BERKELEY, Calif. — An older woman carries a cloth bag up to a stand covered in boxes of vibrantly colored fruits. The man at the stand is already preparing her order. He greets her by name and smiles as she leaves with her produce. Torrey Olson of Gabriel Farms has been selling produce at the downtown Berkeley market since its opening in 1990.
“There were a lot less markets back then so this used to be one of the only choices as far as markets to sell and shop at,” Olson said.
Another vendor, Riverdog Farm, brings its produce in from a farm about two hours away from the market. They were also one of the first farmers to participate in the market.
The market has grown from a handful of vendors to its “peak at around 60 vendors during the summer,” said Dylan Cardiff, one of the Ecology Center’s employees.
Gabriel Farms is proud of its organic label and takes pride in selling at the market every week, said Olson. “I mean it’s Berkeley! The atmosphere for a market couldn’t be more perfect than right here,” he said.
Whether it is families buying groceries, entertainers bringing their instruments or the organic, locally grown advocate looking to support local growers, this market is unique.
“The market enables people to put money directly into the hands of the farmers, which in turn helps the whole community,” Cardiff said. “The farmers work so hard day in and day out, I’m not even sure they know what sleep is, so it is nice to see them rewarded by the community.”