New law aimed at stemming farm market fraud whacks good producers instead. 

Change is coming to California certified farmers’ markets, and while consumers may not notice the difference, vendors and market managers certainly do.

Assembly Bill 1871, signed into law by Gov. Brown last September, is aimed at stemming fraud at certified farmers’ markets but tucked a whole lot of other regulations in when passing through Sacramento’s byzantine halls. While Sonoma County providers await final adoption by the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioners Office, several new items items are afoot.

Some of the changes feel positive to market managers. Karanina Madden-Krall, the farmers’ market coordinator for Santa Rosa’s Downtown Wednesday Night Market, is anticipating the new allowance that lets winemakers sample their wares and beer producers sell by the bottle to the public as long as they contain the tastings to a roped-off area.

“I’m excited that beer and wine will be at the farmers’ market,” she says, “because it will drive a new crowd to attend.” Madden-Krall also likes that local alcohol sales will allow shoppers to have a more complete experience while onsite. “I really want this to be a place where people can come for all of their groceries,” she says. “Beer and wine sales will widen the number of people in attendance.”

Healthy+Free pic

Michael Woolsey Photography

But, Madden-Krall notes, AB 1871 has other oddities tucked into it. Farm eggs will have to be refrigerated and kept cold onsite, bread will no longer be available within the area reserved for produce providers, and meats marinated with herbs, for example, will have to be prepared with herbs that the rancher grew herself.

Sebastopol Farmers’ Market manager Paula Downing is plain old disgusted by what she sees as the fussy, fault-finding aspects of AB 1871.

“It’s extremely nitpicky and will give [the government] more ammunition to make trouble for the small farmer,” she says. Downing is particularly troubled by the new provision that redefines what an “agricultural product” is. It isn’t honey sticks or soaps or other familiar products.

Downing is mystified by the exclusion of beeswax candles. “You can have raw beeswax,” she says, “but you can’t have processed beeswax. But candles are not processed – it’s just beeswax poured into a mold.”

While the law is aimed at stopping fraud, Downing doesn’t see this as a local problem. “The goal of the law was to try to prevent people who cheat by going to the wholesalers and buying. We don’t have a problem with cheating up here. All the laws they make regarding the big ag farms hurt the little guys.”

Farm market managers are ostensibly the ones who will police the new law once the Ag Commission makes its final decisions. If many of them feel as Downing does, this reportage is unlikely to happen.

“The government can sue you now,” she says. “So instead of an in-house problem at the market, you’re looking at litigation about whether you can put your candles on a table. How does that hurt anyone but the small farmer and how does that catch the big people who are cheating?”

~ Gretchen Giles

Farmers’ Markets 2015

Bodega Bay

Community Farmers’ Market

At the Bodega Bay Community Center. This market features plenty of live music, kicking off on May 24. 2255 Highway 1, Bodega Bay. 

2255 Highway 1, Bodega Bay. 

Sundays, May 24-Oct. 25, 10am to 2pm.


Certified Farmers’ Market

Held in conjunction with the town’s wildly popular and really most excellent Friday Night Live slate of free music.  

Cloverdale Boulevard, between First and Second streets, near the Plaza, Cloverdale.  

Fridays, May 29-Aug. 28, 5:30pm to dusk. 

Accepts WIC and EBT.

Cloverdale Tuesday Farmers’ Market

Look for special themes and contests. 

225 N. Cloverdale Blvd,. in the empty lot next to Plank Coffee.   

Tuesdays through Dec. 15, 3pm-6pm. Second Tuesday of each month, January – March.

Plans to accept WIC and EBT by midsummer.


Certified Farmers’ Market

Held where everything legal takes place in Cotati: La Plaza Park, at the corner of Old Redwood Highway and West Sierra Avenue.   

Thursdays, June 4-Aug. 27, 4:30pm-7:30pm.

Accepts EBT.


Certified Farmers’ Market

In the lot adjacent to Corks Restaurant and the Russian River Vineyards, 5700 Highway 116 N., Forestville.  

Tuesdays, June 2 – Oct. 27, 4pm – 7pm.

Accepts EBT.


Russian River Certified Farmers’ Market

In the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto and held in the Sonoma Nesting Company parking lot adjacent to the town Plaza, 16201 First St., Guerneville. 

