Newest Markets Hope to Keep Fresh Veggies Flowing into Neighborhoods

San Jose streamlines rules for neighborhood farmers’ markets

Julian St. John Market

An experiment in bringing neighbors together over food – and bringing fresh food to neighborhoods – kicked off in two San Jose communities earlier this summer.

Now, the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association and community leaders hope to make San Jose’s newest markets sustainable.

The Sunday morning Mayfair market and Wednesday evening Julian St. John market launched in June as a way to bring healthy foods to communities where it may be hard to find fresh fruits and vegetables, said Laura Salcido, the association’s community outreach coordinator.

The locations were chosen over the winter, when the association held community meetings to find locations for two USDA grant-funded markets.

In the Julian St. John and Mayfair neighborhoods, Salcido said, “folks recognized that there was a deficit of fresh foods.”

“Everyone wanted a place to buy fresh foods,” she said.

The association found its match. Now, the key is to keep the markets alive.

The grants funding the Mayfair and Julian St. John markets last two years, after which, Salcido said, the markets must sustain themselves.

The Mayfair market already closed early for the summer. The Julian St. John market attendance spiked at 300 people in June and now has dipped to about 100 each week, said market manager Moises Mena.

While small, the market does seem popular. On a recent evening, families drove and walked to the parking lot that houses it. A little boy stood in awe of the size of a fresh caught salmon, as his parents tasted hummus. Families sorted through piles of stone fruits and grapes.

The concern, Salcido said, is the potential for a downward spiral. If the markets fail to make enough money farmers may drop out, reducing the markets’ ability to attract shoppers.

Neighbors want the Julian St. John market to be a success, said Dulcey Branch, president of the nearby Roosevelt Neighborhood Association.

Active community email lists – including those serving Naglee, Roosevelt and Julian St. John – frequently post about market, what’s fresh, what’s on sale and how to support it.

“There is concern from the neighborhood,” she said. “We want it to stay. That means we need to shop there.”

Before the new market opened, the closest farmers markets were those around San Pedro Square on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. The Saturday morning market is also new this year. But, it is a 2-mile hike for Branch.

“It was just too far to walk home with the produce,” she said.

The new market is also attractive, as it becomes a neighborhood gathering point.

“It’s been great for the neighborhood, getting people walking around, seeing each other,” she said. “That just makes a big difference.”

The Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association hopes to increase the viability of the Julian St. John market. It already expanded organic offerings to attract shoppers, Mena said.

The association is also considering moving the market to Santa Clara Street to increase foot traffic. To sound off on the issue, visit the market’s Facebook page.

More about the new markets:
All of the new markets accept EBT and offer $5 in market cash for each $10 in EBT credit spent there.

• Julian St. John, 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, East St. John Street at 16th Street
• Mayfair, closed for the season Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays Kammerer Ave.

Other Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association locations in Santa Clara County:

  • Alum Rock Farmers Market
  • Berryessa Farmers’ Market
  • Evergreen Farmers’ Market
  • Hanchett Avenue Farmers’ Market
  • Kaiser Permanente San Jose Farmers’ Market
  • Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Farmers’ Market
  • Milpitas Farmers’ Market at ICC
  • San Jose Downtown Farmers’ Market
  • Santa Teresa Farmers’ Market
  • VA Palo Alto Farmers’ Market
  • Vallco Farmers’ Market