Farmers Market Update – June 2023

by Ken Katz

We’re very pleased to report that Chase Pennington has been selected as the Agricultural Institute of Marin’s Operations Manager and in that capacity, he’s responsible for overseeing all of AIM’s eight Farmers Markets. In addition, he is continuing to serve as the lead manager at the Sunday Marin Farmers Market at the Civic Center.  In 2014, Chase started with AIM as a part-time assistant market manager after a short stint in commercial real estate. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2012, with a BA in Sociology. His experience in Oregon really shaped his understanding of different socioeconomic groups, and the varying hurdles different people must work to overcome. The opportunity to help support California Agriculture, while improving local food systems really aligned with his passion for helping a wide range of communities while providing equitable opportunities. He lives in San Rafael and enjoys camping, traveling and cookouts in his backyard, using fresh ingredients from the farmers market.

In addition to all of the above responsibilities, for the past several months Chase has been spending most Saturdays at the Grand Lake Market while AIM was attempting to fill the vacant Market Manager position. In a May 17 email, Chase announced their decision:

We have hired a new manager, Mahader Tesfai, whom we are extremely excited to be welcoming to the team, and introducing to the market this Saturday, 5/20!  Mahader will be joining us as our Full-Time Grand Lake Farmers Market Manager. He brings his passion and experience in building equitable and environmentally beneficial food systems, along with his expertise in event planning and management from running concerts and to hosting education conferences. Mahader has worked in Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, and East Harlem, NY in youth education, edible garden programs, school-based health centers and college readiness programs. He is also an active member of the arts and education communities in the East Bay. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Black Studies from UC Santa Barbara and is Certified in Conflict Mediation and Resolution from UC Berkeley. Mahader will begin training this Saturday, and I will be working with him until we feel he is ready to take on the market himself. 

If you’re interested in knowing more about Mahader’s background, there’s lot of information available online including examples of his artwork and a videotaped interview with KQED. On a personal note, I want to applaud AIM for bending over backwards to find an East Bay candidate with all the right credentials.

One new farmers market vendor debuted this past month. Very Mulberry is based at Habitera Farms in Brentwood where deciduous Mulberry trees reach heights of up to sixty feet. The farm was founded by Anil Godhwani who remembered eating this delicious fruit during his childhood in Delhi, India.

Do to the excess rain this winter followed by the unusually cool spring, many of the seasonal crops will be a little late in arriving. Be patient! This too shall pass.

If you haven’t already noticed, all the arts and crafts vendors have been moved to an “Art Walk” adjacent to the sidewalk on Lake Park Avenue. These folks (who are mostly local) heavily rely on their farmers market clientele — so please try to check out their wares.

The Grand Lake Market is looking for new vendors but with very specific guidelines.  If you’re interested, applications are at this link.