The Vineyard Farmers Market Showcases the Central Valley’s Best Produce
California’s Central Valley is renowned for its agricultural abundance. Locals know that there’s no better place to shop for seasonal produce than the Vineyard Farmers Market. Since opening in 1980, this Fresno institution showcases local growers and helps to make fresh, locally-grown produce accessible to everyone.
The Vineyard Farmers Market is held in a stunning 6000 square-foot open-air venue. As you enter, you’ll notice an impressive cedar archway covered in trailing vines and lined with outdoor lights. Under the archway, you’ll find the market’s 20 growers and vendors, ready to share their bounty with the community.
On Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings at the Vineyard Farmers Market, the Central Valley’s culinary superstars mingle with regular folks who simply value locally grown produce. Like many farmers markets, the Vineyard Farmers Market happily accepts EBT. This means that lower-income individuals have access to the same incredible produce served in some of the Valley’s premier restaurants.
How do farmers markets benefit the community and economy?
Felix Muzquiz, Marketing Manager for the Vineyard Farmers Market, believes that farmers markets benefit both the community and the economy. “You can go directly to the grower and purchase your food from the person who grew it. There aren’t a lot of hands that have been touching your produce – it hasn’t gone through the food chain. The food miles are very small,” she explains.
“Most of our growers are within 45 minutes of the market. The furthest away is two hours. We have two vendors that travel that far. So, everything is super hyper-local, hyper-fresh.”
The Vineyard Farmers Market offers growers the opportunity to sell directly to the public and to form relationships with appreciative customers. “It’s important for the growers because this is an income stream that they would not have otherwise. They would just be reduced to selling to warehouses and wholesalers. Whereas this, it gets them out and is a whole appreciation thing as well.They really enjoy talking to the customers, meeting the people, establishing relationships with the greater community. And, of course, you’re keeping your food dollars in your local community.”
Shopping…but make it seasonal
If you’re new to the Farmers Market scene, the biggest learning curve is seasonality.
Felix elaborates, “People are so spoiled by going to a grocery store and having everything available at all times of the year – which isn’t the case at all at a farmers market. You have to eat within the seasons; there are only certain things that are available. So, people start to learn. It’s a very educational process for people to be in tune with what is growing around them locally. Then, of course, the nutritional value is off the charts compared to something that has not been picked ripe. Everything here is picked in its fully developed state. It’s not picked green and then shipped across the country to somewhere else to be held and then shipped somewhere else. It has been allowed to ripen to perfection and then picked and brought here for you to consume within the last 24 to 48 hours.”
Is the Vineyard Farmers Market open year-round?
The Vineyard Farmers Market is open year-round, rain or shine. In turn, the growers plan to have something to offer to customers year-round. That means that vegetable farmers, like Garcia Farms, offer different vegetables throughout the year. Mendoza Farms, who specializes in berries, offers fresh fruit from April all the way through December.
Matching the grower to the market
Some crops, like microgreens, are always in season but have a more niche following. Zone 9 Farms founder, Gianni Raines, experienced limited success at other local farmers markets.
After joining the Vineyard Farmers Market, he not only expanded his operation but regularly sells out of microgreen trays before the end of the day. Gianni elaborates, “Once I got into Vineyard, the people who come there, they’re diehard. One hundred eleven degrees, freezing rain, they will be there no matter what!”
Felix cites Zone 9 Farms as one of the Vineyards Farmers Markets success stories. She adds, “The vendors are my top priority. It’s so rewarding to see everybody’s development and growth as they continue at the market. The connection with the growers and the customers – it’s all kind of a synergistic effect here.”
To that end, the Vineyard Farmers Market regularly highlights growers and producers on social media, and does an excellent job of communicating what will be offered each week.
Good food isn’t cheap
At your local farmers market, you can meet the folks who have grown the basket of berries and tended to each tomato. You’ll learn that for most farmers, farming is a labor of love – but it’s still labor. Farming is a tough job; there are no vacations and no weekends. Felix hopes to help the community understand this. “Good food isn’t cheap,” she laughs. Pausing for a second and with a more serious look, she continues, “Nor should it be.”
If you agree and value locally grown and produced goods, support your local Farmers Market. It’s a simple (and delicious) way to show your appreciation to some of the farmers who work tirelessly to put food on our tables.
Is the Vineyard Farmers Market open year-round?
The Vineyard Farmers Market is open year-round, rain or shine.
100 West Shaw
Fresno, CA 93704
Wednesdays: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. (hours change seasonally, so check their social for the latest)
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Find the latest list of vendors here.
Not in the Central Valley? There are amazing Farmers Markets and Farmstands scattered throughout the state. Here are a few of our favorite Farmstands.