods and trimmings for vegetable stock; a good stock will boost the flavor of your next vegetable soup.

The Napa Farmers Market’s prepared food vendors are a highlight for me. Whether I’m picking up something to eat on-site (crepes and kettle corn are my favorites) or a pie, sauerkraut, loaf of rustic bread or fresh-baked cookies to take home, I love knowing that I’m supporting local merchants. Plus, you can usually talk to the person who actually made what you’re buying.

The season’s first strawberries have been delicious, and they are more versatile than you think. Strawberries aren’t just for dessert!

Kids’ activities at the Napa Farmers Market: Bring your youngsters to the market’s Education Station on Tuesdays and Saturdays for Story Time at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

On the KVYN Music Stage: Kendall Osbourne will perform at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday, April 27, and Fred McCarty will perform at the market on Tuesday, April 30.

Harvest of the Month: Through April, enjoy a comparative tasting of strawberries and asparagus at the market’s Education Station at 11 a.m. 

Strawberry-Avocado Toast

1 ripe avocado, pitted

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large slices rye bread, toasted

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup fresh goat cheese

3/4 cup young arugula

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed

In a small mixing bowl, mash the avocado with the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed avocado on the toasts, dividing it evenly. Top with sliced strawberries, shingling them nicely. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Crumble the goat cheese over the strawberries.

In a small bowl, toss the arugula with the olive oil and crushed caraway seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish the toasts with the arugula and serve.

Serves 2.

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Sandy Sauter is the executive chef of public programs for the Culinary Institute of America at Copia (www.ciaatcopia.com) and co-owner and managing partner of Spork Kitchens (www.sporkkitchens.com), a commercial rental kitchen in Napa. She is on the board of directors of the Napa Farmers Market.

The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. The market participates in the Market Match program, doubling the value of CalFresh benefits purchasing power for all eligible food products. For more information or a schedule of upcoming events, visit napafarmersmarket.org.

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