Truly Local: Lake County Farmers’ Finest

Cornelia Sieber-Davis stands behind the curbside pickup booth, wearing a brown Lake County Farmers’ Finest t-shirt, her bright eyes framed by her bangs and the white mask covering the rest of her face.  It’s Saturday in Finley, and the Farmers’ Market is in full swing. 

“Many people choose to order online,” she says, bustling to move signs and boxes filled with produce.  “And every week we’re getting more and more things to buy on the website. I get the orders and aggregate them all here.” She shuffles a box around and puts something else in it.

It’s an adjustment to interesting times that seems to be working. The table is filled with boxes waiting to be picked up.  While we’re chatting, a woman wanders over to the booth and pokes at a peach. “These are for curbside pickup,” Cornelia says brightly.  “But, you can buy some just over there.” She points across the open area.  “They’ve got plenty.”

She chats for a while with the woman and shows her some of the olive oil on sale.  It’s just one of the many items it’s possible to find at the market.  You can find original paintings, jams and jellies, all different kinds of veggies, as well as honey, succulent starts, herbs, fruits, and cookies.  It’s a cornucopia of Lake County’s finest. 

Andy Rossoff sits behind a keyboard at one end of the booths, a white fedora on his head.  His music reaches throughout the market and down the long row of well-spaced vendors.  People chat as they move from booth to booth. It’s easy to spend an hour looking at each unique item. 

We pick out a small jar of the Giardiniera mix from David “The Pickle Man” Rice.  “Would you like this one instead?” he asks, pulling a hand-labeled quart jar out from below the bench.  “I was going to use it for samples, but I can’t. Two bucks more, and you get twice as much.” We gratefully accept and look at the jar as he hands it to us.  Asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, celery, onions, and peppers float, suspended in the brine. Small mustard seeds rock back and forth on the bottom of the jar.  “You see the asparagus up on top?” he adds. “I put that on top to hold the rest of the veggies down.”

Across the way, Mark and Tammy Lipps from Ripe Choice Farm sit behind their table. Just before COVID-19 hit, they moved their successful Manhattan Beach catering business to Lake County.  “We can’t sell food here yet,” Tammy says.  I presume she’s smiling behind her mask by the shine in her eyes.  It’s easy to tell Mark’s smiling; his mask is covered with a giant grin.  “But,” Tammy continues, “We can sell cookies.”  We chat for a few minutes, then walk away with a giant chocolate chip cookie wrapped in paper.

Meanwhile, back at the curbside pickup booth, Cornelia shares about the next step for the market. After meeting at Steele Winery for years, since COVID-19, the Famers’ Market has moved across the street to an open field.  “We can’t go back to Steele,” Cornelia mentions.  “So, we’re looking for a new space.  We want to be able to hold the market year-round, so we’ll need somewhere covered and with electricity.  We love having our Tuesday morning market at Library Park. Everyone is so supportive!”

In fact,” and her eyes light up, “We’re doing a survey to see where people visit us from, and to see where the ideal place would be for us to move. There’s the whole, ‘I don’t go south of Kelseyville’ thing we have to deal with.” She smiles. “So we’re working on the survey to see how we can best meet our customer’s needs.  To take the survey, send Cornelia an email.

Unfortunately, time passes quickly, and we have to go before we could visit all of the vendors. We did end up picking up some herb starts before we left. As we pull out of the parking lot, nibbling on a cookie, the car fills with the pungent scents of thyme and oregano.

Even though the market may be moving in the near future, it doesn’t mean that it’s empty now.  Not only do you get to shop for fresh local produce, art, veggies, and preserves, but you also have the privilege of knowing you are making a difference for your community by supporting your neighbors. And you still have all summer to enjoy the market; it goes through October.

You can find a Farmers’ Market every Tuesday from 10-1 in Lakeport’s Library Park and every Saturday from 10-1 across the street from Steele Winery in Kelseyville. For more information or to order online for curbside pickup, visit their website: lakecountyfarmersfinest.org.

There is also a Farmers’ Market in Middletown; for more information, visit their Facebook Page.

David Wakefield

David and Trudy Wakefield started The Bloom in 2018 to showcase the best parts of Lake County and to provide a local outlet for community events, arts, music, and writing.

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