For more than 35 years, the Santa Barbara Farmers’ market has brought fresh fruit, vegetables and other nutritious food to the city in a thriving Saturday morning ritual in the commuter parking lot at Cota and Santa Barbara streets. Now, the city is considering ditching the market to build a new police station.
As one of the longtime farmers who feed Santa Barbara, I must stress that we support our police and their need for an upgraded station. They keep our city safe. But the cost of displacing the farmers’ market is too high. It would undermine the city’s health.
I know this because I’ve been selling organic produce and eggs and poultry and flowers for three decades. We have regular customers, home cooks, and restaurateurs who want the freshest, healthiest ingredients to feed their families and customers. We also have out-of-town visitors who flock to the market.
The market’s longtime home is conveniently located downtown, accessible by foot, bike, close to public transit and nearby parking. It attracts thousands of people who know our market is one of the best in California. The disappearance of these customers would disrupt our income, of course, but also impact surrounding restaurants, bakeries, and other shops. Many of my customers walk two blocks to State Street, where we already see too many empty storefronts. Can State Street take another hit?
Our flagship farmers’ market generates 54 percent of total revenue the six markets held throughout the county, subsidizing the smaller ones to keep them going even if they operate at a loss.
For the health of our community, we urge city leaders to explore other building sites for a police station that will not impact our local farming community, local businesses, tourists, and food lovers. If you care about the market, you can make a difference by signing the petitions available at all the county markets as well as contacting the Santa Barbara mayor and council members.
Or attend the upcoming meetings: Tuesday, November 13, 5:15 – 7 pm. 2018, Franklin Neighborhood Center, Multipurpose Room, 1136 East Montecito Street; and, Thursday, November 15, 5:15 – 7 p.m. La Cumbre Junior High, Multipurpose Room, 2255 Modoc Road. We appreciate your support.