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Summer means plenty of nearby farmers markets
CVB STAND1-4-19-10
Ruby Morales adjusts an artichoke display at Jacob’s Produce on East Highway 120 on the edge of Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• TUESDAY: Manteca
• THURSDAY: Ripon, Modesto, Lodi, Stockton
• SATURDAY: Stockton, Pleasanton, Modesto, Tracy
• SUNDAY: Stockton

As soon as the weather warms up, the signs in local grocery stores start advertising local fruit.

Stockton asparagus. Linden cherries. Manteca watermelon.

But while agriculture has always been dominated by growing seasons, Central Valley residents only have to go as far as 45 minutes in just about any direction to make sure that the produce that they’re putting in their favorite dishes and on their table is grown locally on family farms.

Or, if you prefer, you can access one of a half dozen fruit stands from the outskirts of Manteca on East Highway 120 all the way to Escalon and day of the week.

On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of people flood the street along Manteca’s Library Park to get their hands on everything from oversized green beans to early season peaches – pausing to take in the bright red strawberries, the colorful bouquets of flowers and the additional wares being peddled by the dozen vendors who gave the event its strongest start in years.

And Manteca definitely isn’t alone in offering up weekly fresh produce from local family farms.

Ripon’s farmers market is Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Ripon.

Modesto’s farmers market runs Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is located on 16th Street between H Street and I Street  alongside the Stanislaus County Library in downtown Modesto.

The farmers market in Tracy runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 10th Street and Central Avenue in downtown Tracy on Saturdays.

For more than 31 years, Stockton has always provided its residents with a true farmer’s market – at times changing locations in order to better suit the growing community.

A year-round market starts every Saturday at 6:30 a.m. under the cross-town freeway at San Joaquin and El Dorado Streets to provide whatever happens to be the most popular item or the easiest to grow given the sometimes temperamental weather in Northern California.
Those looking for an outdoor stroll can head out to the Park West Shopping Center on Trinity Parkway off of Eight Mile Road from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays. The season runs from May to October, and constantly draws residents from surrounding areas looking to stock their kitchen with the freshest fruit available.

“I know that I can go to the grocery store and get something good, but when I go to the farmer’s market, there is no middleman – you’re buying directly from the grower, and they can answer all of the questions and give you all of the tips,” said Stockton resident Nancy Zagorsk, who visits on Thursday mornings to get her respective goods. “It brings a real community feel while at the same time giving us access to local healthy food.”

In Lodi, the city closes off School Street to allow for vendors to have unabridged access to the hoards of community-minded residents that enjoy the quaint stroll through the unique downtown while browsing for that perfect basket of strawberries or red ripe cherries.

“It’s one of those things that really brings the community together, and you don’t find that very many places,” said Susan Engel – who was planning on heading down to the year’s first event on Thursday, June 3. “It’s hard to walk away disappointed.”

Much like Stockton, Pleasanton also opts for a year-round event every Saturday at the corner of Main and W. Angela Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – taking advantage of the temperate weather in the Tri-Valley area with an orchestrated event that’s part of the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association.

“It’s a nice thing to have, but the one that we have here is nice as well – we’ve got the farms just down the street and around the corner,” said former Pleasanton resident Paul Westfall. “I look forward to Tuesdays here in Manteca – it’s the best place to buy your fruits and vegetables.”