City uproots Memorial Park farmers market

There will be no crunchy carrots, succulent strawberries or fresh herbs brought from local farms to South San Francisco this year, as city officials recently decided to cancel the farmers market at Orange Memorial Park.

A staple for six years, the market was pushed out of its location due to construction of a new recreation center at the park. City officials, however, said they had a difficult time finding a replacement site this year and ultimately decided to cancel the market.

But officials are hoping to reopen the market in 2009 — either in the BART station pavilion on El Camino Real or in a high school parking lot.

“We haven’t given up on it,” said Councilmember Rich Garbarino, who is in charge of finding a new location. “If we come up with something different, we can attract a bigger crowd.”

While farmers markets are gaining popularity in San Francisco, Daly City and Pacifica, the popularity of South City’s market has waned in the last two seasons, city officials said. Garbarino said the change came in 2006, when a coffee-stand operator popular with the market’s shoppers went out of business.

Officials from Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, which has organized farmers markets throughout the Peninsula, blamed the recent lack of interest in South City’s market on the location.

“When you’re in a park, you become a destination market and don’t have any ‘happen-by’ traffic,” the association’s president John Silveira said. “In our industry, we struggle with these types of issues all the time because we don’t own the property and we’re at the will of the cities.”

City officials hope to fix that problem by moving the market to the BART station. Although it will cost the city $500 a month, Garbarino said it would attract commuters, residents of nearby developments and shoppers who visit the nearby Costco and Trader Joe’s.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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