Farmers Market Has a New Lease on Life


by Jerry Barclay

If you wandered through the Farmers Market on the Saturday before last, you may have wondered why a small group of people adjacent to the Information Booth had their arms held high with red plastic cups in hand. 

They were there to celebrate an announcement AIM CEO Andy Naja-Riese had made in an email on July 9:

“Im excited to share that this morning, we received our fully executed license agreement for the Farmers Market signed by the City Attorney and Real Property Asset Manager. The agreement has a baseline year plus five one-year extensions for a total of six years.

Its taken a long road to get here, but Im relieved that we finally made it to our destination. Thank you all for your support and for believing in us. We wouldnt be here today without you, especially Ken and Jerry for being partners in this process together. Now its up to us to continue our success at the farmers market.”

A long road indeed! So long that much of my pertinent records are on a computer I abandoned in 2016! A great deal of credit goes to Andy Naja-Riese, who joined AIM as CEO in April of 2018. He has brought a sea change of philosophy, leadership, and organizational direction to AIM. In that time. AIM has proven to be an important and genuine community partner bringing many new programs to Oakland and helping segments of the population who face food insecurity. That and much more. The year prior to Andy’s arrival, Ken Katz and I (on behalf of the Grand Lake Farmers Market Citizen’s Advisory Committee) spent a year lobbying the City to issue a Request for Proposals for the right to operate this market. AIM came to us shortly before Andy was hired to inform us that the prior CEO had resigned, they were searching for a new CEO, and recognized our frustration and dissatisfaction. Over time, it became apparent that AIM, under Andy’s leadership and with new board members, was serious about delivering on their promises.

Now that the Agreement is completed, I look forward to AIM increasing community involvement to an even greater extent, while fulfilling their commitment to help promote businesses in our Grand Lake neighborhood. Let’s make the Grand Lake Farmers market an even better venue. For the farmers especially, and for our community. Lets be an example of a community and an organization coming together for mutual benefit.

And, for the record, it’s not just us customers who love this market. This from two long-term vendors:

Adriana Silva from Tomatero Farm: “Grateful to have been a part of this moment. Grand Lake has such a special community. Long may she reign!”

Curtis and Priscilla Lucero from Lucero Organic Farms: “Of all the markets I do, Grand Lake is my favorite! I look forward to participating in it for years to come.”

And, finally, a special thanks to Councilmember (and President) Nikki Fortunato Bas, Miya Chen, and the rest of Nikki’s staff for their valuable ongoing support of the Market and for facilitating the negotiations between the city and AIM.  Their continuous help got the ball across the goal line. Despite so many important and challenging things they work on, this was not overlooked.  Thank you!

Editor’s Note: The license agreement is available as a PDF file at this link.

Jerry is a graduate in architecture from UC Berkeley. After a long career in construction and real estate development–which included the redevelopment of Old Oakland, construction of Stern Grove, and a management role for the Christ the Light Cathedral–he is now happily retired. Jerry was appointed Chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee by Pat Kernighan in 2007. He and his wife, Caryn, have lived in the Grand Lake Neighborhood for thirty-seven years, and he is a regular shopper at the Grand Lake Farmers Market.