By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
The new farmers market in the parking lot of the former Albertsons on Waring Road is developing a good reputation among those who prefer foods that are fresh, organic and locally grown (for the most part).
But that won’t be enough to keep it operating if someone else needs the parking lot, and it’s looking as though someone else will, and fairly soon.
Allied Gardens Shopping Center property manager Linda Lasher won’t say exactly who, just yet, but she will say something may be about to happen.
“We might be as little as two weeks away from announcing a new tenant for the Albertsons building,” Lasher said. “It might be a little longer, but right now we’re looking good for having a new tenant there very soon.”
The process, which drew a good deal of initial interest, may now be narrowed down to two finalists.
While those talks go on, people in the area seem to be enjoying the foods available at the farmers market. Generally, the foods they sell are a bit more costly than you’d find at grocery stores, but that’s at least partially offset by the fact that most of the foods are organic and will have been picked or harvested recently — some even on the same day they go on sale.
“We’re very much into organics, and it’s good to see them here so fresh,” said Jason Toth and Megan Grady, who visited the market on a recent Friday. “What we just bought was picked this morning up in Valley Center, so that’s about as fresh as it gets.”
Artiva Schoenen was making her second visit to the market.
“It’s good that this opened up here,” she said. “There’s nowhere near the selection you’d get at places like Whole Foods, but you know it’s gonna be nice and fresh. You don’t mind paying a little more for food you know is fresh and organic in nature.”
A little price survey we did confirms it’s more expensive for some foods at the Farmers Market.
Zucchini squash went for $1.50 per pound there, while Sprouts sells it for 98 cents a pound. Food4Less has it at 99 cents a pound, while the Haggen store that just replaced my own neighborhood Albertson’s in Santee wanted $1.49 per pound.
Fresh strawberries ranged from $3 per pound at the farmers market to $2.50 a pound at Food4Less, with the other stores ranging somewhere in between; the same range was true with fresh nectarines. Again, most people were willing to bite the bullet on the prices just to know the farmers market products were almost invariably fresher.
Slightly more than half of the booths and tables at the Farmers Market are devoted to food. The rest of the tables were primarily devoted to the kinds of commercial arts and crafts sales you might see at any street fair, having little or nothing to do with food. One table covered with commercially made models of sailing ships and other such things caught my attention. (It didn’t appear to catch anyone else’s attention.)
Until an announcement is made about the future of the former Albertsons space, the farmers market will continue to operate in the parking lot every Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.
—Write to Editor at Large Doug Curlee at email@example.com.