FARM TO FASHION
A Weekly Farmers’ Market Comes to the California Market Center
Tables stacked with carrots and celery. Bushel baskets filled with Cara Cara oranges and tangelos. A sea of strawberries packaged in white cartons.
For the first time in 50 years, the California Market Center’s front plaza was the site for a farmers’ market expected to be a weekly occurrence every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The inaugural market, held on Feb. 27 with 19 vendors occupying 30 white-tented booths proved to be extremely popular with CMC tenants and local office workers in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District.
Carolyn Mathis, owner of the Marcel Ties store in the Fashion District, stopped by the market after seeing a large sign on the street for the event. “Everything is fresh, organic and natural,” said Mathis, who is a vegetarian. She noted that the CMC farmers’ market fills a void in the fashion district’s food scene because there are only a handful of places in the area to buy organic food and meals. “People are more health conscious now,” she said.
Natalia Pereira, owner of the nearby WoodSpoon restaurant, bought mushrooms and oranges at the market for her popular Brazilian restaurant. She believes the market will not only contribute fresh food to the neighborhood but also create more of a community by drawing people out of their offices. “We can take a stroll here. We can have a coffee. We can talk to each other. It’s a blessing,” she said.
Gabby Natareno, an assistant apparel buyer who works at the CMC, liked the convenience of the market.
The idea for a farmers’ market came from a brainstorming session last September when representatives from the CMC and the LA Fashion District Business Improvement District got together.
Becca Dawson, the CMC’s senior marketing manager, said the building and the BID were looking for a way to build a wider community of people and also have something the entire fashion district could enjoy. The BID introduced CMC management to Susan Hillyer of California Produced, which organizes farmers’ markets, and Hillyer recruited the vendors to exhibit at the market.
Fruits and vegetables were not the only items at the market. Prepared foods, including pupusas, sushi and baked goods, were also sold and could be eaten at nearby tables and chairs.