Liberty Public Market gets weekly farmers market

The market got a market.

Liberty Public Market, the popular food hall at Point Loma's Liberty Station, debuted a weekly outdoor farmers market on May 4 with more than 60 local produce, meat, cheese and specialty food purveyors, as well as artisan crafts.

The California Certified Farmers Market, which is held from 2-7 p.m. each Thursday, fills a gap cited by some early detractors of Liberty Public Market - a dearth of fresh fruits and vegetables for sale. The market opened with one produce stall, Garden Fresh, but it soon closed.

David Spatafore, whose Blue Bridge Hospitality group co-developed and runs the year-old Liberty Public Market, said he underestimated the challenges of selling produce, such as razor-slim margins and a high potential for spoilage and food waste.

"Part of our initial plan was to get more farmers market vendors to go into the public market but what we discovered was many of those vendors just want to be farmers," Spatafore said. "It's different being at a farmers market once a week for four to five hours versus 12 hours a day, seven days a week in a retail situation."

The 25,000-square-foot public market has proved to be a magnet for everyone from tourists to grazing gourmets and is dominated by stalls that sell prepared food, much of it eaten on-site.

Spatafore said several vendors - Venissimo Cheese, Liberty Meat Shop and FishBone Kitchen - all have a strong take-home retail component.

"I underestimated vegetables though, it's a hard market," he said. "Having the farmers bring it directly from the farm is our answer."

The farmers market is run by Ron LaChance, the manager of the similarly sized Leucadia fresh market. It is located on the tree-lined expanse across from the public market, along Historic Decatur Road, between Sims Road and Decatur Court.

Local musicians provide entertainment and future offerings will include a "Shop with the Chef" dinner series, culinary demos and monthly pop-up tastings.
Twitter: @sdeditgirlmichele.parente@sduniontribune.com

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