New farmers market a big success

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos inaugurated a brand new farmers market with a bumper crop of vendors May 13. The event exceeded its planners’ expectations, drawing 30 vendors instead of the anticipated 18 to the campus of Cal State San Marcos
The Cal State event marks the first time a farmers market has been tried in the city save for an abortive attempt at Restaurant Row several years ago. That market failed after disputes with restaurateurs who claimed the vendors were stealing business.
With the city virtually surrounded by farmlands in Fallbrook and Escondido, it was only a matter of time before the community tried again. The San Diego County Farm Bureau, a nonprofit organization which sponsors four other farmers markets, stepped forward to sponsor the event.
“We literally put a map up on the wall and put a pin where every market was in SD County,” Bureau Executive Director Eric Larson said. “It was crazy that San Marcos didn’t have one.”
They settled on Wednesday as there are only four farmers markets held on that day, and only one in North County.
Finding a location was the easy part. Cal State San Marcos eagerly invited the bureau to set up shop right on the campus’ front doorstep
in Parking Lot B, just off Twin Oaks Valley Road. Scott Gross, the university’s community engagement director, said it was a golden opportunity for the students and staff to interact with the local residents.
“We can get a little mysterious sometimes up on the hill and people don’t really know what’s here,” Gross said. “It seemed like a great partnership.”
In addition to offering farmers an additional outlet to sell their wares, the San Marcos market accepts food stamps — a feature unique to the five bureau-run venues.
“We’re proud of that,” Larson said. “We think farmers markets should serve the entire community, not a selected part of the community.
The planners and vendors of the new market were enthusiastic about the venture. Within the first hour of operation, vendors were selling more than they had in entire afternoons at other shows.
“We got a lot of foot traffic,” Luke Hahlbohm of Skywalker Organics said. “It’s actually bigger than I thought it would be.”
“Just based on today, we can tell it’s going to work out really well,” Larson said.
The San Marcos Farmers Market will be held every Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Parking Lot B at Cal State San Marcos.

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