If you are a new student in Arcata, think of the Saturday Arcata Farmers’ Market as your reward for making it through a week of registration woes, getting lost on campus, and adjusting to new surroundings and classes. The market is a joyous place of community, food, music, food, friends and food and you are now a part of that community. Here are some suggestions for getting the best experience every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
Meet your friends for breakfast
Get in the habit of gathering old friends and new at a favorite place to share breakfast. It’s a wind-down from the week and a start to the market. This writer is partial to The Alibi’s famous breakfasts but Big Blue, T’s Cafe North or putting together a breakfast from the amazing variety of vendors on the Plaza are all good alternatives. It’s the sharing of food and friends that make it a great start to Saturday.
Get to know the farmers
All the farmers are listed on the market website so if you meet someone and can’t remember a name, look it up. Many of these folks have been selling at the market for years and have great tips for how to use their produce. Others are in their first year selling and want to get to know their customers. Farmers are great people to know to learn more about our beautiful county.
Bring your reusable bag
Sure, many booths offer plastic bags. But you can buy a great shopping bag at the info booth and even reusable produce bags. Be part of the zero waste effort, every week. Make it a habit to grab your bags when you come to market.
Get up and dance
There is live music every week and it includes some of the area’s finest bands. It’s a great introduction to local music so that you can pick and choose when you pay to go to other venues to see these same bands.
Dance space is small but dancing makes the bands happy so go for it! Music usually starts around 10:30 a.m. and the scheduled performers are listed on the market website. One special tradition is observed by The Bayou Swamis, a Cajun Rockabilly band. Every year, they dress in costume for the market closest to Halloween (Oct. 27) and lay out a Day of the Dead remembrance area around the bandstand for folks to bring flowers and photographs of loved ones who have passed on. It’s a sweet and wonderful day.
Park responsibly, intelligently & carefully
Parking in the Co-op parking lot is definitely bad karma. Parking right around the Plaza is limited so try further away and walk a bit. Watch out for the two-hour parking zones. (This writer just got one of those dreaded $40 tickets. Ouch! Learn from that mistake.) Better yet, use your free bus pass to come down to the Plaza or take a nice walk.
Sign up for CalFresh
Many students do not know that they might be eligible for CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps.) Not only does the market have a matching program ($10 for $10) but you can sign up for CalFresh at the market information booth at the corner across from Arcata Liquors.
Try something new
Be curious and try new fruits and vegetables. Some farmers (hooray for Fieldbrook Apples!) will give you samples. Right now there are some unusual melons and fruits. Buy things that you can snack on in your dorm or apartment – rainbow carrots make great carrot sticks and strawberries are fresh and full of vitamins as well as being oh so yummy.
A small group of hardworking volunteers, mostly students, have been keeping the zero waste effort going this summer. They could use your help. Just ask at the information booth.
For many of us the market is a highlight of living in the area. It’s a happy place. Take a seat on the lawn or one of the benches and watch the world go by. You could be in Paris or Rome but you’re in Arcata. Welcome!
Can’t go on Saturday?
There are two markets in Eureka and one in McKinleyville. Check the website for locations and times.