The festive event will include cake cutting at 4pm, and live music by duo Dewayne Oakley & Christopher Lowell Clarke. Dressing up for the occasion is encouraged. The Ecology Center is excited to celebrate this milestone for our smallest, all-organic farmers’ market. We hope you will join, for more details, click here. Read on for our press release about how this market got its start, and the role it plays in the North Berkeley neighborhood.
Over a decade ago, the North Shattuck Association approached the Ecology Center with the idea of locating a farmers’ market in the Gourmet Ghetto. The market was launched in the parking lot of Elephant Pharmacy, which formerly occupied the Walgreens building. “That tiny location, with its blink-and-you’ve-missed-it exposure, was very challenging to endure,” recalls farmer Karen Lucero of Lucero Organic Farms. “The Ecology Center would reassure us that as soon as the City approved the street closure, we would see the neighborhood out in full, to shop the market.”
Once the farmers’ market moved to Shattuck, its success was immediate. “From opening day on, the neighborhood has shown up in droves…loyal weekly customers, summer tourists, local businesses, and so many others,” says Lucero.
The smallest of Berkeley’s three farmers’ markets, the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market has an airy, family-friendly, community feeling. People linger on the grassy median that runs down the block, chatting with friends while kids play nearby.
“The North Berkeley Farmers’ Market is a hub of the alternative food system,” says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center. “It’s a place where city people can pursue good health, delight their senses, socialize, support farmers who are excellent stewards of the land, and stimulate the local economy. We’re proud of this thriving community asset.”
A 2012 survey of North Berkeley Farmers’ Market shoppers demonstrated what a boon the market has been for the North Shattuck Business District: fully 56% of the surveyed shoppers said that the market is what brings them to the area. 72% of those surveyed reported shopping outside the market as well, spending an average of $33.91 at nearby businesses on the day they come to shop the market. The Ecology Center estimates this amounts to over $2 million in additional sales for local businesses annually.
With more than half of the 1700 weekly shoppers each week arriving by foot, bike, or public transit, this is one of the nation’s “greenest” markets. By creating a “Zero Waste Zone” and eliminating most plastics, the farmers’ market helped to create a model for the Reusable Bag Ordinance, which reduces litter and the use of single-use carryout bags in Alameda County.
Renowned culinary destinations in the neighborhood – including Chez Panisse, Masse’s Pastries, Bistro Liaison, Saul’s, and the Cheese Board – source ingredients from the farmers at the North Berkeley Farmers’ Markets, as do food luminaries such as chef, author, and restaurateur Alice Waters and author/journalist Michael Pollan.
The North Berkeley Farmers’ Market is one of few markets nationwide where 100% of the produce sold is certified organic. “We love the freshness of the top quality organic fruit and vegetables that are available each week,” say North Berkeley neighbors and regular market shoppers Lenny and Nancy Becker. “We enjoy supporting the farm-to-table movement of organic foods, and have become very fond of the vendors whom we have gotten to know over time.”
To learn more about the sustainable growing practices and backgrounds of the innovative farmers who sell at the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market, visit the Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market Vendor Directory.