The weekly farmers market moved into its new home in downtown Merced on Saturday, and organizers said the season is off to a good start.
Lesanne Jacobsen of Jacobsen Ranch in Le Grand said the market drew about 10 vendors for the first day in its new spot. The food vendors now sell their produce and products in the parking lot on Canal and 16th streets, which is behind 510 Bistro.
The certified farmers market has been a part of Merced’s downtown for more than 30 years and has traditionally been held in a parking lot at 18th and N streets. But, the farmers have agreed to move to team up for a joint effort with the Merced Main Street Association, a group made up of business owners.
Some of the farmers were nervous about the move, Jacobsen said, because the market had been at its old location for so long. “If Saturday was evidence of what’s going to happen, I think it’s going to be a positive move,” she said.
The market has its regulars, she said, but drew many new faces thanks to the move. The new location is visible to drivers along 16th Street.
The market typically offers lamb, baked goods, olive oil, nuts, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, vegetables and strawberries. Other stone fruits, as well as blackberries, are starting to come into season.
The number of vendors typically grows as the summer comes around because more crops are ready for sale.
The vendors at the certified farmers market range from those who are supplementing their income to those who make most of their money at local markets. Certified farmers markets, which are regulated by the state Department of Agriculture, require that most of what is sold come from the sellers’ farms or neighboring farms.
Instructors from the University of California Cooperative Extension are also often at the market to answer questions about gardening and pests.
The move was accompanied by jazz music from the Tenaya Middle School band, according to Daniel Kazakos, president of the association. He said he hopes to enlist all the school bands in the area to get on a rotation for the weekly market.
The music is also an attempt to draw downtown visitors toward the market.
Kazakos, who picked up some fruit and baked goods himself, said he hopes to add other attractions to the market slowly. He said he wants the farmers to be able to settle in before adding too many other activities.
“We’re checking off the boxes and taking things in time,” he said.
The market is set to run from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday.