Antioch's farmers market returned on May 15 for its second year. Located in the Somersville Towne Center parking lot adjacent to the Chevron Station, the market seemed to attract a decent number of visitors on its first day.
A little band playing lively Carlos Santana-like music served as background as shoppers wandered among the various vendors selling breads, cookies, pita chips, fruits and vegetables and more.
We returned on May 22, eager to bring home some more of the enormous, juicy strawberries we had bought the week before at the Lujan Farms stand. Gabriella Lujan told me this was her first year as a vendor. Traveling up from Hughson had not been worth it, she continued. If her sales didn't improve, she would not continue to come.
Matthew DeLosier of Tachella Farms in Brentwood was returning for his second year and planned to stick out the entire season. Having missed only a couple of weekends in 2010, he had a more positive attitude. As I spoke with him, a line of people stood behind me waiting to buy cherries and apricots.
Shawn Lipetzky, market manager, hopes that the greater visibility of the market's location (last year it had been located farther down, closer to Sears) will be beneficial. Most visitors show up, he said, in the early hours (the market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), with the last one and a half hours having slow sales. Lipetzky had attended a couple of City Council meetings last year when the city considered returning the market to Rivertown, its former location. With city coffers suffering, however, bringing the market to the downtown district did not pan out. Mayor Davis, Lipetzky continued, showed up on the market's first day and appeared to be enthusiastic.
Pamela Gonsalves, guest services director for the mall, believes that the market and the mall are a good fit. With the market's proximity to Macy's, shoppers may decide to extend their outing and step inside. Our mall isn't the only one affected by the economy's downturn, Gonsalves told me. New stores are scheduled to open in the near future, she said, and the mall constantly strives to help the existing shops by promotions.
The mall approached the Pacific Coast Farmer's Market Association, according to Lipetzky, who knows that the likelihood of success rests with exposure. People know about the Pittsburg and Brentwood farmers markets, the latter having been in existence for five years.
Have you been to the Antioch farmers market yet? If not, I suggest a visit.
Maris Bennett is an Antioch resident. Contact her at email@example.com.