By Jess Winans
‘Allied Gardens’ farmers market revived by duo of personal trainers
Christine Quilici and Josh Perez certainly aren’t strangers when it comes to fresh starts.
The Allied Gardens business partners and owners of TruSelf Sporting Club opened the Allied Gardens Farmers Market on May 7, 2017 at Patrick Henry High School on Wandermere Drive.
While not an extension of the previous market that was held Fridays on Waring Road, the new Allied Gardens market — now held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — operates under the same name.
Which might be a little confusing because obviously, Patrick Henry is not in Allied Gardens.
Perez said they chose to name the market “Allied Gardens” because it was originally supposed to be held in the park of the Allied Gardens Recreation Center but at the last minute they were told they couldn’t have it there but they had all of their marketing done already so they decided to keep it under that name.
But just like the old Allied Gardens farmers market, the new one that is in San Carlos still serves the same purpose — to provide fresh fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts to the Navajo communities.
“We saw the need from the community where they felt like there’s nothing going on the weekends because other farmers markets are so far away,” Perez said.
Organic snacks, crafts and beauty products from around 30 vendors like Farm-Fresh to You Organics, 1904 Apothecary Lane and Beachside Organics can be found at the market. The market has also holds special events like free-reusable bag giveaways, petting-zoos and yoga classes.
“We wanted to give our neighbors access to fresh, clean, local-grown, non-GMO products,” Quilici said. “We believe in healthy food sources and we support locally-grown and locally-made products.”
The market also provides income for local farmers and smaller manufacturers.
“I wanted to really tap into a local community and the Allied Gardens farmers market is really new and upcoming,” Vivian from Beachside Organics said. “We really wanted to kind of just get in there and share our products with the community.”
On Sundays, the market can draw in a crowd of anywhere between 50–200 attendees, sometimes more especially during special events.
“It’s cool to have a local market here,” said Frank, an Allied Gardens resident who attended the market with his wife Shannon. “This is only our second time here and we love it.”
A history of healthy businesses
In addition to the farmers market, Quilici and Perez, who are personal trainers, own and operate TruSelf Sporting Club located at 5125 Waring Road.
The pair met a little over four years ago working at a gym with what Perez called poor management.
“Our boss told us he was going to reduce our salaries by 10 percent because the company wasn’t making enough money,” Perez said. “Then the next day, he comes in with a brand new Rolex and says ‘look what the company bought me.’”
So when Quilici received an offer to purchase the company, she reached out to Perez to be her partner and the two bought what is now TruSelf Sporting Club.
“We took over the client book, got rid of the trainers who were horrible, introduced computer systems and technology and changed the whole name and whole brand,” Perez said. “Christine and I have been business partners ever since, it’s always better to have two sets of eyes on something than one.”
But when the fit pair opened TruSelf, they definitely didn’t expect the building to burn down.
“The first building we signed a lease for actually burned down,” Perez said. He was at his mixed martial arts practice on June 14, 2013 when he got a phone call from one of his other business partners. The call came from 3050 Clairemont Drive, the original location for TruSelf Sporting Club.
“One of our partners who we were doing a corporate deal with called me and said, ‘Hey I was talking to someone and just wanted to let you know that our building is on fire.’” Perez said. “Then, I asked him if he was sure it was our gym and he said yes so I left.”
After arriving at the scene, it was clear to Perez that he and Quilici would have to start TruSelf Sporting Club over from scratch.
“When I got there, there were flames out of the windows and the fireman said the gym was so far gone that there was nothing they could do.” He said.
The pair then looked around at possible gym locations in Allied Gardens and decided on their current location at 5125 Waring Road. The gym is their primary business and is the only sponsor of the Allied Gardens Farmers Market.
Now, four years after the fire, Quilici and Perez prioritize giving back to the community. They donate all proceeds from the farmers market to the San Diego Unified School District and hold fundraisers at their gym, like yoga and wine nights, to benefit charities like St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“Our favorite thing about the market so far is hearing about all the ways that it is giving back and improving the neighborhood,” Quilici said. “It is meeting our expectations by supporting local farmers and small manufacturers, making clean food sources available to those that attend, creating volunteer opportunities, educating and creating awareness about organic and non-GMO sources of food and giving back to the community.”
The Allied Gardens Farmers Market is open every Sunday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. For more information visit their Facebook page at tinyurl.com/yaq4qrcm.
—Jess Winans is editorial intern for San Diego Community News Network. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.