Decline in San Carlos market shines light on active community

An attendee enjoys fresh produce early Sunday morning at the San Carlos farmers market.

Erin Kee

An attendee enjoys fresh produce early Sunday morning at the San Carlos farmers’ market.

Despite the San Carlos farmers’ market being open year-round, rain or shine, fewer people are showing up, according to vendors.

The San Carlos farmers’ market features locally grown food, downtown music, and a series of local businesses. For years people have come to enjoy the community, spend time with friends, and listen to the local band. The market serves as a perfect way for the San Carlos community to come together for a warm end to the weekend.

However, recently, vendors have noticed a decline in popularity.

Peter Nsegu, a 12-year farmers’ market vendor for Peter’s Kettle Corn, said, “We like convenience. So regardless of how much we want to be able to recycle and purchase locally, it’s just, ‘Oh, I need this. I’m not going to wait until next weekend to get it.’”

Although farmers’ markets are allegedly losing popularity, the sense of community within the market has never wavered. 

Some vendors have been at the market for 12 years, and others, like Loretta Hicks of Sweet Lil’ Lo’s, have only been here since July of this year. History, culture, and community thrive in the San Carlos farmers’ market and the customers who realize that never fail to support their local vendors.

“I love interacting with the customers. That’s why I keep coming back,” Hicks said. “From what I see, people love coming here. I think that they love the feeling of a sense of community.”

Many also believe that the farmers’ market allows for a much closer relationship between the vendors and the customers. Many customers come not just for the community aspect but because they know that they can trust the vendors to provide fresh, local products.

“We already understand the mass production that happens when it comes to food in general,” said Bian Jabari and Eilen Hauang, two attenders of the farmers’ market. “So that’s why we go to farmers’ markets. It’s literally the farms coming to you, and it’s the closest you can get to the farmers.”

However, even for the most community-oriented person, it’s evident to vendors and customers that the farmers’ market isn’t as busy as it was in the past. But, an interview with Wendy Schettino from the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce revealed that the decline in activity could be another demonstration of the city’s active community. 

“I love our amazing, loyal vendors, old and new, that come year-round. Vendors have many choices of markets, and we are so appreciative. It is why we don’t bring in new vendors to take the place of the seasonal vendors, such as berries and others, who are not there in the colder months. We hold their spots, tighten up the flow, and welcome them back in the spring,” Schettino said.

The San Carlos farmers’ market has been a staple in the San Carlos community since 2004. A decline in activity does not necessarily mean an end to the San Carlos farmers’ market; after all, a 15-year-old market can’t be gotten rid of that fast. People are constantly changing, and as new trends and consciousness to environmentalism are on the rise, farmers’ markets might be as well.

Carlmont alumni and proud vendor of Starblast Co., Viviana Tacussis, said, “I think that farmers’ markets are making a comeback. People are starting to consume in a more conscious way. There’s more awareness about where food comes from and whether it’s organic versus non-organic.”