The intimate farmers' market — one of the city's best-kept secrets, some say — has been in place since last summer, a brainchild of the design-consulting company IDEO.
It primarily serves about 250 IDEO employees, though an occasional passerby has been known to stop by.
But on April 22, which not coincidentally is Earth Day, the small market will move on to a bigger stage. As part of an effort promoted by City Council member Yoriko Kishimoto and Mayor Peter Drekmeier, the roughly 30 farmers from Capay Valley will soon be moving to City Hall's King Plaza, supplying downtown employees with their weekly produce.
The downtown market is one of myriad green initiatives Drekmeier proposed during his State of the City speech on March 9. But unlike some of his more costly and controversial green proposals (a carbon tax, a new composting facility, an irrigation system using recycled water), the farmers' market idea is just about ready for implementation.
Thomas Nelson, president of the Capay Valley Farm Shop and member of the farmers' collaborative that supplies the IDEO market, said the plan is to relocate the market in April. The collaborative would still deliver produce baskets to IDEO as part of the weekly CSA service, but the service would also be extended to City Hall employees and other downtown workers.
The City Hall market will be open every Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m., allowing workers to pick up produce on their way out of the office. Nelson noted that the project is still in its "pilot" phase and is set to run until Nov. 30. But Kishimoto noted that the city's other weekly farmers' markets — the nearly two-year-old California Avenue market and three-decades old one on Hamilton Avenue near the downtown post office — have demonstrated that the city has plenty of demand for produce that comes straight from the farm.
"There's twice as many people who work in Palo Alto than live here," said Kishimoto, who, as mayor, helped establish the California Avenue farmers' market in 2007. "This would be a chance for them to do some shopping before they go home and take some fresh, organic produce with them."
But the goal of a farmers' market goes beyond simply providing shoppers with one more option. Kishimoto said a farmers' market is a strong instrument for building the community, promoting local agriculture and supporting organic farming.
IDEO set up its farmers' market mainly to provide a service for its employees, but the project struck a chord with City Manager James Keene and Drekmeier, according to Dennis Boyle, IDEO's general partner. Since December, Boyle has met with both men to discuss the prospect of bringing a farmers' market to City Hall.
"Our intention is to be the catalyst and the seed for the city," Boyle said.
The market has already helped IDEO workers better understand where their food comes from, he said. Drekmeier said he hopes the King Plaza market would similarly help spread awareness about community-supported agriculture and other green initiatives. The market, he said, could also help the city promote other environmentalist programs, particularly its reusable-bag initiative.
Drekmeier also noted that the King Plaza market could expand based on demand.
"It'll start as a pilot project and, for the first month, be relatively small," Drekmeier said. "Then at that time we'll see what kind of a response we get."
This story contains 638 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.