Occidental Farmer’s Market set to open Friday

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Ten weeks after it appeared doomed, the beloved Occidental Farmer’s Market — or a newfangled version of it — officially has been resurrected.

The board of the newly formed Occidental Community Farmers Market announced that the incarnation of the market will open Friday from 4 p.m. to dusk, and continue every Friday through October 25.

Reaction was swift and disappointment widespread when the 17-year-old market’s closure was disclosed on March 21. Area farmers, townsfolk and businesspeople rallied to save what had become a treasured local tradition.

The board has engaged with business owners to resolve the stubborn problems of parking and restrooms. Also, the the new market will be more condensed, said board President Michael Stusser, who noted the food vendors will congregate on 2nd Street, where there will also be tables and music.

“We are exhilarated,” said Stusser, who promised that the market will be “as good, or better than ever.”

He expects about 20 vendors on Friday — fewer than at the height of summer, when the market regularly could draw 800 to 900 people, but typical for a first week. Some of the fruits and vegetables being raised by local farmers aren’t ready for harvest. Still, he said, “people who come for local produce won’t be disappointed.”

On March 21, Kim Dow, founder of the popular 17-year-old market, announced she was pulling the plug. Worn down by demands made by some of the town’s businesses, unable to get assurances the market would be welcome in its present location after 2019, she had announced “with a heavy heart” on the market’s website that it was shutting down.

The board engaged with business owners to resolve the stubborn problems of parking and restrooms. Evelyn Negri, matriarch and owner of the legendary Negri’s Italian Dinners & Joe’s Bar, has offered the use of a parking lot on 1st Street, across from the town library. Furthermore, the county’s public works department has told the market board it will soon make available to marketgoers another lot, a few blocks north, across from the community center.

You can reach Staff Writer Austin Murphy at 707-521-5214 or austin.murphy@pressdemocrat.com.

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