Agriculture

Another sign that winter is waning: Modesto farmers market about to launch

Local grower prepares for Modesto farmers market

David Christensen with Christensen Farms in Riverbank, Calif. harvests lettuce to take to market. He has a small farm that grows lettuce and other produce for Modesto Certified Farmers Market. The market launches its 41st season tomorrow.
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David Christensen with Christensen Farms in Riverbank, Calif. harvests lettuce to take to market. He has a small farm that grows lettuce and other produce for Modesto Certified Farmers Market. The market launches its 41st season tomorrow.

The Modesto Certified Farmers Market will kick off its 41st season Thursday morning, amid weather that’s starting to feel like spring.

The market will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Thursday and Saturday through Nov. 23, then the first three Saturdays in December. Dozens of vendors will spread their goods on 16th Street between H and I streets.

Susan and David Christensen will bring several varieties of salad greens grown on their three-acre farm just north of Riverbank. Later in the year, they will add tomatoes, squash, melons and other warm-weather crops.

“I love the market,” David said during a farm visit Wednesday by The Modesto Bee. “There’s nothing better than the interaction with people.”

The Modesto venue is the first of several seasonal markets that will open by late spring in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and central Sierra Nevada. The region has just one year-round operation, the Merced Certified Farmers Market. It is from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at 16th and Canal streets.

Under state law, certified markets can sell only food grown by the vendors, along with crafts and other nonfood items.

The Modesto market has fresh fruit and vegetables, along with nuts, dried fruit, meat, cheese, olive oil and other processed farm products. Visitors can buy crafts at some booths and prepared meals at others.

The rainy winter did not slow this year’s production much, market manager Jay Tachella said, and opening day looks to be pleasant. The National Weather Service forecasts a high of 63 on Thursday and close to 70 this Saturday.

Winter lingered as of Wednesday at Christensen Farms, atop a bluff overlooking the Stanislaus River. A chilly breeze blew across the spread as David Christensen picked lettuce for Thursday’s market — varieties such as oak leaf, magenta, red romaine and green romaine.

A small greenhouse has started to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other plants that will mature in late spring and beyond. And the henhouse turns out white, brown and faintly blue eggs.

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