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From a Little Veggie Stand Grew the Seaside Farmers Market

November 16, 2011 by Melanie Cissone

On any given Saturday morning at the Seaside Farmers Market, you’ll find everything from organic breads, to crispy green arugula, to farm-fresh organic chicken and duck eggs. The colorful posters by artist David DeGregorio pasted all over SoWal each month mark the passage of the seasons and the growth of the market (see poster gallery).

Editor's Note: Check out the special Holiday Market on Wednesday, November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving from 2-6PM. Pick up your fresh, local ingredients to have the best Turkey Day spread ever!

Jennifer Kuntz first opened Raw & Juicy in Seaside, the town’s local organic juice bar and café in her shiny airstream trailer on Scenic 30A. Shortly after getting her business off the ground, she saw a need to bring local, fresh and mostly organic products to the SoWal community. It was a natural progression for her and something she is passionate about.

She set to work and talked town-founder Robert Davis into letting her reincarnate the market. The new edition launched in 2008 with only three vendors. Since then, hard work and attention to detail has created a colorful and bustling market with a wide variety of food products and related items.

The number of weekly vendors varies between 15 and 20.  For anyone who has visited more established farmers markets, that’s a small number by comparison.  Market founders all say it takes time to cultivate and nourish a successful market.  Seaside’s weekly market is no exception, although it has come a long way from a little produce stand in the early 1980s.

The original veggie stand nearly 30 years ago offered organic breads, fresh shrimp, used books and pottery.  Alongside the peaches and tomatoes, the Davises sold Seaside tee shirts.
 

Today, Kuntz describes the best thing about the market as the sense of community that has developed around it, the very thing that the Davises set out to build.  Kuntz says, “Lots of people go to church and their religion and faith are what unite them in a sort of homogeneous fashion.  At the farmers market, there is such diversity among both regulars and visitors and the common ground is fresh, local food.  It is so rewarding to see the market grow and to see vendors, neighbors, friends and vacationers all in one spot on a Saturday morning.”

One of the challenges at the market includes a diversity of personalities among the vendors and what each expects of such a trading post.  Another challenge is getting local vendors to bring certified organic goods to the market or to source them.  For a variety of reasons, including the expense of both turning fields or feeding processes organic and the certification process itself, becoming a vendor has required some coaching on Kuntz’s part.  As the market evolves, Kuntz would like to host a food festival one day.

On reflection about the importance of the market to Seaside, Robert Davis said, “Now we can get much of our food from local farmers, supporting our area's entrepreneurial economy and lowering the carbon footprint of the food we eat.  Jenifer Kuntz and her colleagues in the Farmers Market have helped our community get to the next level.”

The Seaside Market will be open on both Saturday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  All the usual vendors will be there with special holiday offerings and more. Kuntz advises requesting an e-mail description from her at jlkuntz@mac.com to get a full listing of holiday specialties and vendor contact information to make reservations for limited items.

Click to see a gallery of all Seaside Farmers Market posters by David DeGregorio.

 

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Melanie Cissone

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