By Dave Schwab
Painting broad brush strokes of what a community farmers market would be like if it opened in front of La Jolla United Methodist Church off La Jolla Boulevard, the promoter on Thursday discussed the market’s prospects for success.
“We’re hoping to be successful,” Catt Fields White told a mostly receptive crowd at the Bird Rock Community Council’s monthy meeting March 1. If approved it would be open Fridays from 2 to 6:30 p.m. The market is being presented as a fundraising opportunity for Bird Rock Elementary School.
“The fact you’re a little out of the loop not next to a restaurant or a hotel — you’re only going to be so successful on a Friday afternoon in that location,” she said responding to one resident’s comment about the possibility of the market, becoming “too popular.”
Fields White’s remarks came less than a week after numerous Bird Rock residents living near the church turned out at a meeting of La Jolla Traffic and Transportation (T&T) Committee to question the appropriateness and viability of a market in their neighborhood. They expressed fear that the proposed venture would worsen rush-hour traffic and exacerbate existing parking problems in surrounding neighborhoods.
Chuck Patton, past BRCC president and owner of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, asked about the potential impact on local business.
“What are you going to do to ensure merchants on the boulevard are not directly competing with vendors at the market?” he asked.
“We would love to involve Bird Rock merchants,” Fields White replied. “If their businesses fit, we’d be happy to talk to them about having a booth.”
Fields White added only farm produce and related products are available at the markets she operates.
“We don’t do services,” she said. “There’s no real estate vendors, no solar panels, no Sparkletts water.”
“You’ve got to be able to give merchants the right of first refusal (to participate),” responded Patton.
“We do,” replied Fields White. “But most brick-and-mortar merchants don’t want a tent and won’t take advantage of the right of first refusal.”
“There has to be a plan in place to ensure merchants on the boulevard are not directly competing with vendors at the market,” concluded Patton.
A flier passed out at the BRCC meeting states:
• The market would offer educational opportunities for children and chef demos for adults.
• The church site offers more on-site parking than most county farmers markets.
• Proceeds split 50/50 between promoters and the community would benefit Bird Rock Elementary and possibly other local schools.
• A market would provide residents with farm-fresh produce in a local gathering place.
Fields White reiterated what she said at the T&T meeting: that a Bird Rock farmers market would primarily serve local residents, many of whom would be expected to walk or bike to the event rather than drive their cars.