Despite its place as a hub for sustainable farming in San Mateo County and the Bay Area, Pescadero and the South Coast had yet to host their own farmer's market — until now.
Today, the Pescadero Grown! Certified Farmer's Market will open for the first time, featuring local growers.
"There has been talk about starting a farmer's market in Pescadero for many years but many people didn’t feel that they could take a risk to start a market," said Kerry Lobel, Executive Director of Puente, a Pescadero-based nonprofit organization that provides services for low income communities and farmworker families of the South Coast. "They feared that the South Coast might not have enough customers to sustain a market," she said.
The plan was to get it off the ground next year, Lobel said. "But the lettuce, kale, and strawberries were flowing. The farmers and producers said that they wanted a Farmer's Market close to home," she said.
"Our permits came together quickly," Lobel said.
Tapping into the expertise of founder Erin Tormey, who established markets in Half Moon Bay and Pacifica, Lobel and her organization set up the market in an effort to provide South Coast low-income residents — many of them farmworkers — with access to fresh and nutritious food.
"Ironically, the local farmworkers don't have access to healthy foods because many work on farms that just produce one product over the summer," said Doniga Markegard, one of the market vendors who runs Markegard Family Grass-Fed with her husband.
Add this to the dynamic that no market on the South Coast currently accepts Women, Infant and Children (WIC) assistance food vouchers or food stamps, according to Lobel, and Pescadero Grown! appears poised to fill a geographical void.
Some of the vendors already participate in a program where they donate produce to Puente, such as Blue House Farm and Echo Valley Farm.
"I'm offering some of my food as a donation to Puente or at a reduced price for them to distribute," said Markegard. "If there's something I have a lot of at the end of the farmer's market, I'll give it to Puente," she added.
Lobel said that Puente is running the market as a way to strengthen the local economy.
"We wanted to create a program that would marry food, farmers and farmworkers in such a way that both the residents of the South Coast and the businesses here could be more sustainable," she said.
The following farms will be selling at the market:
Del Sur Farm
Echo Valley Farm
Fly Girl Farm
La Honda Elementary School Garden (starting 7/21)
Markegard Family Grass-Fed (beef) - first Thursdays of month
Left Coast GrassFed (beef) - third Thursdays of month
"It's great that a farmer's market is finally coming to Pescadero," said Kathy Webster, part of the cattle management team at Left Coast Grass Fed.
Despite Webster's enthusiasm, she's still waiting to see if the market will bring in a good number of customers.
"We won't really know until we're there if we can justify the manpower needed to man farmer's markets, which is expensive," she added.
"I really think that this could be a new model for farmer's markets basing it out of a nonprofit. It can help to create some social equity in our food system," Markegard said.
The Pescadero Grown! Farmer's Market will run every Thursday until November from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. at Pescadero School, 620 North Street, Pescadero. Andy Markham will play live music.