UPDATED: Downtown Farmers Market to Temporarily Relocate to North Pine

Photo by Thomas Wasper 

UPDATED THURSDAY, JULY 18 | Harbor Area Farmers Markets confirmed with the Post today that the Downtown Farmers Market’s temporary relocation will officially be happening. It will be held uninterrupted this Friday at 641 Pine Ave.

Farmers Market and food vendors (not the craft fair) will be open to serve customers from 10AM to 3PM. Free two-hour parking is still available at nearby City Place as is street parking along Pine Ave.

For more information, check out the Facebook event: facebook.com/events/394355277335449/

ORIGINAL TUESDAY, JULY 16 | After the abrupt cancellation of the Downtown Farmers Market and Craft Fair last Friday by the owners of hosting property City Place, the historic farmers market has found a temporary space where it plans to host this Friday’s event without interruption. 

On Monday, the “A Lot” at 641 Pine Ave. was offered to Harbor Area Farmers Markets (HAFM), which has operated Downtown’s market for 33 years, by Mike Wylie and Nima Nami of Cultural Alliance Long Beach and Historic Old Pine Avenue. A verbal agreement was reached to have the market there this Friday and the required permitting and insurance documents are in the process of being acquired. 

“I’ve been wanting to put a farmers market up there for years and I haven’t unfortunately had a lot of time to spend on doing that,” Wylie told the Post. “So when I heard about the Downtown market being cancelled, I was naturally like, ‘Absolutely, let’s talk.’ I received phone calls from numerous people in the community asking me to meet with them and provide at least temporary relief.”

The weekly market, which hosts 35 food and produce vendors and serves approximately 3,000 people every Friday, had been taking place on the streets of City Place since 2004, when it was moved from its previous spot on the Promenade below 3rd St. HAFM officials received a notice of immediate cancellation from TEC, the property management company in charge of City Place, as the market was setting up last Friday morning. The letter cited upcoming construction efforts as the main reason why the farmers market needed to go.

Attempts to contact Janice Schuerman, the TEC contact listed on the letter, have been unsuccessful since Friday.

“They might not have a lot of money, but there are a lot of people that come here,” Dale Whitney, HAFM’s Market Manager, told the Post as he was closing out food stamp receipts last Friday afternoon. “This is a large part of their social life for these people. They come here every week.”

The North Pine space currently being offered to the market for this Friday is a plot of land much smaller than the two-block stretch of the Promenade the market and affiliated craft fair was occupying at City Place, so as of right now, Wylie says that only the farmers market will be able to fit. He also said that the separately operated craft fair is looking into using the city-owned parking lot on the corner of 7th St. and Pacific Ave. to host the craft fair vendors.

HAFM board members will attend tonight’s city council meeting and plans to request that the City “facilitate any required permits and show leniency and compassion on any fees associated with acquiring the temporary and permanent locations.”

Whitney, HAFM Advisory Board President Joel Colbert and Advisory Board Member Julia Kohn also met with 1st District Councilmember Robert Garcia Monday, who voiced his support in the market’s search for both a temporary and permanent location, though no potential permanent spaces were considered during that meeting.

“We are touched and thrilled that Cultural Alliance and HOPA have come to our rescue, and Vice Mayor Garcia has expressed his kind support,” said Whitney. “Our goal was to quickly find a temporary solution to avoid the economic and social losses that our market and the downtown community would experience.”

Wylie doesn’t plan on hosting the market permanently, though future programming already planned for the space through the end of summer will not conflict with the market, which runs from 10AM to 4PM.

“I live at Promenade Lofts across 3rd Street and my office is in the Bungalow Arts Center, so I walk through the market every Friday,” said Wylie. “I think its a really neat thing for so many people in the community to have an outdoor event in the middle of the street like that. It’s much better than a hum-drum mall.”

HAFM is currently seeking a permanent space for its farmers and food artisans. Interested downtown property owners and city officials are encouraged to contact HAFM for open discussion. 

Eds. note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the craft fair was run by Harbor Area Farmers Markets. It is an independently operated craft fair that ran concurrently and adjacent to the farmers market at City Place.

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.