The Little Gem of Marin
April 27, 2017
As a senior about to leave to go to college on the East Coast, I have been taking time to appreciate the beauty of the Bay Area. One of the things I will miss most about Marin is the Sunday Farmers Market at the Civic Center, a treasure that I have been frequenting with my mom and sister since I was little.
The Sunday Marin Farmers Market was first opened in 1987, and has grown to be one of the largest markets in California as well as renowned across the country. Run by the Agricultural Institute of Marin, this market represents almost 200 local farmers, food purveyors, and artisans.
“Our organization’s mission is to help promote the benefits of supporting local businesses and local agriculture by connecting farmers and food producers with their community, in the interest of sustainability and health,” said market manager Peter Healy.
Healy has been the market manager of the Civic Center Farmers Market for three years. His ultimate role is to ensure that the market is a sustainable place for local, small businesses to flourish. He does this by establishing an area to rent out for the market as well as maintaining a good relationship with their landlord. He ensures the businesses represented are up to code with numerous regulations, schedules entertainment, invests in customer seating, and more.
“It’s all with the purpose of creating an environment where people will want to come, where customers will want to spend some time and not just shop but hang out and get lunch. [The market managers] are the first to get there in the morning and the last people to leave at the end of the day. It’s a big commitment,” said Healy.
Although even Healy admitted that the job of the market manager can sometimes be perceived as ambiguous, business owner Arielle Danan of Beber Almond Milk appreciates the care he puts into his work, especially when meeting with prospective vendors.
“I tell Peter all the time that he’s the nicest market manager that I’ve ever worked with. They’re all great, and it’s a very tough job to deal with all these different businesses I’m sure, but he really did dedicate to us that time and created the opportunity to come down and sample our product,” said Danan.
The Civic Center Farmers Market is heavily sought after by local business who want to be a part of the thriving community. Healy describes part of his job as ensuring that the market upholds its mission. When vetting prospective businesses that want to sell their products at the market, the market managers look for businesses that locally source their ingredients.
Danan wanted to use the most amazing almonds to create her product, so naturally, she chose to start her business in Northern California, the almond capital of the world.
“We are trying to make the freshest, most simple product we can. In the world of non-dairy beverages, there is a lot of processed, heavily diluted, and pasteurized products. We’re not necessarily trying to compete with the Blue Diamond and the Silk and all that, we’re just trying to offer something to folks who want something extremely pure and delicious,” said Danan.
Moira Kuhn of Marin Roots Farm explained that her farm was founded on the idea that she and her husband, Jess, wanted to know where their food was coming from. Kuhn is a longtime vendor at the Civic Center Farmers Market, having sold her organic produce there for over twelve years.
“I wanted to contribute to the sustainable food movement, and I saw farming greens as a great way to do that. I thought I was doing a lot of talk about sustainability, but I wasn’t doing much to contribute to that. I am honored to be able to feed my community, so that’s something that is special to me,” said Kuhn.
Kuhn sells spinach, arugula, lettuce, mustards, herbs, chicory, radish, turnip, beets, carrots, summer squash, strawberries, kale and more. She describes one of her favorite parts of her job as interacting with her regular customers.
“It’s wonderful to have a great connection with your customers. It’s great to be able to talk to people about why they did not like a certain leafy green. It’s important, for the customer’s sake, to meet the growers. It’s an essential piece to be able to meet your producer and to get to know them and trust what they’re growing and what they’re feeding your family,” said Kuhn.
Trust is a theme that runs deep within the Marin community that is united by locally sourced food. Healy, Danan, and Kuhn all note the importance of using ingredients with which our local land provides us. Healy ensures that the businesses that are represented in the Sunday Farmers Market encourage customers to question where their food is coming from and that they have an educational component that furthers the market’s mission of spreading food sustainability. In walking through the Sunday Farmers Market, I have a newfound appreciation for all the efforts put into making this market one of the best spots in the Bay Area. Healy, Danan, and Kuhn well-represent a piece of a larger community passionate about and dedicated to keeping the Bay Area healthy, fed, and happy.