What better way to enjoy a warm summer evening than a drive through the countryside?

The sun sets a little earlier each day and the waning daytime breezes usually come up to blow the heat out. A drive down Highway 238 to scenic Applegate Valley is just the ticket to smooth the wrinkles from your forehead and soothe midweek jitters.

As you drive, look for the blue signs along the way that mark the vineyards there. Enjoy their peaceful views and end the evening at a charming little community farmers market.

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

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

I think flowers are meant for my hair again after hearing the Cowsills sing “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” to Britt. Growing up does not mean getting old mentally. The childish soul remains, I’m happy to say.

Anyway, there were a number of quality local farmers and some artisans. I would have liked to bring more cash, as some vendors are not equipped for plastic.

The Twisted and Tied couple, who sell clothes for all ages (did you know that), fund a nonprofit that buys toys for underprivileged children.

A wide variety of healthy, locally sourced foods are available: honey from Applegate Apiaries, deliciously sweet strawberries and plums from Reyes Strawberries. Miracle Mushrooms offered some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring mushrooms I have seen. No, not that kind.

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

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

Fresh goat’s milk, meat and eggs are available at Rogue Artisan Foods located in the Applegate Valley. We stopped for some great music from a Jamaican gentleman with Fiyah (fire) in his name.

As stomachs rumbled, we took advantage of a few food stalls. I dined on delicious jerk chicken with black beans and rice from Siano’s Karribean Cuisine, and Lane scuffed up a Greek pizza from Beyond Pizza, which uses an incredible portable Italian Forno Bravo firebrick oven. We saw, but didn’t give in, this time to the peach pie at Brookie’s Cookies and Lemonade stand, but I bought fresh peaches from her.

I enjoyed a chat with John, who sounded 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 short story booklets.

Writers supporting writers is a beautiful thing, and it invited me into their collective enclave. I can debit a news under a pseudonym.

Each week features a different band or musician for your shopping pleasure. A shaded beer garden on the deck provides a great vantage point for people-watching. They normally carry wine but not on our visit. Picnic benches are also shaded.

There’s something purely satisfying about buying goods directly from the person who crafted or farmed them. Go easily to where farmers are doing their best to care for the land, do business responsibly and bring us healthy produce, and more.

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

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/writer. Contact her at [email protected]