By Karen Billing
A farmers market will soon hit the village streets as the Rancho Santa Fe Association board approved a nine-month trial run at its March 6 meeting. The market aims to bring a sense of community along with items such as fresh handmade pastas, gluten-free goodies, raw cold pressed juices, local honey and artisan chocolates.
The board approved the trial run in a 6-1 vote, with director Craig McAllister abstaining. The market will be held on El Tordo, between Linea Del Cielo and Avenida de Acacias, on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
RSF Association Board Vice President Rochelle Putnam said in the three-plus years the market has been discussed there’s been enough “rope-a-dope”— every objection possible has been raised and reviewed by the board. She said the board has considered all of the potential locations for the market and has moved the possibility of a market location away from residences and off the lawn at the village parks, and the board has responded to concerns that the market might interfere with the Secret Car Club that also meets in the RSF village on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
“I believe that the Secret Car Club and the farmers market can co-exist beautifully,” Putnam said, before making the motion to approve the trial run.
RSF Association Director Ann Boon complimented the commitment of the market’s planner, local real estate agent Janet Lawless Christ, comparing her to the Energizer Bunny or a toy that keeps bouncing back up after taking a flurry of punches. Boon said she took her “nub of an idea” for a market and kept working at it because she knew it would be something good for the community.
“If it works, it works. If it doesn’t the community will let us know,” said RSF Association Director Larry Spitcaufsky.
Lawless Christ said the market provides some much-needed vitality to the village on the weekends, creating a community gathering space. In addition to the products and social aspect it offers, Lawless Christ said the market could also enhance foot traffic through downtown, boosting awareness and potential revenue for retailers, restaurants and The Inn.
“If it is unpopular or a problem, it can be stopped at any time but I believe the joy and vitality it will bring will be worth it,” Lawless Christ said.
Lawless Christ feels the selected location is ideal as it does not disturb the Secret Car Club, is not contiguous to any residential properties and still allows for easy traffic flow.
Brandon Janiss and Tasha Ardalan, who run the Welk Resort Farmers Market and the Encinitas Farmers Market, will handle the management of the market.
Proceeds from the market will go to the Veterans Valor Fund, which grants scholarships for returning veterans to obtain agricultural education training with the Veterans Sustainable Training Program at Archi’s Acres in Escondido. Nature Designs, a landscape design company, has signed on as a sponsor to underwrite expenses of liability insurance, permits, signage and traffic control planning.
“It’s a great opportunity to enhance the livability and walkability of town and invite people to visit our merchants and restaurants,” said Kelly Fore Dixon of Nature Designs, a new Rancho Santa Fe resident.
Many residents spoke out at the March 6 meeting both for and against the market.
Robert Wood, a resident since 1972, said the RSF Association should consider the redundancy of markets in the area with nearby Chino Farms, markets in Solana Beach, Del Mar, Del Rayo Village, Carmel Valley, Encinitas, as well as the Lemon Twist produce stand on Del Dios Highway.
Wood also voiced concern about consequences such as compromising the safety of property owners, the noise of set up and take down, “neglected canine excrement,” leftover trash, increased traffic and lack of village parking.
“None of us, absolutely none of us, think this will do anything to promote or stimulate business in town,” said Bill McNally, of The McNally Company Antiques, speaking for village merchants. “I just think this is a terrible idea.”
Supporters shared an alternative view, that the market will bring a missing element to the community. They said they were excited about the market providing an experience in town and a way to interact with neighbors besides bumping into them at the post office.
“The center of town is adorable but it’s basically an empty shell, there’s nothing bringing the community together,” said resident Sarah Neil. “A farmers market is a great way to bring the community together and I’m excited to hear there’s a charitable organization that the funds will go to…It’s worth a try.”
A date for the opening of the RSF Farmers Market is still to be determined.