North Coast Journal banner


May 25, 2006

Heading: Talk of the Table, by Bob Doran, Down SoHum Way, photo of strawberry

We're coming to the end of May, and believe it or not, summer is just around the corner, which means ever-increasing choices for locally grown fruits and vegetables, and a much-expanded schedule for the area's farmers' markets.

This coming Thursday, June 1, marks a turning point with weekly markets starting up in Henderson Center (10 a.m. 1 p.m.) and at the shopping center in McKinleyville (3:30-6:30 p.m.). The following Tuesday you can start shopping at the market in Old Town (10 a.m. 1 p.m.) and there's already a market underway Tuesday afternoons (3-6 p.m.) in Fortuna, with still more: up in Trinidad and out in Willow Creek, both beginning at 11 a.m. Sundays.

Then there are the markets further south, where the Southern Humboldt Farmers' Market Association has started another season. Everett King manages the Garberville Farmers' Market and handles record keeping for the rest of those in the SoHum association, an organization that he says has been around since the early '90s.

"Of course we've never been as big as North Coast Growers," said King, referring to the venerable NoHum farmers' group. The southern group is growing. "The Ferndale Market is going to be big for us; it started out as a much faster-paced thing than those down here. It's on Saturday, same day as the Arcata market, down on Main Street. They block off the street. We're getting a lot growers from the Ferndale, Eel River Valley area and quite a few — the larger producers — that also participate in the Arcata market." Among the dual marketeers is Andy Zierer from Flora Organica, who has been down in Ferndale in recent weeks while his wife sells on the Plaza.

Like the markets up north county way, the pickings at the early season markets have been somewhat lean when it comes to fresh vegetables. "We're hoping this week we'll get a lot more," King noted. "We have some folks with greenhouses who'll bring things in, and there's one grower out towards Alderpoint who has a lot of early greens and lettuce. It's a little bit warmer with less rain and they're in an exposed location, one that'll be good for melons later."

Garberville Farmers' Market runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Fridays in the Garberville Town Square on Church Street. Ferndale Farmers' Market is from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays at the end of Main Street where it meets Francis St. On Tuesdays choose between the Shelter Cove Farmers' Market from 11 a.m. -3 p.m. on Machi Road and the Miranda Farmers' Market from 2-6 p.m. in front of the Avenue Café. All of them should remain in operation until October.

By the way, market manager King says he's more of a gardener than a farmer and he does not sell at market. At this point, his garden in the Whitethorn junction area is going strong with peas, garlic and more. "The beans and cucumbers just came up; we get a late frost out here." And, I pointed out, more rain than anywhere in the county. "This year we're over 154 inches," he noted, which can lead to problems. "It washes the soil clean of nutrients so I have raised beds and I cover them in the winter to protect them from all the water."

Despite the late frost, he says one of his Whitethorn neighbors is bringing strawberries to market in Garberville. "I believe they do them in covered tunnels using remay cloth," which he explained is "a very light material; I think they also use it in quilting for stuffing."

I'm actually familiar with remay cloth: My wife bought a few yards of it this winter to protect our precious Meyer lemon trees, turning them into ghost-like apparitions on nights when the weatherman predicted a hard frost. It worked. There are lemons starting their turn from green to yellow right now.

It won't be the right day to pick up those strawberries in Garberville, but there's another SoHum event worth the drive south this weekend: the biannual Briceland Vineyards Open House and Wine Tasting, this year celebrating 20 years of winemaking in Humboldt.

"It's a really nice party," said Maggie Carey, who runs the winery with her vintner partner, Joe Collins. "We're tasting everything we've got and we'll have oysters and paté to eat. Hopefully it won't be raining. It's a beautiful day today."

Joe and Maggie have been throwing the doors open to pour their fine wine every Thanksgiving and Memorial Day weekend for about 15 years. This time they're rolling out some new 2004 Pinot Noirs, and a 2005 Sauvignon Blanc.

"And I have two really good Chardonnays from '04," said Maggie. "And we'll have our usual Humboldt Brut, which is six years old — an excellent batch."

Having tasted their bubbly champagne-style brut a few times now, I can confirm its excellence. "That's kind of our flagship wine," said Maggie. "No wedding is complete without Humboldt Brut," she concluded with a laugh.

Can't make it down to Briceland? You can taste Briceland Vineyards' wines along with wines from 15 other Humboldt vintners at the Art, Cheese and Wine Festival, a fundraiser this coming Friday, June 2, at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. Catch a preview of the upcoming North Coast Open Studios tour while you sip and sample award-winning cheeses from Cypress Grove Cheese and Loleta Cheese Company and listen to jazz by Holbrook & Bear. The event runs from 5-8 p.m. at the museum. Call 442-0278 to reserve your $25 tickets.

This just in on another food-related front: Former Humboldt County resident Julia Butterfly Hill is getting ready to climb another tree, or at least chain herself to one, as part of a protest against the city of Los Angeles selling land that comprises South Central Farm, a longstanding community agriculture project in South Central L.A. Hill plans on chaining herself to a tree on the farm along with John Quigley, who you may remember as the guy who sat in Old Glory, an oak tree he was trying to save. Expect this protest to go high-profile quickly with celebrities like Daryl Hannah, Ron Kovic and Joan Baez weighing in on the last-ditch effort to put off turning the farmland into a real estate development. More power to them. For further details or to donate to the cause, go to


Comments? Write a letter!

North Coast Journal banner

© Copyright 2006, North Coast Journal, Inc.