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Applegate Evening Market is a beautiful thing

What better way to embrace a warm, summer evening than with a drive to the country?

The sun is setting a mite earlier each day, and the waning-day breezes generally come up to usher out the heat. A drive out Highway 238 toward the scenic Applegate Valley is just the ticket to smooth your forehead wrinkles and soothe midweek jitters.

While you’re driving, look for the blue signs along the way that mark the wineries out yonder. Enjoy their peaceful views, and wind up the evening at a sweet little community farmers market.

This Wednesday, we sailed out to the Applegate Evening Market at Electric Gardens Flower Farm at 8035 Highway 238. It’s open from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday through October.

My first impression was that it took me back to a comfy hippie vibe. Well, maybe I wasn’t a full-fledged hippie, but I’ve always had flower-child tendencies. I still love patchouli, locally grown organic food, country life and peace.

I think flowers are destined for my hair again after hearing the Cowsills sing “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” at Britt. Growing up doesn’t mean growing old mentally. The childlike soul abides, I’m happy to say.

Anyway, there were a number of quality local farmers and a few crafters. I wish I would have brought more cash, as some vendors are not equipped for plastic.

The couple at Twisted and Tied, who sell tie-died clothing for all ages (you knew it), fund a nonprofit that buys toys for underprivileged children.

A wide variety of healthy, locally sourced food is available: honey from Applegate Apiaries, delectably sweet strawberries and plums from Reyes Strawberries. Miracle Mushrooms offered some of the loveliest and grandest shrooms I’ve seen. No, not that kind.

Salant Family Ranch raises natural, grass-fed beef. We met a woman selling flash-frozen salmon, lingcod and rockfish for Callistini Fisheries who said she “loves being on the boat, just my dad and me.”

One vendor offered samples of his homemade hot sauces. Another tempted us with free tastings of freshly churned nut butters. I’ll be back for the walnut. In fact, we plan to return for several things: the fresh pesto we saw, Ayurvedic loose leaf teas and cacao powder, and more of those sugar lump strawberries while they last.

Fresh goat milk, meat and eggs are on hand from Rogue Artisan Foods located in the Applegate Valley. We stopped to listen to some fine music by a Jamaican gentleman with Fiyah (fire) in his name.

As tummies rumbled, we took advantage of a couple of the food stands. I dined on yummy jerk chicken with black beans and rice from Siano’s Karribean Cuisine, and Lane scarfed a Greek pizza from Beyond Pizza, which uses an amazing portable Forno Bravo Italian firebrick oven. We saw, but did not give way, this time, to peach pie at Brookie’s Cookies and Lemonade stand, but I did purchase fresh peaches from her.

I enjoyed some conversation with John, who looked like a Jake to me, so that’s what I called him. You gotta love a guy who wears a fedora while typing poems and stories on a vintage Olivetti. Of course, I bought one of his booklets of short stories.

Writers supporting writers is a beautiful thing, and he invited me into their collective enclave. I may rattle off a short story under a pseudonym.

Each week showcases a different band or musician for your added shopping pleasure. A shaded deck-top beer garden sets up a prime vantage point for people-watching. They normally carry wine but not when we visited. Picnic benches also are shaded.

There’s something purely satisfying about buying goods directly from the person who made or grew them. Ease your way out to where farmers are doing their best to tend the land, tend to business in responsible way and bring healthful products to us, into the bargain.

Neighbors helping neighbors is a beautiful thing. Support local merchants.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.