By DENNIS WYATT
Finding fresh produce isn’t hard in the 209.
That’s a given considering the San Joaquin Valley produces nearly half of this nation’s domestically grown fruits, vegetables and nuts according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Essentially no one else in this country — or perhaps the world — has access to such a variety of locally grown farm fresh produce.
Besides seasonal and year round produce stands dotting country roads as well as major highways such as East Highway 120 between Manteca and Escalon where you will find a half dozen farm vendors, virtually every community has a farmers market.
Many — like the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s Market & Music in the Park — that returns Tuesday, May 23, for a summer run at Library Park in downtown — feature free entertainment as well.
And if you want a change of scenery, the farmers markets just over the hill in Pleasanton and Livermore can be a pleasant diversion.
For example, if you want a half day excursion, the market Saturday morning in Pleasanton may be the perfect destination. It literally livens up Pleasanton’s downtown thanks to it being one of the largest around and the fact it is within a block are restaurants with large expansive outdoor seating under stately trees as well as nearby specialty shops.
A quick rundown of 17 farmers markets are as follows:
MANTECA: The Manteca farmers market is from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through July 25 at Library Park in down Manteca. From Highway 99, take the Yosemite Avenue exist and travel east to Manteca Avenue just before the railroad tracks.
CERES: The Ceres farmers market takes place at Whitmore Part at Second and North Streets from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in June and July . From Highway 99 take the Whitmore exit and head east to Second Street and turn right.
WEST MODESTO: The West Modesto King Kennedy Neighborhood Collaborative Farmers Market is 3 to 7 p.m. at Mellis Park, 601 S. Martin Luther King Drive.
OAKDALE: The Oakdale market started on Wednesday night, May 10. It runs Wednesday nights, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on North Third Avenue, between E and F streets. Running each Wednesday now through Sept. 28. Live music, food booths, fruits and vegetables, shops along North Third are open late. Appearances by pet rescues with adoptable pets will be offered with additional special activities to be announced.
MODESTO: The Modesto farmers market is from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Nov. 20 alongside the Stanislaus County Library on 16th Street between H and I streets in downtown Modesto. From Manteca take Highway 99 south using Exit 226A for Central Modesto and merge (go straight) onto 5th Street. The turn left on I Street and it will take you to the market. It should take 26 minutes to go 18 miles. It should take 13 minutes to cover the 12 miles.
LIVERMORE: The Livermore farmers market is from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at Carnegie Park at Third & J Streets in downtown Livermore. From Manteca take Interstate 205 which turns into Interstate 580 to Exit 52B for N. Livermore Ave. and then turn left on Livermore Avenue. Turn right on Second Street to reach the market. It should take 40 minutes to cover the 35 miles.
TURLOCK: The Central Park Evening Market in downtown Turlock at the corner of East Main Street and Golden State Boulevard runs from 5 to 8 p.m. through the end of September.
STOCKTON: Weberstown Mall farmers market is open every Sunday through Nov. 16 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Claremont and Yokuts Ave.
RIVERBANK: Riverbank Farmers Market runs Friday nights, June 2 through July 28, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Riverbank Community Center Park, 3600 Santa Fe (No market June 30).
Live music, food, fresh fruits and vegetables, movies shown after dark on June 2, 9 and 16; July 7, 14 and 28. Special event nights to include a classic car show, kids safety night/bike rodeo, wine tasting.
TURLOCK: The Turlock certified farmers’ market is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 14 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds on Broadway. From Manteca take Highway 99 south to Fulkreth Road and head east.
TRACY: The Saturday Tracy farmers market is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 10th Street between Central and B Street through Nov. 18. The quickest way from Manteca is to take Interstate 205 to the Tracy Boulevard exit and turn left. Take Tracy Boulevard to 11th Street and then turn left. Next turn right on B Street and then take first left to 10th Street. It should take 23 minutes to cover the 13.9 miles
MODESTO: The Modesto farmers market is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. alongside the Stanislaus County Library on 16th Street between H and I streets in downtown Modesto. From Manteca take Highway 99 south using Exit 226A for Central Modesto and merge (go straight) onto 5th Street. The turn left on I Street and it will take you to the market. It should take 26 minutes to go 18 miles
STOCKTON: The Stockton farmers market is from 5:30 to 11 a.m. under the Cross-town Freeway between El Dorado and San Joaquin streets across from St. Mary’s Catholic Church and is open year round. The quickest way from Manteca is to take Highway 99 north to the Cross-town Freeway (Highway 4 West). Take Exit 66B form Stanislaus Street but go straight and merge into Washington Street. The destination is on your right. Turn left at the second cross street to reach East Main. It should take 20 minutes to go 14 miles.
PLEASANTON: The Pleasanton farmers market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Main and W. Angela Street in downtown Pleasanton year round. From Manteca take Interstate 205 which turns into Interstate 580 to Exit 47 for Tassajara Road toward Santa Rita Road. Turn left onto Tassajara Road and continue onto Santa Rita Road which turns into Main Street. Then turn left onto W. Angela Road. It should take 48 minutes to go 42 miles.
LIVERMORE: The Livermore farmers market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Historic Train Deport at Railroad Avenue and L Street in downtown Livermore is open year round. From Manteca take Interstate 205 which turns into Interstate 580 to Springtown Boulevard/First Street and keep left at the fork and follow signs for First Street/Downtown Livermore Avenue. Turn right on First Street and then right on Railroad Avenue to reach the market. It should take 40 minutes to cover the 35 miles.
STOCKTON: The Park West Place farmers market is open every Sunday through Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Park West Shopping Center in front of Lowe’s. From Manteca take the 120 Bypass and head north on Interstate 5 to the Eight Mile Road exit. Turn left and travel to Trinity Parkway where you will turn left. The market is in front of the Lowe’s garden center.
STOCKTON: Weberstown Mall farmers market is open every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Claremont and Yokuts Ave.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail email@example.com