The Turlock Certified Farmers Market just surpassed the halfway mark of its season, which runs through Oct. 14, but new vendors, produce and activities can still be found during the remaining months of the market’s second season at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds.
Since opening in 2010, TCFM has come to know several homes, from its first days on South Broadway Street to eventually greeting the Turlock community every Saturday on East Main Street, where Market Manager Derek Griffin believes it became known as one of the premier markets in the Central Valley.
After Golden State Farmers Market Association was selected by the Turlock City Council to run the downtown farmers market last March, following a new request for proposals process implanted by the City in December 2015, TCFM decided to move to the fairgrounds and has flourished there since.
“We really like it out here because there’s more room to grow,” said Griffin. “Our location has changed, but I don’t think the community support will ever go away.”
Hosting the market at the fairgrounds has allowed for more opportunities when it comes to entertaining those perusing the aisles for fresh fruits and vegetables, like the ability to have the Knights Express, a kiddie train ride, at the market’s seventh annual Kids Day, set to take place Saturday.
Along with the Knights Express, Kids Day will also feature two educational wildlife shows from Cruzin’ Critters, where children can get up close and personal with animals like pythons, parrots and lizards, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Kids Day visitors can also enjoy the market’s Traveling Story Tent and a full live band, and will even have the opportunity for a free photo-op with a mermaid and pirate who are visiting the market for the day.
“We do Kids Day every year, because introducing kids to farmers markets is very important,” said Griffin. “It gives them access to foods with nutritional value, and gets them away from the fast food. The educational part of it is what we’re all about.”
With events like Kids Day, TCFM gives back to the community that helps support it. That community support is also what inspired vendor Chas Sierra of home décor shop Wood Therapy to begin selling her products at the market for the first time this season.
“I like to call them the ‘farmers market faithful,’” said Sierra. “There are so many people that are supporting this place and they come through every weekend.”
Sierra was born and raised in Turlock before moving to Patterson, where, after teaching for three years, she decided to stay at home with her children. During her days at home, she began playing with her husband’s tools in the shed, which led to creating pieces for the home out of reclaimed wood. Now, Sierra sells her farmhouse-style décor pieces, like welcome signs, growth charts and wooden flags every Saturday at the market.
“Working with reclaimed wood is a lot of work, but you get to bring new life to it and it gets to sit on someone’s wall or in someone’s home and be part of their future for a few more years,” said Sierra.
While new vendors like Sierra often set up shop at the beginning of the market’s season in April, vendors also come and go as the season goes on. For instance, Griffin explained, TCFM has already bid farewell to its local blueberry provider, Cottage Blueberries.
“As the season goes on, some come and some go,” said Griffin. “It’s s six-month season, so we’re always in a state of flux.”
New to the market in recent weeks is Turlock Fruit Company, whose melons are finally in season. Since the melon season didn’t begin until mid-July, TCFM market goers were eagerly awaiting their arrival. Eight varieties of melon are currently available at the market, including Golden Honeydews, Heirloom cantaloupes and Galia melons, and two more are still being harvested, said Kathy Smith of TFC.
“When we opened up, they were waiting for the melons to come because California melons are the best in the world,” said Smith.
The line at Smith’s TFC booth, filled with Turlock community members happy to support a local business, reflects the success that TCFM has found thanks to the community over the past eight years.
“We’ve been the established market in this community for eight years, and after everything we’ve been through with the community, they always stand up when the time comes to help and support us,” said Griffin.