BERKELEY, Calif. —Most people systematize their groceries list and wake up on Saturday to buy from the local grocery chain. Yet at Center St. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley Farmers’ Market lives up to its slogan of “environment, community, justice.” Open from 10am-3pm, Berkeley Farmer’s Market is bustling and lively with vendors selling their merchandise, crowds sampling and buying, and street entertainers captivating their audiences, creating an enjoyable, family-friendly environment. Vendors and crowds that attend this weekly farmer’s market come for many reasons. Their love for the community and the inviting atmosphere drives them to return. “Personally, I love the community aspects of it,” said Jemima Farwell who works for Happy Girl Kitchen Co.
“It brings together a whole community,” she said. Vendors and street entertainers interact with the little children, offering them samples and asking for participation. Bob Bernstein who runs Bernie’s Best, and is commonly known as “Bernie,” enjoys “meeting people, trading and bartering” with buyers and other vendors.
Aside from the warming and amiable atmosphere, the farmer’s market is mostly organic and environmentally-safe. ” I try to avoid commercial corporate foods,” commented John Vaneyck and Carroll Esteves. “Their methods of farming is harmful to soil.” The notion of eating fresh and healthy makes people want to go. Brian Ogly was inspired by Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and thrives to eat organically. “I buy organic whenever I can,” remarks Ogly who works at the bread stand.
“The community’s really conscious about … alternatives,” said Obi Kaufmann of incense company Juniper Ridge, who began selling at the Farmers’ Market 12 years ago. Taking things a step further, he describes his products as ecologically, in addition to sustainably, conscious. Juniper Ridge incense products, in fact, derive from a pruning process that enables the forest to grow back stronger, and 10% of profits benefit organizations that defend western wilderness.
However Kriss Worthington, Berkeley city council member, utilizes the Berkeley Farmers’ Market to keep in touch with the community he represents. Such a direct approach is inherent in his political history. “I was very unhappy with my council member,” he said, recalling his exigency to run for office. Worthington merely ran for office to send a “message” to the City Council; now he maintains his reputation by visiting local hotspots and listening to citizens’ concerns. Describing it as a “social, cultural and political experience,” the Farmers’ Market is just another medium Worthington uses to keep in touch with the people.
Clearly, the Farmers’ Market isn’t just for farmers. This Berkeley community generates mutual relationships between customers and vendors, and most importantly, the environment, exemplifying a standard of “justice” that more communities should live up to.
For more information go to: http://www.ecologycenter.org/
Contributing writer: Christine A. Jackson