Richmond Farmers Market prepares to open second location, in Marina Bay
on October 16, 2023
The Richmond Certified Farmers Market Association plans to open a new market in Marina Bay Park early next year.
“It’s more than a dream now,” said Councilmember and former Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who represents the Marina Bay neighborhood and has been a key advocate for the market. “It’s a work in progress that we expect to happen in a matter of months.”
The Richmond Farmers Market, which has operated the original Friday venue for 40 years, also will be in charge of operating the Marina Bay location, which will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. The market is hoping to have 10 to 15 booths at the new location, according to market Director Tom Cloman.
The market will focus on local produce, coming from farms less than 100 miles away. Organizers hope to include hot food vendors and live music and to provide jobs to Richmond youth through a partnership with the nonprofit YouthWORKS.
Cloman estimates the opening costs will be between $500 and $1,000, which includes things like permitting licenses. These costs will be covered by the Richmond Farmers Market and its vendors.
Some customers at the Friday market downtown are excited about the prospect of a Sunday option.
Chio Fhanhl says he’ll go to replenish his veggies after the weekend.
Khamphouy Khansouvong says he would go if he didn’t work on Sundays. Khansouvong said he used to take his kids to Marina Bay when it had a Thursday market.
But Elmer Carvajal says he wouldn’t make the two-mile drive to Marina Bay.
Some residents are concerned about the new venue and think the existing one on Barrett Avenue and 25th Street should be given more resources.
Kenneth de la Cruz, CSA logistics manager for Urban Tilth, questioned why the focus isn’t on the current farmers market. “It makes more sense to keep growing that one than adding another one further away,” said de la Cruz.
Urban Tilth Director and Richmond City Councilmember Doria Robinson, who is involved in connecting the new market with local farmers, says there are efforts underway to revitalize the current market. The market declined in customers after it was forced to move from its original location in front of the library around a decade ago.
“What we’re trying to do is get it moved back in front of the library, where the streets are closed and you come and it’s fun and it’s festive and very visible,” Robinson said.
Cloman estimates that the move cut patronage by at least 30 to 35%. The Richmond Farmers Market has been trying to move back to its original location ever since.
“When we were in front of the library,” Cloman said, “the patronage was exceptional.”
Robinson said the new market in Marina Bay is just one step in a larger vision to bring food security to Richmond. In a city of 100,000 people, one farmers market isn’t enough, she added. “All the neighborhoods have problems accessing fresh produce,” Robinson said. “It’s not a question of either or, we need both.”
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