17. Bike to Monterey County Farmers Markets

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Above: June 4, 2021 scene from the market Del Monte Shopping Center, Monterey—

with mask and social distancing protocols, in response to COVID-19 pandemic.

Below: A gentleman from Aptos enjoying the Old Monterey market on Alvarado Street.

Elliott from Aptos at Farmers Mkt MRY

You’ve struck green!

When it comes to fresh, locally grown food, we’re incredibly fortunate in Monterey County.  We have an abundance of fresh produce year-round!

And local farmers markets are bursting at the seams in peak season, from approximately May to November.

Where are they?  Refer to the “Market locations” subheading below.

When shopping, keep in mind the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 update about the fruits and vegetables most important to eat organic—among those, kale, strawberries, spinach, and more. See the Dirty Dozen at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php 

We’re fortunate here that much of the produce at our markets is also organically grown.

Organic growers

See Bicycling Monterey’s “Have you hugged an organic grower today?” (click here).

How can you know if something is really organically grown?  Look for the signs that indicate organic certification by CCOF or other USDA accredited certifying agents in the USDA National Organic Program. (Here is the USDA’s list of accredited domestic organic certifiers.)  For more info, see this fact sheet on understanding organic, which describes the various types of labeling.

Market locations

Salinas Valley is known as the Salad Bowl of America/the World. And throughout Monterey County, you will find a tantalizing farmers markets in one of our local communities most days of the week. Locations include the Alisal/East Salinas, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Castroville, Greenfield, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Seaside, Soledad, and more. For days and times, check the markets’ websites. Also be aware that occasionally website times for the various farmers markets have not reflected seasonal changes (e.g., the Old Monterey farmers market hours are usually 4-7 p.m. October through April, and 4-8 p.m. May through September). When in doubt, rather than assume the most current info is on their websites, give their contact number a call.

Monterey County Farm Bureau’s list of farmers markets
List on the Farm Bureau website as of June 17, 2021: http://montereycfb.com/index.php?page=farmers-markets

Below, our earlier summary regarding locations (which may be outdated—check with the organizers):

Jameson Bryan, walking his bike through the bustling Old Monterey Farmers Market  stopped to chat with Ken Morrow at  his  organic walnuts and apricots stand.

Bring your own bags

Note the reusable bag ordinances for local communities and please BYOBags. In Monterey County—thanks in part to the plastic pollution leadership of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and others—single-use plastic passed out of favor, and reusable bags are becoming the norm. The county’s health department provides FAQs hereMonterey County passed plastic bag regulations. Update: In November 2016, California state voters also said: single-use, carry-out plastic bags just don’t make sense (see “Nation’s first statewide plastic bag ban” in the San Diego Tribune, a ban urged by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and so many others. See on the Aquarium’s blog, “Why plastic bag recycling isn’t enough.”

How to store produce without plastic

Thanks to Ecology Center of Berkeley, CA for their Sustainable Living fact sheet, in printable PDF format: “How to store fruits and vegetables without plastic.”  (If you cannot download a PDF, read Washington’s Green Grocer story, “How to store vegetables and fruit without plastic.”) Special thanks to Monterey Bay Certified Green Business Passionfish of Pacific Grove for this resource.

Who bikes to a farmers market?

Annabelle Bull’s bike basket was full of fresh produce

when she caught my eye at the MPC farmers market in August 2010.  She had biked to that market to pick up ingredients for pickle-making. Here she is on another August day at MPC, biking off to do her family’s marketing again!  Annabelle, a Brit who now resides in Monterey County, clearly hasn’t given up the joys of cycling as she grew up; see Bicycle Culture and Youth for more about that.  (Photo of Annabelle courtesy of Joanna Bull.)

Thank you, field workers

Only because of the labor of individuals, like those pictured below, does fresh produce get from the fields to the farmers markets and other outlets.

Beyond fresh produce

Not only are farmers markets the best place to buy fresh local produce, at many markets you will find other local foods, too (e.g., seafood, honey), along with prepared food booths, crafts, and street musicians!  These are a fun cycling destination and a great way to mix with the local community.

Try a bite!

And as you meander along the aisles, you are often invited to sample the yummy produce and other offerings.

The vendors are friendly and helpful.  Especially in the less hectic periods, many are happy to take time to offer tips on storage, meal preparation, and more.


If you’ve tried to find vehicle parking on farmers market days here and have been frustrated, you know one great reason to bicycle to the market:  much easier parking.  See “How to do it by bike” below for tips!

A healthy hang-out spot

Farmers markets are truly bursting with life.  They are a great place to hang out with old friends, or make new ones.

Pals Sidney Ramsden-Scott and Jacquelyn Smith meetup with young Sierra Dehmler at the Monterey Peninsula College (MPC)  market.

Laurie and Tom Coke’s popularity is partly due to their delicious, organically grown produce, and partly due to their kind, calm, caring manner.

How to do it by bike

Parking your bike:

  • Once you arrive at a farmers market, because of heavy pedestrian traffic at these popular weekly events, it’s usually best to lock up your bike and walk the aisles without it.  In some cases, where there isn’t heavy pedestrian traffic, it may be fine to walk your bike through the market instead.  Common sense will tell you which is the case.
  • Bike through?  Biking through these markets is usually not recommended, and in most cases, it isn’t allowed.
  • For over five years, free bike valet parking had been provided at Old Monterey’s Tuesday Farmers Market on Alvarado Street. As of 4/13/18, it was no longer available; check with Green Pedal Couriers for any possible updates: http://greenpedal831.com

Bring a day pack to carry purchases.  If you have a large household to shop for, consider a  trailer, cargo bike, or various other options to haul your food home.  Ask for suggestions at Monterey County bike shops.

Be mindful of the safety factors that come into play when carrying even a little cargo, or something as simple as a purse; see “Personal Safety” and “Shopping” sections of this guide.

A solution that I’ve used for a big shopping (or to avoid heavy items, e.g., melons, squashing delicate items like berries and tomatoes) is to park on the outskirts of the shopping district, then bike over to get what I need with my little daypack, returning to the car to unload as needed.  This is an example of how bike-and-ride can be so practical.

Yet another option, of course, is to do your marketing on more than one day a week—as is so commonly the practice in many European and other countries.  With our multiple farmers markets in Monterey County, that’s definitely a viable alternative.

Kristin Meagher on the bikeways near Wharf II.

That’s a short bike ride from the Alvarado Street Tuesday market and the MPC Thursday market.

Kristin’s all set for a farmers market stop–that daypack can hold a nice stash of yummy Central Coast produce.

Bon appetit!

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Bike-and-ride–for daytime or dark

Here’s a reminder of  why farmers marketing–or any shopping–can often benefit from bike-and-ride options.

Living in a rural area requires biking isolated roads, so returning home at night by bike isn’t appealing.  That’s another time when bike-and-ride can be great.  And in my area of the county, there is no evening bus service, so a bike rack on the car is an especially helpful bike-and-ride solution!  

Just park the car at the edge of town and bike all over to do errands.  Then bike back to the car, load up bike and stuff, and get home comfortably in the dark by car.

Prefer to bike in the dark? Sometimes I do too! See tips for night riding.

Rx for shopping by bike

Here’s one easy bike-and-ride Rx and

a great reason to purchase a bike rack for your car:

  1. Park where parking is easy, such as on the outskirts of a busy farmers market neighborhood.
  2. Bike nearer to the congested shopping area, with a daypack or cargo pouch, etc.
  3. Lock up your bike, and walk the market aisles.
  4. Bike back to your car to drop things off.
  5. Repeat as needed.
  6. Smile! You got to market without any parking hassles today.