Eastern Market Committee Votes For Weekday Farmers’ Line – New Market Expected To Be Operational By May
by Larry Janezich
Prodded by ANC6B Commissioner Brian Pate, the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) voted tonight to direct Market Manager Barry Margeson to establish a weekday farmer’s market. The unanimous vote came on a motion offered by Committee member Tom Kuchenberg.
The farmer’s line will be in accordance with the current law governing Eastern Market, which gives some of the weekend farmers and produce providers the right of first refusal on spaces. Margeson was further directed to seek out organic and local producers for the market in so far as spaces are available. The conventional wisdom is that there will be plenty of space to accommodate any organic or local producer who wishes to sell during the week.
Margeson has the flexibility to determine which day would work best, and has stated that Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday would work. David Fowler, a local farmer in tonight’s audience whose family has sold at the Market since 1873, noted that it will be June or July before local produce from this growing season will be available. Margeson has had expressions of interest from two produce providers, even before making any attempt to solicit produce vendors. He regularly has to turn away produce sellers seeking space on the weekends.
EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder stated flatly that she expects the new market to be in operation by the next meeting of EMCAC on May 2nd. She said the message of tonight’s action is “we want a weekday farmers’ market, we want it now, we want additional producers and growers in a weekday farmers’ line….in early May, we’ll walk down the street on a weekday and see farmers.”
The weekday farmer’s line has been discussed for ten years and for a few moments tonight, it appeared that the proposal would be referred to a committee for additional discussion. Pate pushed to have a vote tonight, saying he supported organic produce to help make the weekday market unique and to increase the quality of the produce, though he said he was ok with aggregators or those who retail but do not produce their own produce. EMCAC will review what essentially a pilot program is periodically and make adjustments as necessary.
In a related matter, a representative from Councilmember Tommy Wells’ office announced that Wells’ office was hoping to set a date tomorrow for a public hearing on the legislation to provide a new governing structure for Eastern Market. The legislation is being tweaked and is likely to be released in the next few days.