Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 18
Local Saturday farmers market finally sprouts
BY AMY ASMAN AND WENDY THIES SELL
Santa Marians now have a weekend farmers market to call their own. After four years of effort, a group of local produce vendors has launched a farmers market Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Sears parking lot on the corner of East Main and Miller streets in Santa Maria.
“This is the first farmers market to open in Northern Santa Barbara County on Saturday, ever,” Christy Laschiver, one of the market organizers, said.
“We’re targeting the working household. … This is an opportunity for them to have a Saturday market in their own area,” she said. “It used to be that the closest one [to Santa Maria] was in Arroyo Grande, which is a bit of a trek if you’re just buying some veggies for dinner.”
The new market boasts a diverse collection of vendors, including Best Apple Company, Dey’s Best Beef, G. Brothers Kettle Corn, and numerous vendors of fresh, local produce.
Richard Newell of Pepper Creek Family Farms near Arroyo Grande sells such organic produce as basil, rainbow chard, and green beans at several Central Coast markets each week. He’s thrilled that the Santa Maria Town Center mall’s management allowed farmers to start a market on the property.
“Over 100,000 people in one market—yeah, this was sorely needed,” Newell said.
Laschiver and her group got close to starting markets with a handful of other businesses and organizations, but those endeavors never got off the ground. They faced obstacles from the county’s planning and development department in the form thousands of dollars’ worth of permitting fees—a price the vendors told the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors they couldn’t afford.
“These folks want to be able to earn their living in and around the Central Coast,” Laschiver previously told the Sun. “They’re living and working here, and they can’t sell here. It doesn’t make any sense.”
The group established a nonprofit organization to circumvent the most expensive fees. Now Laschiver and company are working with the city of Santa Maria because the new market is within city limits. Town Center management has agreed to pay the $500 nonprofit status fee.
“It’s taken a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of effort, but we finally got a Saturday farmers market,” Laschiver said.