Farmers Market Valentines

Brie Mazurek, CUESA Staff
February 14, 2014

The farmers market is a weekly love fest of delicious local food, so it makes sense that friendships and flirtations in our community also flourish. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’ve collected a few stories about romances that have blossomed in the market. After all, good food is the way to anyone’s heart. Bon appétit!

Great Catch: Cap’n Mike and Sally Hiebert (Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoke)

Sally: I moved to Mill Valley from New York in 1989 with another fella. I found the farmers market in Marin the week I got here. This fella and I were going backpacking in the Grand Canyon, and I bought all kinds of smoked fish from the market, in particular several packages of salmon jerky. Mysteriously to me at the time, I spent the entire next 3½ weeks thinking about the Salmon Dude at the farmers market. I felt like the salmon jerky was saving my life every day.

A month or two later, I split up with the other guy—a good thing. I thought about the Salmon Dude but I figured he was so awesome, he must be married with 37 kids. Still I went to the market often, just to say hi. And he would take my hand in his two big ole hands and say, “How are you today?” That went on for almost nine months.

Then on the Sunday before Valentine’s Day he asked me out for a kayak ride. The night before our big first date I was with my sister and my little nephew, who kept clinging to me and wanting me to pay attention ONLY to him. And my sister said, “That’s right. Toby, you spend a lot of good time with your Aunt Sal because after tomorrow she’s not going to be single anymore.” She just came up with that.  The next day I drove from Mill Valley to the end of the earth in Bodega Bay, crying the whole way because I felt gloriously like I was leaving my old life and starting my new one. Three weeks later I moved to Bodega Bay with him, and that was that. All true.

Funny Honeys: Sam Hemingway and Tiffany Lee

Tiffany: I had just gotten out of a relationship and left my job to make a career change. It was a stressful time in my life, but the one place where I always felt happy was at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, so I decided to start volunteering for CUESA. For me, the best part was meeting the sellers. One day, I ran into Sam, who I had met once before through a mutual friend. I had thought he was hilarious because he had just come from the market and was dipping green garlic into a jar of honey and eating it.

When I met him again, he was working at Scream Sorbet, and later Saint Benoît Creamery. He introduced me to his friend Adam from Hodo Soy, and the three of us became really good friends. After my volunteer shift, I would hang out with them, and they would feed me. Adam would make comments here and there letting me know that Sam was a great guy, and I would just ignore them because I wasn’t looking for a relationship at the time. Then I had a moment one day when I realized I liked Sam. We had all these similar interests—obviously, food! He introduced me to another side of the market, and even now, we’re always shopping or cooking together.

Heart Beet: Melissa Craven and Michael Hamm

Melissa: I started working for Star Route Farms in May 2008, and Michael started working at Blue Bottle Coffee in August. I was always the coffee person for Star Route, so every morning I got coffee for everyone who worked at the stand. Right away, I noticed, “Who’s the new guy?” I would see him every Saturday, and we would talk in the morning. Then later in the day I would go get more coffee, so I would talk to him again. We talked about working at the farmers market, and all the good food. Months later, he asked me if I wanted to hang out. He said, “Why don’t you come over to my house and I’ll make you dinner?” It was quickly pretty clear that it was a date. I can remember the dinner he made for me had Fatted Calf sausage and Star Route beets. We fell for each other pretty fast. Working at the farmers market, it’s easy to make friends with people quickly. You’re up early and working long, hard days together, which helps people bond. You’re united, with all this great food and great people around you.

Slow Jams: Casey Havre and John Lagier (Lagier Ranches)

Casey: John and I met at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Christmas Eve in 2004. I was selling my Loulou’s Garden preserves, and John was right next to me. He offered me a pie. We found out that we lived not too far from each other. Then we met again at the Sunday market in the spring. John started growing cornichons for me to pickle and sell. I would drive down from the hills to buy cherries from him to make jam. We started dating, and the rest was history. We now collaborate on food and growing, and Loulou’s Garden is a part of Lagier Ranches. Everything is done together. I never would have met him if hadn’t been for the farmers market.

Blue Bottle Buddies: Tim Lundeen and Alexandra Gatsis

Alexandra: I had been going to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for about a year every Saturday morning. It was my ritual, like going to church. I did it without fail. Part of the ritual involved first going to Blue Bottle Coffee. As you know, the lines are very long, so it was an opportunity to meet people. That’s where I met Tim. Tim had a red farmers market bag, and I had the same exact bag. One day, we happened to be standing in line next to each other, and I accidentally took his bag and he took mine. We talked and I discovered that he had the same ritual I did. We’d both get to the market early and would always end up meeting and having conversations while we were standing in line. After five months or so, he asked me out, and then we became partners in our farmers market shopping. We had gotten to know our farmers, so when we became a couple, it made sense in the context of the market community. It became a second home for us.

Cap’n Mike and Sally Hiebert photo by Gary Yost photography.

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