Thanks to the strong agriculutural and farming influence of the Central Coast, the farmers markets in Santa Cruz offer some of the best meat and produce you’ll find in the U.S..
Salinas is such an agricultural force that it’s referred to as “America’s Salad Bowl.” Nearby Watsonville is one of a handful of cities in America that have a claim to being the “strawberry capital of the world,” along with apples, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes and other crops produced there.
Other local claims to vegetable supremacy are less debatable. Gilroy is the garlic capital of the world, just as Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world. Both cities have annual multi-day festivals celebrating their respective crops; the Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival and the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
With proximity to places like these, it’s little wonder that Santa Cruz is home to so many great farmers markets. This guide will detail the local options, as well as explain a little about what you can expect at each one.
Along with farmers markets, Santa Cruz has several CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs), which you can find more information about at the bottom of this page.
The downtown Santa Cruz farmers market is both the largest and the longest running in the area. It’s also the one that most closely matches what you might expect of a farmers market in downtown: local vendors, live music, hot food, tasty pastries, flowers, citrus, berries, meat, bread, vegetables, and even a bike valet. (Parking can be scarce downtown during the hours of the farmers market so finding an alternative to driving can be helpful, if it’s an option.)
There’s also plenty to do in the area around the downtown market. Lupolo and 515 Kitchen and Cocktails, two local bars with a relaxed atmosphere, are just a crosswalk away, as is Hula’s, the Hawaiian themed bar & restaurant. The shops and restaurants of Pacific Avenue are easily accessible as well.
Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market
Cedar St. & Lincoln St., downtown Santa Cruz
1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (April through October)
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (November through March)
Eastside (Live Oak)
The Live Oak (or Eastside) farmers market offers a similar experience to the downtown market, though it is smaller. It also has local vendors, live music, hot food, flowers, and beverages. Food trucks and coffee are two things that stand out about the Live Oak market and it’s a great place to grab breakfast since it’s on Sunday mornings.
Eastside/Live Oak Farmers Market
21511 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Westside market is a community favorite and, unlike some of the others mentioned here, there is plenty of parking. It combines the cozy Sunday morning feel of the Live Oak market with the classic laid back feel of Westside Santa Cruz.
Westside Santa Cruz Farmers Market
2801 Mission St., Mission St. Extension & Western Dr., Santa Cruz
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Felton’s farmers market has been a local fixture for over 30 years and is one of the most family friendly. There’s plenty of activities for kids along with the standard farmers market fare.
Felton Farmers Market
St. John’s Church, 120 Russell Ave., Felton
Tuesdays (May through October)
2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Another family friendly option, the Scotts Valley market features regular musical guests, activities for kids, and several pop-up food vendors. Of course, you can also find produce, meat, dairy, flowers, nuts, and several artisans offering their uniquely local products. If you like strawberries and blueberries, this is one you won’t want to miss!
Scotts Valley Farmers Market
Community Center, 360 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley
Saturdays (May through November)
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Aptos market is held at Cabrillo College on Saturday mornings and is one of the better ones you’ll find outside the City of Santa Cruz. Seafood, poultry, and grass fed meat are the highlights of the Aptos market, but you’ll find plenty of fruits and vegetables too. A quick peek at the list of vendors for the Aptos Farmers Market provides a good overview of what they have available.
Aptos Farmers Market
Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Dr., Aptos
8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Watsonville is an area known for its produce and it’s on full display at the local market. It’s not a large farmers market, but the produce and experience are second-to-none, including the music and great street food they have available.
Watsonville Farmers Market
City Plaza, Peck St. & Main St., downtown Watsonville
2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden
While not a formal market in the sense of the others mentioned here, the UCSC Farm & Garden Cart does offer a pared down version of the same thing. You won’t find the Corralitos Market & Sausage Company here, but you can still buy flowers, fruits, and veggies that are grown locally on the campus farm.
UC Santa Cruz Farm & Market Garden Cart
Base of campus, Bay St. and High St., UC Santa Cruz
Fridays (June to October)
12 p.m. to 6 p.m
Seascape Village Certified Farmers Market
It may be one of the smaller and lesser known in the area, but the Seacliff Village market still has plenty to offer. It features artists, farmers, artisans and musicians from around the area and, along with the market at Cabrillo College, gives Aptos two great options to choose from.
Seascape Village Farmers Market
16 Seascape Village, in front of Seascape Foods, Aptos
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (mid-May through September)
Local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)
A CSA is a seasonal membership program in which you buy a share to support a local farm. In return, you receive a portion of the crops produced—in essence, you’re buying a variety of fresh produce from local farms that is delivered on a weekly or biweekly basis. You can learn more about Community Supported Agriculture by clicking here.
The following list includes some of the main CSAs in and around Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz Area CSAs