Berkeley’s farmers’ market: What keeps them coming?

Luiza Motter, right, works as a massage therapist and hopes to lure shoppers seeking stress relief at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.
Photo by Alexa Ahn, Teen Observer

BERKELEY, Calif. — The enticing smells of baked goods and pastries, jams and preserves and cultural foods are enough to have you running toward the white tents of the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, which on Saturdays fills Center Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The flavorful nectarines, strawberries and plums have consumers buying by the pound. An amateur at the Farmers’ Market is sure to remember the sights and smells of such a bustling and invigorating place full of locals, students and even musicians. But what keeps the regulars of the Farmers’ Market coming back?

“The people are very friendly,” said Luiza Motter, a massage therapist at the market since 2010. The Farmers’ Market establishes a relationship with its customers. Wendy Tao, who has been attending the market for five years, said, “I feel a connection to the local farmers.”

Motter also feels a partnership with the other vendors: “I trade massage therapy services for candles.” The marketplace is far from a competitive arena, Tao said, adding, “It’s a great atmosphere. It keeps me coming back.”

Another contributing factor is the healthy and organic aspect of sustainable farming.  Tao, who favors the variety of fruits and vegetables, said, “It definitely enhances her meals,” and, after feeding her daughter another sample of fruit, noted, “She loves it.”

Ramona Bell, who has only been shopping at the market for several months since she started a raw food diet, said, “This transition to Farmers’ Market is permanent.” Nicol Gaffery, a first-timer at the market, said, “It depends on the market, but I seek them out.” He and girlfriend, Tesia Bubry, also said,”The food is fresh and tastes better.”

The Farmers’ Markets in Berkeley been around for 25 years and show no signs of slowing down. Dylan Cardiff, who works at the Ecology Center, which oversees the markets, said, “It’s a great mix of organic vendors in an area with downtown public transportation for people to come in and out.” This easy access and fresh food on the spot reflects the steps toward a healthier life that organic vendors and local farmers are trying to achieve.