Thursdays, May 1 – Sept. 25, 3pm to 7pm.


Community Farmers’ Market

The Glen Ellen market is now happily ensconced in Kenwood Plaza Park, 200 Warm Springs Road, between Channing Row and Park Row, Kenwood.  

Sundays, June 7 – Sept. 13, 11am to 3pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.


Farmers’ Markets

The Healdsburg market is one of the county’s granddaddy gatherings. The Saturday morning event in particular is a great place to watch chefs in their whites pretend to pick up a full nights’ service worth of food with just one small basket.  

Saturdays, May 2 – Nov. 28, 9am to noon. North and Vine streets in the Purity lot.

Wednesdays, June 3 – Oct. 28, 3:30pm to 6pm. Purity/Cerri lot on North Street between Grove and Foss streets.

Accepts WIC and EBT.


Bohemian Farmers’ Market

West County’s coolest evening gathering boasts the slogan, “The Revolution Shops Here.” ‘Nuff said.

Main and Second streets, Occidental.  

Fridays, June 5 – Oct. 30, 4pm to dusk.

Accepts WIC.


Petaluma East Side Farmers’ Market

At the Community Center at Lucchesi Park,
320 N. McDowell Ave., Petaluma.

Tuesday: Year-round, 10am to 1:30pm.

Accepts EBT.

Farmers’ Market

Under the trees with as many crafters as food vendors. Walnut Park, Corner of D Street and Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma.

Saturdays, May 16 – Nov. 21, 2pm to 5:30pm. 

Special summer market then fills the Theatre District, on Second Street – Wednesdays, June 3 – Aug. 26, 4:30pm – 8pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.

Rohnert Park

Rohnert Park Farmers’ Market

Year-round market is new and features cooking classes, including for kids. Friday nights are ‘Party on the Plaza’ with live music and drinks (think: margaritas).

City Plaza, 500 City Center Drive.

Sunday: Year-round, 10am to 2pm. Fridays, June 5 – Aug. 28, 5pm – 8pm.

Santa Rosa

Downtown Wednesday Night Market

Santa Rosa’s summertime street party with plenty of live music and barbecue as well as vendors. This year, the wine garden expands to include beer. Now in its 27th year.

Downtown Santa Rosa, between Fourth and E Streets.

Wednesdays, May 6 – Aug. 19, 5pm – 8:30pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.

Oakmont Farmers’ Market

In the Wells Fargo bank parking lot at Oakmont and White Oak drives.

Saturday: Year-round, 9am to noon.

Accepts WIC and EBT.

Santa Rosa Community Market

In the Veterans Building parking lot,
1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa.

Wednesdays and Saturdays, Year-round, Wednesdays, 9am to 1pm. Saturdays, 8:30am to 1pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.

Santa Rosa Original Certified Market

50 Mark West Springs Road, on the northeast side of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa.

Wednesday and Saturday: Year-round, 8:30am to noon.

Accepts WIC and EBT.

West End Farmers’ Market

One of the sweetest and newest of our markets, adjacent to a dog park and the historic DeTurk Round Barn.

817 Donahue St., Santa Rosa.

Sundays, 10am to 2pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.


Sebastopol Farmers’ Market

One of the county’s best. In the Sebastopol Plaza, Weeks Way and Petaluma Street, Sebastopol.

Sunday: Year-round, 10am to 1:30pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.


Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers’ Market

A stalwart of “the island,” as Sonoma is sometimes known.

In Arnold Field, First Street West, Sonoma.

Fridays, Year-round, 9am to 12:30pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.

Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers’ Market

Plan to picnic on the Plaza with your goodies.

Sonoma Town Plaza, 2 E. Napa St., Sonoma.

Tuesdays, May 5 – Oct. 27, 5:30pm to dusk. 

Accepts EBT.


Windsor Certified Farmers’ Market

Earn Market Bucks for riding your bike!

701 McClelland Drive, Old Downtown Windsor.

Sundays through Dec. 13, 10am to 1pm. Thursdays, June 11 – Aug. 27, 5pm to 8pm.

Accepts WIC and EBT.  


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Story by Gretchen Giles

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