On Thursday evenings, Pescadero residents can greet the people who grow the food they buy face-to-face at the local farmers market. It’s an investment in healthy food and in an industry vital to the Coastside.
From 3 to 7 p.m. on July 4 Pescadero Grown opens its next season. It will open at the same time every Thursday through the season. And that wasn’t assured earlier this year.
The South Coast social service organization Puente founded Pescadero Grown and operated it for eight seasons, but it decided to step back this year. But Mathieu Simms, of Simms Organic, Max Cohen with Puente, along with a group of local farmers and organizations, are ensuring the market continues. Under the Pescadero Foundation and Simms’ leadership, the market is opening where the Pescadero Country Store once stood.
“It serves as community glue,” said Lynne Bowman, president of the Pescadero Foundation. “It’s a meeting place. It’s healthy food. It’s reasonably priced food.”
Before the Pescadero Country Store, often called “Cindy’s,” burned down three years ago, the market was held in the yard outside the store. People would wander through the vendors’ stands and into the store to buy a pizza or a hamburger made with Leftcoast Grassfed beef.
When the store burned down, only one grocery store remained in town. The farmers market is now one of the few ways Pescadero residents can buy food from the farms.
“We really need this market,” said Kathy Webster, food advocacy manager with TomKat Ranch. “It’s one of the few centrally located places for our community to have access to healthy, locally grown food so that all our residents can afford it.”
Simms partnered with the Pescadero Foundation to receive the certification for the market. They also received donations from Puente and the Peninsula Open Space Trust.
“POST has been supporting the farmers market ... both for its importance to the farming community as an income revenue opportunity for them and for the local community to have access to the wonderful food we have right here in our backyard,” said POST’s Farmland Program Manager Ben Wright.
Many local farmers rely on selling produce to their communities through markets throughout the Bay Area.
“It’s just a great service to the community, supplying fresh vegetables from the farm,” Simms said. “My farm is a mile away from the market itself. We, as farmers, need a local outlet.”
Erin Tormey, who founded Coastside Farmers Market in Half Moon Bay, said farmers markets are more than a financial necessity. They are an opportunity for a town to connect and for farmers to connect with the town.
“When you can see the entirety of your community at one place at one time doing something as fundamental as feeding a family, they’re making a choice to participate in their community,” she said.
Pescadero Grown will feature live music, a few new vendors, a few familiar ones, a free bicycle repair booth, a raffle with prizes from coastal businesses, and the token program, which Puente will continue running. People under the federal poverty limit can enroll in the program and Puente will match up to $20 in tokens at the market.
“I really enjoy bringing local organic food to our Coastside community,” said Ryan Casey with Blue House Farm, which has participated in the market since it started. “The market has a really special community feel that I’ve always appreciated.”
The market will start on one holiday, the Fourth of July, and end on another, Halloween.
“It’s a swell little farmers market,” Bowman said. “It’s small, but the stuff is great.”