Jeff Kamper of K&J Orchards helps customers who flock to the busy produce stand. Photo by Debra Moore
Shoppers venture there for the fresh fruits and vegetables, but the vendors go because it’s fun.
“This is the most fun for me by far,” said winemaker Grant Raney about Romano’s Farmers Market at Sierra Valley Farms.
Raney, of Grant Eddie Winery, has been offering his wines for sale and sampling at Romano’s Farmers Market for the past four years.
“Everything is right here — good produce, fish, meat — Gary knows what he’s doing,” Raney said.
“Gary” is Gary Romano, who turned a produce stand on the family farm into the first on-farm farmers market in the state in 2007.
Baskets of fresh, plump cherries tempt visitors when they visit Romano’s Farmers Market. In addition to fruits and vegetables, shoppers can purchase meat, fish, baked goods, olive oils, wine and much more. “It’s one-stop shopping,” said Gary Romano. Photo by Debra Moore
“I wanted to provide a one-stop shop for our customers,” Romano said. For him, that meant not just offering fruits and vegetables, but everything a family would need for a good meal.
He sought out vendors who could offer the highest quality local meat, fresh fish, wine, cheese, pasta, baked goods, oils, vinegars, condiments, jams and jellies, in addition to produce.
He also limits the number of vendors in each category. “We want to limit competition so that the vendors can make money,” he said. If one vendor can’t keep up with demand then a second will be added.
The vendors are happy with the amount of business they do each week in the Sierra Valley, where as many as 400 people stream through the market.
Kalayada Ammatya of K&J Orchards brings sweet peaches, nectarines and cherries from her Winters farm. She is in Sierra Valley on Friday, and on Saturday morning she is at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
Ammatya caters to her customers, slicing up fresh fruit to sample and giving them tips on how to select the best produce.
John Drew, who brings fresh flowers and fruits and vegetables from his 40-acre farm near Grass Valley, said that the Sierra Valley Farmers Market is the only one he goes to “because it is the best one.”
He sells his produce to grocery stores, co-ops and health food stores, but always reserves Fridays for his trip to the Sierra Valley.
As he sits in a chair behind his stand he greets a steady stream of customers who have become friends over the years. He teases a lady as she selects some flowers and pulls up a chair for a buddy to sit down and visit.
Everywhere there is laughter and friendly chatter as customers mingle with each other.
Many of those who attend are regulars coming from Reno, as well as Lassen, Sierra and Plumas counties.
Kerstin Harrison, who lives in Vinton, said she comes “every single Friday.”
A group of bicyclists make it a weekly pilgrimage and enjoy lunch under the canopies.
It’s also a family affair. On many Fridays, you will find Gary Romano’s parents, Louie and Rose, as well as wife Kim and her parents, Joe and Marcia, there, while son Joey runs the cash register for his family’s stand.
Romano’s Farmers Market is open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is located about one mile down Road A23 off of Highway 70 near Beckwourth.
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