Farmers Market Update – November 2021

by Dan Foster

Market Participant Updates:

  • Forest and Flour (gluten free and vegan bakery) started October 30
  • Pimpin’ Chkn (fried chicken, salad and sandwiches) started October 26
  • Soul (green juice, wilted greens, and flatbread) will start November 6
  • County Line Harvest returns November 6
  • Western Sun Floral is retiring from farming after many, many years. They are a beloved staple of the market, and we are incredibly sad to see them go.
More Market Updates:

The Christmas tree lot will be sharing the park beginning November 20. Many participants will be moved to accommodate this, so please feel free to check at the info booth if you can’t find what you are looking for.

Entertainment Schedule for November:

Dan Foster has been a market manager with AIM since 2017 and is currently managing the Grand Lake Oakland Farmers Markets. Prior to his time with AIM, Dan spent eleven years in produce/retail management at Whole Foods Market. Dan lives in Novato with his wife and two (soon to be three) daughters. Dan studied Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In his free time, he makes music, plays games, or hoops it up in a local basketball rec league.

Contact: dan@agriculturalinstitute.org

Editor’s Postscript: 

Once again congratulations to Dan on the birth of a beautiful baby daughter and we’re also extremely pleased to welcome him back to the market. A tip of the hat also to Joey Garcia for so ably filling in for Dan while he was on paternity leave.

As for Western Sun Floral, Ryogi and Kiyoko Sakaue joined the market shortly after it temporarily moved out from under the freeway circa 2001. That figures out to be roughly 1,000 round-trips (a total of 175,000 miles driven) from Watsonville to Oakland. This past Saturday, on their last day at the market, we had the good fortune to meet (and photograph) one of their most devoted fans. Twenty years ago, Moyosiore Olude drove up to the market from her home in Fremont and was immediately struck by Ryogi and Kiyoko’s “wonderful energy” and the quality of their flowers. She’s been a customer virtually every week since–a period during which she first moved to Oakland and then on to Alameda. Here’s wishing Ryogi and Kiyoko a well-earned retirement.

A shout-out as well to Dan and to AIM for continuing to make the Grand Lake Farmers Market even more representative of the community it serves, as reflected in their choice of musicians and also the newest artisans and food and produce vendors. We were particularly pleased to see Meaza Haile debut this past month, since her 8am Fashion and Tailoring shop is catercorner from the market on Santa Clara. For the record, the bow-ties pictured above are repurposed from neckties.

We were equally pleased to see Oakland-based Pimpin Chckn here at the market. When we introduced ourselves Saturday morning, we made a point of mentioning a couple of their predecessors. Souley Vegan (which now has four locations, including one in Vegas) and Phat Matt’s BBQ. Both of these restaurants built their initial clienteles at the Grand Lake Market. We should have also mentioned a third vendor who began selling at just about the same time as Western Sun Floral. Under the shadow of the freeway, Steve Sando introduced us all to heirloom beans that he grew and packaged under his Rancho Gordo label. Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for him), he was soon discovered by the folks at the Ferry Market Plaza Market and he couldn’t do both events. Nearly twenty years later, Rancho Gordo no longer needs the Ferry Plaza Market as their produce is distributed nationally (including at Oaktown Spice shop just down the block), and he’s the author of three books. In all three of these cases, the market fulfilled what we see as one of its ultimate goal: to serve as a small business incubator.

P.S. In this July 2021 Splash Pad News article, we wrote about the success of the Bounty Box program and also reported on a market tour that included representatives from the Oakland A’s and Kaiser Permanente Hospitals, whose financial support allowed for a major increase in the number of boxes that were donated weekly to Oakland families in need. A video documenting that tour shot by the Oakland A’s is available at this link.

P.P.S. The September 16 broadcast of Leslie Sbrocco’s “Check Please! You Gotta Try This!” concludes with a brief visit to the Grand Lake Market at the 23-minute mark.