Published May 20, 2008
Volume 16, Number 5

Pleasanton Farmers’ Market Has Recipe for Success 

The time has come to welcome back the select group of certified-California growers who truck their crops to the Pleasanton Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning, rain or shine. Actually, many of them never really left, but their ranks, depleted by winter’s pinch, are swelling again as the state’s bountiful produce season hits its full stride.

Observing its 16th anniversary this year, the market has become a weekend ritual for the literally thousands of residents (peak attendance can top 3,000) who flock to the popular venue to satisfy their craving for a connection to the food they consume.

John Silveira is the director at the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association (PCFMA), the not-for-profit organization that runs Pleasanton’s and other local farmers’ markets. Along with serving as the manager of the Pleasanton outlet shortly after it opened in the summer of 1992, he spent a three-year term on the board of directors of the city’s Downtown Association. These experiences have given him first-hand insight into the collaboration and networking that built support for the market, including, for example, the efforts that improved vehicular access for vendors and created additional parking for the public three years ago. Payback for these initiatives has come in the form of the market’s own growth and increased foot traffic downtown. Still, Silveira uses a different yardstick to measure performance. “Success, in my opinion, derives from the community knowing where its food comes from, creating relationships with the farmers who grow what we eat. The Pleasanton community is ‘hungry’ for that,” he remarks.

PCFMA is a staunch advocate for local agriculture, encouraging newcomers and working hard to provide a way for current growers to remain on the land they are cultivating, often as part of a second or third generation. “It’s up to us to work with the farmers to try to keep them changing with the times, looking at the different possibilities to sell what they grow,” Silveira comments.

The market provides an invaluable opportunity for buyers and sellers to meet and interact. “For a farmer to get direct feedback from customers on whether they like the product—that’s priceless. Market vendors have the chance to see that their investments of time and treasure are paying off. They truly love to farm and will grow anything as long as they have an outlet to sell it.”

Some of the new stalls to look out for this year are Holding Ranch, which offers grass-fed organic beef from Contra Costa County; and Terra Bella, which raises fantastic heirloom tomatoes, melons, and organic mixed greens in fields less than one mile from the market at the south end of town. Also watch for blueberries, a “hot crop” in the San Joaquin Valley right now.

The market sets up in the quadrant between Main and W. Angela streets every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find out what else is fresh at www.pcfma.com.


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