Most Cheerful Farmer’s Market: Oak Park

“Bright and cheerful, super friendly” describes Oak Park’s farmer’s market

My plan was to visit 3 different farmer’s markets: the newest in Oak Park, the largest under the W/X freeway in downtown Sacramento, and the “best” in Davis, California.  Then I was going to write one post on all of them together.  After going to the farmer’s market in Oak Park, I am so excited and pleased that I want to give this market its own post.

I have been shopping at my local farmer’s market for eons; none of them are special enough to recommend.  Imagine a circle of stands in a shopping center parking lot, the only variation the heat of the pavement on a given Saturday.  Still, I enjoy the experience of cycling to the market, circling once to scope out how I’ll spend my cash and then making my purchases.  You can chat with the farmers and they become almost like neighbors.  I have bought flowers from one grower for so many years that I have literally watched their lovely daughter grow from small fry to lithe teen.

Occasionally I visit other farmer’s markets.  It is one of my favorite stops when I am visiting a new town.  I have great memories of a Minneapolis farmer’s market, a fabulous country Vermont farmer’s market with amazing wool, and many “market days” in England.  When I saw the ad for the Oak Park Farmer’s Market, it jogged a memory of my friend Alison saying she loves to go.  I decided to include it in my survey.

So many samples later, I bought a feast of bolani and toppings.

Oak Park has a bad reputation among long time Sacramentans.  However, it is now a neighborhood in transition.  Drive down Broadway from Highway 99 or 80 to 35th Street.  Park and grab a fabulous coffee at Old Soul coffeehouse and walk the two blocks to the market.  You’ll see women shopping in work out clothes that cost more than half my wardrobe, neighborhood moms shopping and pushing strollers, and lots of other people.  You may also pass a tough guy carrying a mean stick with his pit bull, while smoking a joint.  Like I said, the neighborhood is transitioning, but I never felt unsafe.

The farmer’s market is part of the community strategy to give the neighborhood residents better access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce sold here looked much better than the produce sold at my suburban farmer’s market.  It could easily sell for twice as much in San Francisco or Marin. And nonprofit groups were standing by to help you learn how to prepare it or preserve it.

Going as a vegetarian this Halloween?

I got the information I have been craving about the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen and an eyeful of beautiful chickens at a booth to promote home chicken keeping.  There was food ready-to-eat, and food ready to take home.  The massage station had great music playing and you would have to be a complete grump not to leave smiling.

It’s open 9-1 on Saturdays at 5th Ave. and 55th Street at McClatchy Park in Oak Park.  Most vendors accept cash, food stamps and EBT.

 

 

 

 

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Hot Italian Pizza and Stuff

 

After enjoying a leisurely stroll around the art and music festival in Fremont Park, I popped into the bar of Hot Italian restaurant for a pizza.  This yummy pie was the special of the day:  mozzarella, gorgonzola, figs, prosciutto, and balsamic reduction.  The first bite reminded me of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (in a good way).  The pizza could easily serve 2 people or 3 if you also had a salad.  The crust is very thin, but tasty.  It is not cheap: $20 with tax and tip, no beverages.  After eating a few slices and wrapping up the others to go, I was ready to pedal on.  They also have lots and lots of bike parking, although the vertical bicycle parking structures are awkward for my heavy one-speed beach cruiser with baskets.

It is a fun atmosphere with lots of different seating options.  It is a great place for a group.  Or you can sit at the bar if you are one or two people.  I have tried it three times now and each time the pizza has been very satisfying.  The mood and atmosphere was dominated more by who I was with than the crowd at the restaurant and lunch is more laid back than the busy evenings.  So pick your company carefully and keep your eyes open for a hot Italian.

http://www.hotitalian.net/

1627 16th Street, Sacramento, California/916-444-3000

Fremont Park and Chalk It Up Sacramento!

If you are in Sacramento for a convention or to lobby the legislature, you may find yourself staying in the vicinity of 15th and L.  It is a short and pretty walk from your hotel through the Capitol grounds and rose garden (Capitol (=M St.) and 15th Streets to Fremont Park at 15th and P Streets.  There are restaurants, coffee shops on almost every corner.  It is a relaxed local neighborhood park that gives you a flavor of Sacramento for free!  The Community Garden is lovely and just a block away at 14th and Q.  Frequently there are community events staged at Fremont Park.

On Labor Day weekend it is Chalk It Up! with music, food, and a free space to express yourself with chalk on the sidewalk.

 

From Saturday through Monday you can walk around and admire other people’s artwork, or sign up and participate directly.  Live music is also on stage on the corner of 16th and O Streets.  Food vendors and arts and crafts artisans were also selling their goods.  It was a relaxed, low key family event and a nice way to spend a few hours.  Increasingly, bike parking is at a premium but still easier than finding a parking space.

I had a leisurely stroll around the park at noon on Saturday and saw some people just getting started on their masterpieces.  Others had made good progress already with extra tools like spray bottles and paint brushes.  The playground was full of kids and the young woman singing into the microphone was alternative, yet mellow.  I chose to cross the street and check out Hot Italian for pizza.  (See blog post).  Then collect my bike and head to the used bookstore.