With food trucks, a staggering selection of produce and other groceries, as well as home goods, bounce houses, face painting and sometimes even a petting zoo, the Marin Civic Center Sunday Farmers Market is fun for the whole family. Viewing the rows of vendors on a walk down from the Civic Center makes for a truly impressive sight, and there is enough variety to satiate even the most selective home chef.
We spoke with Shayla Sosa, the marketing and communications director for the Agricultural Institute of Marin.
How long has the Sunday civic center market been around?
AIM’s first farmers market opened in 1983 at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael on Thursday mornings. It was the first Certified Farmers Market in Marin County, soon followed by our Sunday Marin Farmers Market – now the third largest farmers market in California.
How many vendors participate? Are they all local?
AIM currently manages eight Certified Farmers Markets in the Bay Area and represents over 350 family farms, specialty food purveyors, and artisans. About 80 market participants set up shop every Thursday, while the larger Sunday market features about 150 participants.
Who can apply to be a vendor at the farmers market?
Anyone who grows what they sell can join AIM’s Farmers Markets. Farmers, ranchers, and fishers must complete a pre-admissions audit. Food purveyors, hot food makers, and arts and crafts producers can submit applications throughout the year. We give priority to artisan food makers who use ingredients from local farmers.
Who is the farmers market organized by?
Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization which organizes seven year-round certified farmers markets, a seasonal market, and a mobile market in three Bay Area counties, thereby supporting local farmers, strengthening local economies, increasing food access, and improving public health. For 35 years, AIM has been passionately educating the public about the health, environmental, and economic benefits of buying locally grown food directly from farmers, while connecting and supporting communities and local and regional food systems so the public can access healthy and sustainably-grown food.
What’s the range of goods available?
A variety of market participants set up every Thursday and Sunday including farmers, ranchers, cheesemakers, bakers, fishers, crafters/artisans, picklers, jammers, local coffee roasters, pressed juices, and other various food purveyors. The prepared food stalls include barbecue, wood-fired pizza, kebabs, sandwiches, dim sum, tacos and much more. Vegan and gluten-free items are plentiful.
Is the farmers market family-friendly?
All ages are welcomed and the farmers market is absolutely family-friendly. The kids will have a blast at the kids’ zone where there are jump houses, face painting, and balloon artists. Children can also attend our Diggin’ the Market educational tours and scavenger hunts through school field trips.
What do you think makes the farmers market such a unique place? What makes it such an important part of the community?
AIM believes the success of the small family farm depends on eaters who understand the value and joys of local agriculture. Local businesses, new and old, are the foundation for a community’s economic security. When locals buy from each other they strengthen their local economy which promotes economic diversity and, in turn, helps create a unique experience for locals and visitors alike. Buying from a local farm gives insight into the centuries-old relationship people have had with the land – learning seasonal varieties of produce, seeing effects of local climate, and understanding the kind of lifestyle that is necessary to grow what one sells, to name a few. Farm families and small businesses are directly supported when you buy from them. We encourage shoppers to shake the hands that feed them.
Why do you think our readers voted the Sunday Civic Center Farmers Market the best farmers market in the county for 2019?
Strolls through the market have become a Sunday ritual in Marin County. Sunday Marin farmers market is a community gathering place where you’ll discover and connect with farmers selling a bounty of seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables and more. The market is a culinary adventure, a chance to see, taste and learn about the incredible variety of California’s produce. The market gives you a chance to connect with the farmers who grow your food and get their tips on how to cook with the fresh products.
Anything else you’d like to add about the market?
The Marin Thursday farmers market is known as the local chefs’ market, the source of many of the ingredients served up at the Bay Area’s top restaurants. To ensure affordability and food access, AIM and participating farmers & purveyors will accept CalFresh/EBT and WIC vouchers and will provide a market match of up to $10 for fruit and vegetable purchases for EBT cardholders per market day.
For more information on Farmer’s Markets, check out our guide here.