By Meiko Patton
“Farmers’ markets are important to neighborhoods because they are a great way for people to get out of their houses and eat healthy,” said Jim Schneider, the AABA’s executive director. “They have also become social meeting places, a way to stay connected with your neighbors on a weekly basis.”
This farmers’ market in Normal Heights was delayed numerous times, overcoming several hurdles and setbacks. In 2008, the AABA began evaluating, researching and testing whether a farmers’ market would be sustainable in the business district. Members spent the bulk of that year scouting out possible locations, contacting farmers and soliciting community feedback.
Once the AABA secured a location, they looked to hire a farmers’ market manager, and they soon found one. However, before the AABA could get the market up and running, the market’s location fell through and the manager departed as well.
Meanwhile the AABA had to obtain the necessary permits from the county, state, police department, fire department, health department and others to operate the market. All agencies had to sign off on the project before any further steps could be taken to open the market.
By spring of 2009 the AABA had found a new farmers’ market manager, Catt Fields White, the founder of Little Italy’s farmers’ market, and a new location. They set an opening date for the fall.
One week before the market was to open, AABA members were at the new location at 40th Street and Adams Avenue doing some last minute measuring for the grand opening when a Caltrans worker approached them. He inquired about their business and then told them Caltrans owned the right-of-way to the street and, according to Caltrans guidelines, no commercial vending could take place there. The market’s opening was postponed yet again.
“As it turned out, Caltrans got behind AABA and within a matter of six months was able to relinquish its right-of-way back to the city. Thereafter AABA had to reapply with the city to get this much needed permit,” White said. “This was actually a benediction because if the market had opened without this knowledge, it would have subsequently been shut down.”
In the meantime, White was busy lining up the 70-plus vendors to sell at the market each week, including fruits and vegetables, bread, pastries, fish, meat, cheese, flowers, sea salts, spices, olives and sauces. Local artists and craftspeople will also offer their work for sale, and there will be live music and prepared food for purchase.
Parking is expected to be limited. The AABA is working with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, which also provides onsite bike repairs, to operate a bicycle valet service.
Founded in 1982, the AABA’s mission is to promote the 600 businesses along the two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue from Hamilton Street to Vista Street. In addition to the farmers’ market, the AABA hosts several annual special events, such as the recent Roots Fest on Adams, the Taste of Adams Avenue and the Adams Avenue Street Fair. For more information, go to adamsavenuebusiness.com.