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South Berkeley Farmers' Market hopes to bring fresh produce to Lorin District

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JUNE 19, 2012

The Tuesday South Berkeley Farmers’ Market will move to a new home July 10 after spending 25 years at its traditional location at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Derby Street.

The new location at 63rd and Adeline streets near the Oakland border is the result of both the planned construction of a baseball diamond at the previous site, which would have displaced part of the farmer’s market for a period of time, as well as the desire to provide fresh produce to an area of Berkeley with few nutritious options.

“One of the great things for us is visibility,” said Kirk Lumpkin, the market’s special events and promotions coordinator. “When you’re driving by the MLK market, you can blink and turn your head and totally miss it. We’re going to be along a major street now.”

Lumpkin said the city’s Ecology Center, which manages the Berkeley farmers’ markets,  has seen declining market dependence over the years, and that the upcoming move offers the opportunity to both reach more people and serve a part of the city that will benefit from increased organic food options.

The new location will be in a parking lot across from Sweet Adeline Bakeshop, and organizers hope the market will be more accessible due to its proximity to the Ashby BART station up the street. Lumpkin said that while the initial opening will be July 10, the market will hold its grand opening on July 24 with live entertainment.

“We have a proliferation of liquor stores but no grocery stores,” said Sam Dyke, chair of the Adeline/Alcatraz Merchants Association and owner of People’s Bazaar, an antique store along Adeline Street.

Dyke said the increased foot traffic will be good for local business owners as well as the neighborhood, pointing to the limited grocery store options in the area.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables, these little mom-and-pop stores don’t carry that kind of thing,” he said.

Maria Yates, farmers’ market coordinator for Hodo Soy Beanery — an organic soy products vendor based out of Oakland that participates in the Ecology Center’s North Berkeley, Downtown Berkeley and South Berkeley markets year-round — said it is always difficult to predict what will happen when a market moves.

“Sometimes people don’t always get the message,” Yates said.

To combat this, Lumpkin said the Ecology Center will be sending out press releases and posting information online and around the city to notify people of the upcoming move.

Tim Mueller, owner of Riverdog Farm, said the new location presents an exciting opportunity for vendors to pick up new customers. Mueller’s business has been a part of the South Berkeley market since 1993.

“It seems like the new neighborhood is happy we’ll be coming, and the old neighborhood is sad to see us go,” Mueller said. “But hopefully we’ll bring them along with us.”

Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.

JUNE 19, 2012

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