As farmers’ markets spread, profit declines

BERKELEY, Calif. — The Berkeley Farmers’ Market has been thriving  since 1987 and was the first in the nation to ban methyl bromide and also the use and sale of genetically modified food.  For years, the market has been popular with the locals and tourists alike, but with a steady


Torrey Olson has been selling at the market for 13 years.
Photo by Jack Donahue

increase of new farmers’ markets spreading across nearby towns, some farmers say they have  started to see a steady decrease in income.

“It grew steadily until about 2008,” said local farmer Kevin McEnnis. He has been selling fruits and vegetables at the market since 2000, but since 2008, he says, “It has shrank quite a bit.”  He also said the economy has been a huge factor in the recent decline in both customers and farmers coming to the market.

Another local farmer, Torrey Olson, has been selling fruits and vegetables in the market for 13 years.  When asked about the steady decrease in turnout for farmers’ markets, he agrees that “farmers’ markets are not growing because every little town has to have its own market.”  The once-thriving markets have started to see a decrease in loyal customers who stray because of the convenience of closer markets.

“We only really do markets still because we always have here,” he added.  Even with all the coming changes to the farmers’ market, if the atmosphere alone just stays the same Torrey thinks “it’s definitely worth it.”