By Dave Schwab
The Bird Rock Farmers market proposal is off the table.
Catt White, a farmers market manager who had been negotiating with a group of Bird Rock Elementary School parents to host a Friday afternoon weekly farmers market at La Jolla Methodist Church, confirmed late Tuesday the idea has been abandoned.
“The Bird Rock Farmers' Market Committee and their consultant Catt White of SD Weekly Markets have regretfully come to the conclusion that they will no longer pursue the opening of a Bird Rock Farmers' Market at Mira Monte Plaza,” White wrote via e-mail. “Delays to the process are anticipated to continue and opening a new market is ideally accomplished at the height of the growing season, so we are moving on to other projects for now.”
“Our apologies to the many Bird Rock residents who anticipated the market opening this spring,” added White. “Our thanks especially to those who wrote letters and made calls in support of the market. We have been assured that there are better ways of supporting Bird Rock schools in this period of severe budget cuts. We ask the community to please support every one of those efforts.”
The farmers market proposal had been detailed by proponents in recent presentations before the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board, La Jolla Town Council and Bird Rock Community Council.
Parents from Bird Rock Elementary working with White could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
The notion of creating a neighborhood market serving Bird Rock was first raised a couple of years ago, but was tabled after an appropriate location could not immediately be found. The more recent proposal to hold it on church grounds ran into stiff opposition from residents living around the Upper Hermosa church on La Jolla Boulevard.
They said though they were completely supportive of the school they felt the location near a busy street surrounded by a quiet residential neighborhood was the wrong spot for a market on Friday afternoons.
A group of residents, who had written to the Light a couple of weeks ago to express their opposition, issued a statement Tuesday evening. Signed by Debbie Adams Brian Collins Barbara Decker Larry Haswell and other Upper Hermosa neighbors, it reads:
“The Upper Hermosa neighbors nearest to the proposed farmers market are pleased with today's announcement that the proposal will no longer go forward. Neighborhood concerns have been addressed and as a result there will not be a Bird Rock farmers market in the planned location. Our community will look forward to seeking alternative ways to support Bird Rock Elementary and all of our local schools.”
Sherry Berman Ahern, who spearheaded formation of the La Jolla Open Aire Market, held Sundays on the grounds at La Jolla Elementary School at 1111 Marine St. as a benefit for that school, was another person against the Bird Rock plan. That market has grown from a handful of vendors to more than 150 in 12 years.
On Tuesday, she said “I told them from the beginning that this wasn’t going to work and that there was no need for two farmers market so close together. There are lots of other fundraisers that they (school) could do a couple times a year on a weekend that would really help raise money for their school.”
White, who had been working hard to help get the new market off the ground this spring, wrote in a followup email, "I wish that I had been able to fulfill the vision of the moms who recruited me to create a healthy food market and a family-friendly gathering place; the timing of some elements of the process made that difficult."