Farmers’ Markets are cropping up like strawberries this month, sweetening life all over the Bay Area. For those of us who could use a little know-how about seasonal and local eating, these markets are where it’s at (don’t be hoodwinked by the watermelons at the grocery store—melon season won’t start for another couple of months).

Though we’re lucky to have many year-round markets, there are also some that only hang around from May through October. We’ve rounded up some of those seasonal ones, along with our favorite family-friendly year-round markets.

EAST BAY

Grand Lake – Oakland
Saturdays 9:00 am – 2:00 pm (year-round)
One of the East Bay’s most popular, this Saturday market is also home to a Splash Pad Fountain and Park, where, on warmer Oakland days, kids, farmers and grown ups take turns at cavorting. Asparagus, strawberries, plant starts, green garlic, and fresh eggs are featured at this time of the year. Don’t miss the live music and vendor carts with steaming tamales, Himalayan cuisine, Indian samosas and sweet pies.

The Hayward Market
Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (year-round)
The Hayward Market boasts the arrival of Jubilee Jumps with two huge jumpy houses.   This market has grown substantially in the last year and welcomes several new local food purveyors—Simply Garlic, Arnold Enterprise, Swiss Dolice, and Cane River Gumbo. Friends of the Hayward Public Library has been selling used books at the market every other weekend.
Location: Hayward City Hall Plaza, located at 777 B Street (2 blocks from the old location)

Pleasant Hill
Saturdays 8:00 am – noon  (seasonal)
This market features live music, kid’s entertainment and festivities, cooking demos, and much more. Now through November 19.
Location: Crescent Drive, in front of the Century 16 Theatre.

Point Richmond
Wednesdays 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm (seasonal)
Learn how to cook with this season’s best produce at the Point Richmond farmers’ market. Every Wednesday evening now through October 12. Cooking Demos: at 5:00 & 6:30 pm.
Location: Park Place, north of W. Richmond Avenue.

MARIN

Tam Valley
Tuesdays 3:00pm – 7:00 pm (May-October)
This market is a local favorite featuring certified organic and farm fresh fruits & vegetables as well as fresh cut flowers,  local eggs, and Rolli-Roti Chicken.
Location: Tamalpais Community Center, Tennessee Valley Rd.

Corte Madera
Wednesdays 12pm – 5:00 pm (year-round)
Organic and specialty farmers, food purveyors, bakers and more showcase their bounty along the mediterranian style courtyard.
Location: Town Center Courtyard Hwy 101 at Tamalpais

Ross Valley
Thursdays 3:00pm – 7:00 pm (May-October)
Asparagus, strawberries, plant starts, green garlic, and fresh eggs are featured at this time of the year. Don’t forget to wander the beautiful grounds of the Garden Center!
Location: Marin Art and Garden Center

Fairfax
Wednesdays, 4:00 – 8:00 pm
Fairfax market is known as one of the most beautiful farmers markets in the Bay Area, and welcomes a handful of local growers from just over the hill as well as farmers from Sonoma and neighboring counties. This year will mark the Fairfax Farmers Market’s third season without plastic bags, so BYO bags and baskets.
Location: The Fairfax Farmers Market takes place at Bolinas Park in the Town of Fairfax.

Marin Civic Center
Sundays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm (year-round)
The third largest market in California, the Sunday morning market at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael features live music, pony rides, jumpy houses, and a petting zoo, in addition to fresh produce, pick up goodies from purveyors like Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Drozdzal’s Desserts, and even Pt. Reyes Compost!
Location: Marin Civic Center, San Rafael
Website: www.agriculturalinstitute.org

Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
Saturdays  9:00 am to 2:00 pm (year-round)
You’ll find fresh organic produce, meats and seafood, prepared foods, $1 pony rides, animal petting area, and live music. All vendors are local and include favorites Bohemian Creamery, City Bees, and Rolling Oaks Ranch.
Location: Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
Website: www.marincountrymart.com

Novato
Tuesdays 4:00 – 8:00 pm (seasonal)
Market favorites include the Ortiz Brothers Farm (Mario from Sonoma Co.) who grows tasty organic vegetables, Rodin Farms (Marie from Stanislaus Co.) who grow stone fruits and nuts; and Panorama Bakery (Ana and Eric from San Francisco). Open May through September.
Location: The Novato Farmers Market takes place on Grant Ave between Reichert Avenue and Machin Avenue.
Website: www.marinfarmersmarkets.org

SAN FRANCISCO

Ferry Plaza
Tuesdays, Thursdays 10:00 am – 2:00 pm & Saturdays, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm (year-round)
A favorite Saturday outing for many Bay Area families, the traditional farmers’ market experience is enhanced for kids with ferry boat watching, gelato-eating plus a potential streetcar ride or a walk under the Villancourt Fountain waterfalls in Justin Herman Plaza across the street.
Location: Ferry Building, Embarcadero

Inner Sunset
Sundays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (year-round)
Free cooking demos at 10:30 & Noon
Location: The Parking Lot between 8th and 9th Avenue, South of Irving Street

Mission Bay at UCSF
Wednesdays 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (seasonal)
New to the scene as of two years ago is Mission Bay’s own farmers’ market. Visit every Wednesday until November 16 for the best in locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
Location: Gene Friend Way between 3rd and 4th

Peninsula

South San Francisco
Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (seasonal)
In addition to a funky live music lineup every Saturday, (May 15 Em K; May 22 C. Turnquist), this market proudly accepts WIC-FMNP Coupons and EBT (food stamps). See the Market Manager to purchase tokens with your EBT Card to spend in the market. Now through October 29.
Location: Orange Memorial Park

Burlingame’s Fresh Market
Sundays 9:00 am – 1:30 pm (seasonal)
One of the few community-owned and operated markets in the Bay Area, this market boasts a balloon man for the children and local artisans. April through December.
Location: Park Road starting at Burlingame Avenue.

TIP: Seasonal produce wisdom can be bolstered by the “Local Foods Wheel,” a cleverly designed wheel that identifies what foods are grown in which regions, and what is in season at various times of the year. To find out about orders for the San Francisco wheel, email “info at localfoodswheel.com”; the cost is $12.95 plus shipping and packaging costs.

—Jennie Rose

Did we leave your favorite one out of our list? Tell us about it in the comments and we’ll add it in!