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Farmers market season returns to the Mother Lode


Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Galen and Katryn Weston, of Blue Oak Farm, tend to their crops in preparation for farmers market season. The couple grows various organic produce on their Sonora-area farm.

K atryn Weston was washing salad greens Thursday afternoon in preparation for one of the first farmers’ markets of the season.

Weston and her husband, Galen, who own and operate Blue Oak Farm, spent their afternoon harvesting and processing produce that they planned to sell Thursday evening at the Certified Columbia Farmers Market in downtown Columbia State Historic Park, presented by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Katryn Weston said it is an exciting time of year. After a winter spent tending the garden but not selling much produce, farmers market season is a time for them to reap the rewards of their labors.

“We are working, but this is how we make a living,” Weston said of the local farmers markets.

In addition to the Columbia Farmers Market, which soft opened Thursday and will hold its grand reopening next week, Katryn Weston said Blue Oak Farm produce is also sold at the larger Sonora Certified Farmers Market, which opens Saturday.

She said the Sonora market is good for the farm. They sell about 60 percent of their produce there.

Blue Oak Farm also provides weekly produce boxes to about 50 households and delivers some food to local restaurants.

Katryn Weston said the market is all about community and is a great social place to interact.

“I see people who look forward to coming every week,” Weston said. “I look forward to seeing them.”

For the market in Columbia, Katryn Weston said she harvests the morning of the event, processes the fresh-picked produce before it gets too hot, then stores it in a cool location until it’s time to head to the evening market. For the Sonora market, she harvests the day before.

The Columbia Farmers Market also features live music, as do a few others.

And farmers markets aren’t limited to produce. Arts, crafts and other foods — including locally produced meat, honey, nuts and baked goods — are also featured.

Farmers markets are also held in Twain Harte, Tuolumne, Groveland, Columbia, Angels Camp, San Andreas and Copperopolis.

Organizers of the Twain Harte Farmers Market plan to return June 3, but are struggling to find vendors. Sandra Asquith, an office manager at the Twain Harte Chamber of Commerce, said they have one vendor so far and need five or six.

“We sent out more than 50 applications to people who have done it before, and we’ve received one back,” Asquith said.

This year’s Twain Harte Farmers Market will be held in the downtown area and will feature live music, Asquith said.

At a glance

Several farmers markets operate in the Mother Lode, including:

• Angels Camp “Fresh Fridays” Certified Farmers Market, 5 p.m. to dusk Fridays beginning June 3, Utica Park, Main Street, Angels Camp.

• Certified Columbia Farmers Market, 5 p.m. Thursdays, Columbia State Historic Park, Main Street, Columbia.

• Market at the Square, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, Copperopolis Town Square, Copperopolis.

• Groveland Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mountain Sage Nursery, 18653 Main St., Saturdays, Groveland, (209) 962-4686.

• Tuolumne Open-Air Market, 5 p.m. to dusk Wednesdays beginning June 1, Main Street, Tuolumne, (209) 928-4351.

• Twain Harte Farmers Market, 4 to 6 p.m. Fridays beginning June 3, downtown Twain Harte, (209) 586-4482

• CalaverasGrown Farmers Market, 5 to 6 p.m. third Wednesdays, 23 E. St. Charles St., San Andreas.

• Sonora Certified Farmers Market, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays beginning Saturday, corner of Theall and Stewart streets, (209) 532-7725.