By Jeff Clemetson | Editor
Mission Valley residents will no longer have to drive all the way to Ocean Beach on Wednesday evenings to shop at a farmers market.
On July 6, Market on the Mesa, a now-weekly farmers market in Serra Mesa, held its grand opening. The market, located at 3333 Sandrock Road, is open from 3 to 7 p.m.
Market on the Mesa sells locally grown fruits and vegetables along with specialty prepared foods, and is the first place in many years where Serra Mesa residents can buy fresh produce within their own community. Located between Qualcomm Stadium and Montgomery Field airport, Serra Mesa lost its last major supermarkets in the early 2000s and has seen smaller independently-owned markets come and go since then.
Debbie Lou, who moved to Serra Mesa in 2012, conceived the idea for starting a farmers market to address the community’s frustration with not having any nearby grocery stores. Lou formed the Wholesome Neighborhood Project, a nonprofit consisting of Astrid Brown, Gloria Roma, Terri Strait and Diana Wendel, that raised more than $11,000 via the online crowdfunding site Kickstarter and nearly $2,000 via check donations for the market’s start-up fund. Market on the Mesa was selected by Kickstarter as a “Project We Love” — a special designation Kickstarter staff gives to projects they are especially enthusiastic about.
“Not only will we finally have a place to buy fresh produce within Serra Mesa, a community that sadly fits the definition of a food desert, I also envision the farmers market to be a fun and social gathering place where neighbors can strengthen and build new bonds,” Lou said in a press statement. “We are immensely grateful for the help and contributions from so many Serra Mesa residents and are especially thankful for the support and sponsorship of the Serra Mesa Community Council, the Afghan Community Islamic Center, the Serra Mesa Recreation Council and Gethsemane Church.”
Market on the Mesa is contracting with Brian Beevers of Brian’s Farmers Markets to operate and manage the market. Beevers said he is excited to work with Serra Mesa because it is a tight-knit community that showed it was willing to support a market through the donations it raised.
“A lot of people who put on markets won’t go into a community of that size,” he said, adding that the space in Serra Mesa is smaller than a lot of markets with room for only 15 to 20 vendors, maybe up to 25. “So I asked them to show me community support by raising $10,000 and they exceeded that.”
Starting a farmers market is only half the battle. To keep the market going after it has lost its “newness” is the most important thing, Beevers said. “It takes a commitment from the community to keep it going,” he said. “They have to return week to week to buy their produce.”
Market on the Mesa’s initial offerings included a mix of vendors offering a variety of items including organic and conventional produce, eggs, honey, hot prepared food, fresh-roasted coffee, hummus and pita, kombucha, mushroom products, decorative succulents, and local arts and crafts.
Beevers’ markets also offer memberships to an innovative CSA (community supported agriculture) program where you can sign up to get a fresh box of locally grown, pesticide- and herbicide-free produce each week.
For updates and more information about Market on the Mesa, visit facebook.com/serramesafarmersmarket.
For more information about Brian’s Farmers Markets, visit sdmarketmanager.com.
—Reach Jeff Clemetson at email@example.com.