WatchSonoma Watch

New home for Santa Rosa farmers market



The Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market announced Thursday that it will relocate to the south parking area of the Wells Fargo Center for the Performing

Santa Rosa Farmers Market in 2012. (PD FILE, 2012)

Arts on May 19.

The market decided to move from its current location at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building after Sonoma County officials ended the market’s lease in a dispute over higher costs.

The county has rented the space to the newly formed Redwood Empire Farmer’s Market, which is partly made up of former and current vendors of the Original Farmers Market.

“We found a new home,” said Lesley Brabyn, secretary for the Original Farmers market. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be part of Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. Their commitment to the community is a good match for our purposes and our mission as well.”

The market’s vendors will be notified of the move by regular mail, email and through fliers this weekend.

“We are thrilled to have the market coming here,” said Peggy Mulhall, director of business partnerships and community relationships for Wells Fargo Center. “They are a 40-year-old community treasure and we are a 30-year-old community treasure.”

Mulhall said that negotiations between the two parties began in mid-March and that a one-year rental agreement was signed on Wednesday.

The Original Farmers Market said it would hold all special events at the new location, including Farm Animal Day, Heirloom Tomato Tasting and Honor the Gravenstein Apple Day.

County officials said that since 2002 they have been giving the market a rent break worth $156,000 compared to the standard rate for the facility. The market’s rent was supposed to increase in 2009, but the county gave it a three-year reprieve.

The market’s rent this summer was to increase from $23,875 a year to $57,660, a 140 percent increase market representatives said was too onerous.

Brabyn that Wells Fargo is charging $33,204 for about the same space but “many more amenities.”

Mulhall said the market also will complement the new hospital that Sutter Health is building.

The Original Farmers Market has operated every Wednesday, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, and Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The new market at the Wells Fargo Center will have the same schedule.

Brabyn said she expects that about 75 percent of the market’s current vendors will move to the new location. The Original Farmers Market has a maximum of about 90 vendors operating on any given day.

Rob Cary, president and spokesman for the Redwood Empire Farmers Market, said his operation has already taken applications and fees from 40 vendors, some of them new farmers looking to sell their products.

Cary said the Redwood Empire market would be in place at the Veterans building parking as soon as the Original Farmers Market leaves, and that there would be no gap in service.

Cary wished the new market well.

“I hope that they both thrive,” he said. “I am happy to hear that there are two markets in Santa Rosa. It’s really important that we support local farmers and that we have them feeding as many people as possible.”

11 Responses to “New home for Santa Rosa farmers market”

  1. Rhonda says:

    Missy, The Wednesday Market at the Vets will continue without a hitch!

    I applaud the Regional Parks Department and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for sticking by their decision.

    Paula’s group has gotten over $150,000 of taxpayer subsidies over the past 10 yrs plus. Besides Paula and Company have been trying to move this market for years just look at their meeting minutes.

  2. Steveguy says:

    Missy– Mike’s is on River Road just west of Fulton Road, kind of across from the old Fulton Poultry processing plant, or just across the future SMART train tracks.

  3. Missy says:

    1. Where is Mike’s on River Road???

    2. Wednesday day market at the Vet’s building – is that still on?

    3. Which one will Dry Creek Peaches & Twin Peaks be at?

  4. Vowel Movement says:

    G-vines… It’s the county that owns the Vets building, not the City… and the County lost nothing. They have found another Farmer’s Market who is willing to pay fair market value.

    Here’s what happened…

    The original farmer’s market has been leasing this space from the County for decades at way below market value. The County advised the original farmer’s market that beginning in July, they have to pay fair market value. This would increase stall rental rates from $13 to about $25 bucks per Saturday.

    The de facto queen of the original market, Paula, would have none of it. She dug in her heels and refused to pay fair market value. The Redwood Empire Farmer’s Market approached the county and agreed to pay what the County wanted. Paula and her ilk were left without a parking lot on which to peddle their wares. Paula struck a deal with the Wells Fargo Center to lease their lot.

    The original farmer’s market will commence operations on May 19th at the Wells Fargo Center. The Redwood Empire Farmer’s Market will commence operations at the Vet’s building on the same day.

    We now have 2 markets covering different demographics. Paula the queen of the kickback is gone gone gone. Seems like a win-win to me.

  5. Over milked cow! says:

    GREED! did not pay off this time, now S Rs got NOTHING!

  6. Grapevines says:

    Just goes to show you what happens when bureaucrats start messing with what’s working. When the Farmer’s Market was at the Vet’s Building the city was collecting the rent for them being there. Then some bureaucrat who was just full of themselves got the idea to raise the rent on them. Convinced the other bureaucrats (probably didn’t take much convincing because they all think their full of themselves) and so they dumped the news on the Farmers Market.

    So rather than coughing up extra bucks, what did the market do? MOVED that’s what!! Now the city is out the money they were getting from them, yet we the public can still go and purchase from the market.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if the city now wants to install a toll road on the approach to the Wells Fargo Center to try to recapture the money they lost on that one.

    Farmers Market 1
    City bureaucratic fools 0

  7. GAJ says:

    Something we can all applaud.

  8. Steveguy says:

    Some vendors are too ’boutique’ and think that they have ‘special’ food. I like vendors like Sayre Farms at the Windsor Market. Peggy is very good and not so high priced.

    The more the better, and I hope the other prices come down. And before you lash at me, I do know farming costs and the growing of a farm garden. But $2.50 a pound for mere heirloom tomatoes ? Have to feed the pet pig ya know…

  9. Steveguy says:

    I live fairly near there so I will go, though some of the prices are high. Mike’s on River Road is the BEST !

  10. Steve Klausner says:

    More markets in more places on more different days is more better. There is an empty parking lot Santa Rosa owns on Sebastopol RD, put a market there! Competition will bring down prices and lower prices will bring in more consumers increasing demand and profits for our farmers.

  11. Jim Bennett says: