While the La Mesa City Council wrestles with what to do about the popular Friday farmers market in the downtown village, another weekly event featuring fresh produce will be popping up in a different part of the city.
The operators of Grossmont Center announced they will offer a certified farmers market starting July 24. The market will be open from 2 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday at the mall.
Trevor Moore, Grossmont Center’s director of public relations and events and also the market organizer, said half of the vendor fees will be donated to the La Mesa Park and Recreation Foundation.
The shopping center is also one of four contenders interviewed last week to run the current downtown Farmers Market held Fridays on La Mesa Boulevard. The interviews were conducted by an outside panel hired by La Mesa.
In late March, the City Council said it wanted to look into having the market held on a different day, at a different time or at a different location. Ending it was also a possibility. The City Council said the need for some sort of change came on the heels of concerns of some village small business owners.
Several of the boulevard businesses have complained they are losing customers and income because of the market, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on Fridays.
The Friday farmers market, a staple in the city in some fashion since 1993, moved to La Mesa Boulevard in 2018 after a long run in a corner lot on Allison Avenue at Spring Street. The new site is a closed two-block stretch of the street with 57 metered parking spots that are not available from 1 to 8 p.m.
The council asked staff just over two months ago to solicit bids from people or groups interested in running the market starting in August. The city’s request for proposals yielded four responses, including Grossmont Center, the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the current leadership -- both Brian’s Farmers Markets and the La Mesa Village Association.
Interviews were held at City Hall last week. City Manager Yvonne Garrett said a staff report will be shared with the City Council about its findings on July 23.
La Mesa Village Association Chairman Peter Soutowood, who followed Brian’s Farmers Markets owner Brian Beevers in the interview process last Thursday, said he hoped his group would be given another opportunity to run the market, preferably with Beevers’ expertise.
The La Mesa Village Association makes about $2,000 per month from the market. He said those funds are used to pay for marketing and insurance and to pay for other events the group has been putting on in the village, such as the weekly car show and Holiday in the Village. The group also runs the popular La Mesa Oktoberfest.
Moore said if his group is chosen for the Friday market, it would continue to host the Wednesday market that is set to start next month. That market will be limited to farmers selling produce and will not include artisanal goods and crafts and is planned to be held near the CVS drugstore on the west end of the mall.
If the center gets the green light for the Friday La Mesa Farmers Market, that one would be held on the other side of the mall behind Walmart in the parking lot near Claim Jumper.
Moore also said that the Grossmont Center’s “Shop Local Market” would continue to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the last Saturday of every month throughout the mall. That event, which is coming up on June 29, features merchants booths set up like a sidewalk sale, live music and entertainment, and an organic food market featuring local vendors.