Farmers’ Market opens Tuesday

farmers-market-420x278It’s an all-natural, sustainable, outdoor shopping mall, a social gathering garnished with fresh produce, picnics and play dates. In short, just another Tuesday night in Sonoma.

The Tuesday night Farmers’ Market returns to Sonoma Plaza on May 6 at 5:30 p.m. Some 60 farmers and vendors have been selected this season, offering a variety of produce, prepared foods and crafts.

One change from year’s past is the placement of the music stage. It will be on the City Hall end of the lawn and face out to Napa Street, said producer Oscar Mooneyhan, to provide more room for patrons to picnic and dance and enjoy the evening festivities. Opening night will feature the Jami Jamison Band.

In addition to the market entertainment, there will be jazz in the Grinstead Amphitheater on the second Tuesday of June, July, August and September, presented by the Sonoma Valley Jazz Society.

This year market’s is the fourth year of operation by the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers’ Market (VOMCFM), which has been running the market since the city awarded it the contract in 2011.

“This year we expect it to be better than ever!” expects VOMCFM Board President Bill Dardon, who promises a few surprises along the way.

Also new to the market is a “Shop and Donate” program to benefit local schools. Market patrons will be able to purchase “Market Dollars” from the Market Manager’s table, with a percentage of all sales going to benefit local participating schools.

Opening night at the Market will feature a special ribbon-cutting ceremony with invited city officials. The 2014 Tuesday Night Market continues every week through October 28.

Market scholarships

The Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers’ Market is again also sponsoring scholarships for local high school students. In 2012 and 2013, almost $5,000 was awarded annually to students and youth-oriented organizations studying or relating to farming, horticulture, viticulture or the culinary arts. The deadline to apply is May 9.

“We’re hoping to award more scholarships to deserving students,” Mark Curtis, market board vice president, “to see a direct impact on some Sonoma Valley individuals who might benefit from some extra college money.”

Applicants must be high school students who reside in the Sonoma Valley and are enrolled in a Sonoma-area high school or equivalent program, Students can find the simple application online at the VOMCFM website, Scholarships will be formally presented at a special ceremony at the market in late May.

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