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A joyful visit to Library Park shows big changes, happy people
Hamlow Farms at the Manteca Farmers Market at Library Park. - photo by MONICA CANE

Last summer I wasn’t able to attend Manteca’s Farmers Market (revamped as Market & Music in Manteca) and I wasn’t about to have a repeat of that great loss this year. So on Tuesday afternoon I hopped into my old car and putt-putted my way down to Library Park for some fresh produce adventure.

I had expected to find a dozen or so booths but to my delight I found nearly 40 vendors spread throughout Library Park along with happy people everywhere. Dads were smiling carrying huge watermelons under their arms. Moms were gathering fruits, nuts and veggies in bags to take home as children smacked on warm Kettlecorn and other market goodies while playing. It was a joyful sight to see.

As I strolled around the market, listening to the live jazzy-style music, I stopped to talk to a few visitors. I asked them what they thought of this year’s Farmers Market organized by Manteca’s Chamber of Commerce and just about everyone seemed to have the same response. “It’s just wonderful and it’s growing.”

Local visitor Annette Medina brought her mom Angie, who just moved back to Manteca two weeks ago, to the Farmers Market as a way to reconnect her mom with the community. Upon their arrival, both mother and daughter noticed the increase of vendors right away. 

“It’s grown a lot from previous years. There are so many more choices now” said Annette.

Rich and Linda Torres brought their beloved greyhounds to the market and while they were mindful to follow the market rules regarding keeping their dogs away from food vendors, they plotted together as to how they could make their way to one of their favorite food booths, Lockeford Sausage. Before heading towards the tasty links, the couple commented, “This Farmers Market is awesome. It’s bigger than before. I hope they keep it up.”

Another visitor Joe Cathey, owner of Café Aroma, mentioned that he “closed up shop early in order to attend the Farmers Market” and was quickly impressed when he saw the produce and products vendors had to offer.

After chatting it up with a few other market visitors, I made my way to every vendor booth…twice. Retail vendors such as DoTerra, Manteca Body and Brain Yoga, Younique Cosmetics and Royal Prestige offered tremendous information on their various products and were happy to be included in the Farmers Market. Likewise, food vendors such as Hamlow Farms, VanderHelm Farms, ChinChiolo Farms, Delfa’s Garden, DePalma Farms were equally happy to display an array of colorful produce for visitors to choose from. White peaches, golden plums, blueberries, jumbo strawberries, zucchini, onions, potatoes, nuts, oils and even freshly picked crisp lettuce, lined the booths.

Every vendor offered some sort of sample of their produce which only added to the joyful atmosphere. While all of the samples I tried were delicious, one of my personal favorites was a plump apricot from Hamlow Farms. I took one bite into the small luscious fruit and instantly sweet juice ran down my arm and all over my camera. It was a sticky mess and it was well worth it. 

 Another favorite was the sweetest, bluest blueberries offered by VanderHelm Farms. I confess when I tasted the freshness of the berries, I drooled just a bit. Being that I dusted off my basket of berries within the hour, I just may need to go to the VanderHelm Farm in Modesto before next week’s Farmers Market to pick a basket of blueberries for myself, as they allow visitors to do.

I’m sure glad I didn’t miss the Farmers Market this year. I plan to go back as often as I can throughout the summer because it just doesn’t get much better than perusing booths of ripe produce and more at Manteca Farmers Market.

Manteca’s Farmers Market will be held at Library Park every Tuesday from 4:30 to 8 p.m. through July. For more information call Manteca’s Chamber of Commerce at (209) 823.6121.