For a relatively small town, Santa Cruz and its surrounding areas have some outstanding farmers’ markets.
This is likely due to the abundance of farms nearby, and the local artisanal spirit.
Here’s a guide to seven weekly farmers’ markets in the area, as well as some of the most popular local vendors.
Aptos Farmers’ Market At Cabrillo College
Named one of the best coastal markets in Coastal Living Magazine, the Cabrillo market boasts over 90 vendors, ranging from artisan breads to sustainable fish to fresh vegetables.
Time: Saturdays, 8 am – noon
Location: 6500 Soqual Drive, Aptos
Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market
One of the busiest and most eclectic farmers markets in the area, the downtown market has a wide variety of food stands where you can buy scrumptious plates made with the best ingredients, in addition to the usual produce stands.
Time: Wednesdays, 2:30pm-6:30pm
Location: Lincoln and Cedar Streets.
Live Oak Farmers’ Market
What’s better than a Sunday morning spent strolling through dozens of produce stands, a sticky bun from Beckmann’s bakery in hand, while a guitar is strummed in the background? Even better, this market allows dogs — just be sure to keep them away from all the human treats!
Time: Sundays, 9am-1pm
Location: East Cliff Shopping Center at 15th and East Cliff Drive
Westside Farmers’ Market
Wine, coffee from Lulu Carpenter’s, and occasional events like wood fire oven-cooked pop-up breakfasts set this market apart, and the scores of free parking spaces make it all the more enticing.
Time: Saturdays, 9am-1pm
Location: Western Drive and Missions Street
Scotts Valley Farmers’ Market
A shaded cafe seating area, fresh and cook-to-order food, and a kid-friendly atmoshpere make this market the perfect place for the Scotts Valley community to come together.
Time: Saturdays, 9am-1pm, April-October
Location: 360 Kings Village Drive, Scotts Valley Community Center
Capitola Mall Farmers’ Market
Opened just a year ago, the Capitola Farmers’ Market brings fresh life to an unexpected environment — the mall. Next time you need to buys jeans, you might end up with some organic mixed greens as well.
Time: Thursdays, 3:30pm-7:00 pm, May through November.
Location: Capitola Mall
Felton Farmers’ Market
Perhaps the biggest draw to this market is the family focus. Parents can drop off their little ones at a space in the center that features face painting, drawing, and other craft projects. And with Halloween always seemingly just around the corner, keep an eye out for the pumpkin decorating bonanza.
Time: Tuesdays, 2:30pm-6:30pm, May through October
Location: 120 Russell Ave, Felton
Each farmers’ market in the area has something special to offer, but one thing they all share is an abundance of fresh, local, delicious food for sale.
Here are some of the most popular vendors to look out for.
Dirty Girl Produce
With a produce list that reads like the makings of one huge, Platonic-ideal kind of salad, Dirty Girl is known for friendly farmers’ market employees and fruits and veggies to match. They also have pretty cool hats and tee shirts for sale.
Happy Boy Farms
Sishito peppers, watermelon radishes, crenshaw melons — this is not your typical farm. Located just outside Watsonville, Happy Boy has several different fields, each with their own type of soil, making it possible for them to grow a variety of quality fruits and veggies. And they’ve been going to farmers markets for over a decade, so they know how to bring you the best, most juicy, crisp, colorful products.
Swanton Berry Farm
Along with the bragging rights of being the first organic strawberry grower in California, Swanton Berry Farm has a lot going for it, including flavor. Since opening, they’ve expanded to blackberries, olallieberries, loganberries, kiwis, and vegetables, as well as jams, pies, et cetera. In addition to enjoying their offerings at the farmers markets, you can also drive just a little ways up Highway 1 to see, taste, and even pick it all at the source.
You’ve probably heard of a baker’s dozen, which counts out to thirteen. But have you ever had a Beckmann’s dozen of fourteen cookies? That’s just the beginning of a long list of reasons to always include Beckmann’s in your Sunday Live Oak Farmers’ Market run — a list that also includes jalapeno cheddar bread, the stickiest sticky buns, and olallieberry pie.
El Salchichero — or “the cheech,” as a few loving locals have been known to call it — is bringing butchery back. Smoked beer sausages, bacon burger patties, and prosciutto are just a few things you might find in their ice chest come farmers’ market day. Making it all even tastier is the fact that all their products are local and ethical.