Swarthmore’s Farmers Market Not Wanted Back

Photo: Courtesy Pacific Palisades Farmers Market

Editorial

Farmers’ Market Saga

In the past three years, there have been two important stories concerning the Palisades Farmers’ Market: one, surprisingly, was about the demise of the Glendale market and the second was about securing a new location for the Palisades Swarthmore market.

“Glendale Farmers Market on Hold” (Circling the News, November 7, 2018) was written in 2015, when Caruso VP Rick Lemmo was mentioned in an article in the L.A.Times about the closing of Glendale’s market, which had opened in 1992 on a block of N. Brand Boulevard. That farmers market was originally located within walking distance of Caruso’s The Americana at Brand shopping mall, which opened in 2008.

Christopher Nyerges, who had operated the farmers market for 13 years on Brand, was replaced when the Glendale Business Improvement District took over the market in 2013. The market was also moved away from the mall.

Nyerges predicted that the new location would fail because it was hidden away. But, he says, he was told by a BID member that the market was going to be moved off Brand because it was “dirty-looking.”

That farmers market was renamed “The Downtown Glendale Market” and the goal was to have as many as 75 vendors. When it opened, all of the vendors wore aprons with the market’s emblem and had blue-and-white checked tablecloths at their stands.

It failed.

Nyerges thinks the real problem is that urban businessmen don’t understand farmers.

“These are real farmers who actually grow food,” he said. “You must have respect for farmers to operate this sort of business successfully.”

In 2015, Liz Jaeger of Caruso Affiliated was asked if the Swarthmore Farmers’ Market would remain open during remediation and construction. “Yes,” was the answer. At the time, this author wondered if this was a prediction about how the Palisades market would fare.

A second story ran in the “old” Palisades News (“Farmers Market to Relocate to Pali High”) in July 7, 2016.

Once it became apparent that Swarthmore would be closed during construction, despite earlier assurances, there was a search for a new location, which included the Recreation Center, Via de la Paz, Antioch and La Cruz.

PARK: Huntington resident Rob Weber said, “I love the Farmers’ Market, but Sunday is one of the two busiest days of the week at the Rec Center. There already is insufficient parking for the events that take place at the Rec Center every weekend—can you imagine what a mess it would be if this market is added?”

There was also a feeling that Corpus Christi Church, Ralphs, Palisades Carwash and Pharmaca parking would be impacted on Sunday morning because of the market.

VIA DE LA PAZ: Was ruled out because of objections by members of the YMCA and the United Methodist Church and a lack of parking in the immediate area.

Pastor Wayne Walters said the church’s Board of Trustees voted against the idea because they worried about illegal parking in both its lot and the alley behind the church. In addition, the church board was concerned about potential accidents with pedestrians, cars and valets.

There was also no place to park the vendors’ trucks, which are currently parked along Temescal Canyon Road for the market at Palisades High.

A manager at nearby Gelson’s said the grocery store had not been approached by the market, but that Gelson’s would not be in favor of a Via de la Paz market location. Gelson’s, which also sells organic vegetables, would be in direct competition with the market and already has issues with non-customers parking in its lot, the manager said.

ANTIOCH/SWARTHMORE (south of Sunset): Other resident proposals included Antioch, which would also affect Gelson’s (and offer no parking) and Swarthmore south of Sunset, which would make the CVS parking lot inaccessible.

LA CRUZ: The market on this street would conflict with Sunday American Legion events, which require disabled parking access—and also impact parking in Ralphs.

In January 2015, Caruso spokesperson Liz Jaeger had originally said that the market would be able to remain in its location on Swarthmore. “Our goal is to keep the beloved Palisades Farmers’ Market operating on Swarthmore throughout construction,” Jaeger said. A few months later, Caruso Affiliated decided the market would have to move, but “we look forward to welcoming it back immediately following construction.”

In a February 14 story in the Palisadian-Post, a Caruso representative (no name given in the story) was quoted as saying that neighbors didn’t want the market back.  “Given this change of heart among our neighbors, and our desire to respect their wishes, we unfortunately cannot support the return of the farmers market to Swarthmore.”

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6 Responses to Swarthmore’s Farmers Market Not Wanted Back

  1. Rena Repetti says:

    One very important resource that should be part of any solution to bring the Farmers Market back into the village, north or south of Sunset, is the mall parking lot. Caruso signed an agreement with the neighbors explicitly stating: “For Sunday farmers’ market vendors and guests, free parking will be offered from 6:00am – 1:00pm.” He may not want the market back on Swarthmore north of Sunset, but this could be a great opportunity to show the community that he can keep a promise. I think the farmers would see more of us on Sunday mornings and all the shops and restaurants in the village, including those in the mall, would benefit.

  2. Eileen says:

    Haven’t many PPFM enthusiasts learned to like the current location near the HS? Seems like “the village” would be overwhelmed on Sunday if the FM returned there. The street is shorter now.

  3. John Wilson says:

    How about the Marquez area? Marquez school playground would be perfect.

  4. Phyllis Trager/formerly Phyllis Douglas says:

    The Farmers Market in the middle of town was so easy for seniors, disabled seniors and people with mobility difficulties to negotiate! Where the market is now is rough for those mentioned and impossible for some-meaning another goodbye to a fun activity! Sad. How about some more ideas?

  5. Gayle says:

    Thank you to the person who inserted the farmers market back to town language into Caruso’s contract. How does the town reinforce this? What is the stance of the new Chamber of Commerce? Farmers Market advantages businesses in town, especially restaurants. Parking is limited because grocery stores see competition. In fact, 1 day a week I was shopping at the Farmers market and the grocery store. Complementary not competitive is a way to think. How about parking under Chase Bank and other lots on Sundays? Who and what are the blockages. Also, who are the neighbors who object? How about a survey of our zip code conducted by Circling the News?

  6. D. Vaccarino says:

    Sad that Caruso cannot keep even one promise he made to the community.
    I certainly remember a lot of dialogue from Mr C about bringing back the FM to Swarthmore. It would certainly vitalize the ambiance of Swarthmore and move it from the realm of plastic flowers to healthy fruits and vegetables, which are more easily consumed.
    Furthermore – don’t forget … Caruso does NOT own Swarthmore – it’s a public street; it is in the public domain no matter how hard the Caruso PR machine tries to co-opt it.
    Let’s bring back the FM to Swarthmore … everyone may like it and it will help to humanize the area.

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