Last week I learned the farmers are not coming back.
Upset about this, I called the Citiparks Department at 412-422-6547 to verify this. I was informed they plan on continuing the Farmers' Market in South Side.
This information did not satisfy me and I began to call around and investigate. Even though it is scheduled to resume the week after Mother's Day in 2012, our Farmer's Market is in jeopardy to have the same fate as TnT Hardware, Ejay's Bookstore, and other local favorites we now only remember.
It was explained to me the reason why we lost so many vendors at our market in South Side is because when it moved its location from 18th and Carson streets to 20th and Sidney streets it lost its visibility and therefore is not attracting people to the market. I also learned the decision was made by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority and not Citiparks. The Parking Authority will not allow the Farmers' Market to be there once a week.
Because of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority's decision we are in jeopardy of losing the opportunity a farmer's market creates – offering unique products, more heirloom varieties, and more opportunities to build relationships and learn about healthy eating. Farmers' markets are a community experience, where you can meet your neighbors, friends, and farmers, and where more of your dollar will stay in the community.
At a farmers' market, you hand your money directly to the person who grew or made the products. One cost advantage farmers' markets offer is the ability to buy fresh food in bulk at the height of the season and preserve or freeze for later use when the product would otherwise be more expensive, hard to find, or of lower quality.
Farmers' markets also bring business to neighboring stores and communities where the market is located.
Purchasing as much as you can from your community's farmers' market is the simplest way to demonstrate your support. I am asking everyone to go today to 20th and Sidney streets from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Talk with the farmers that have stayed in South Side until the end. Buy some wonderful produce (after all Thanksgiving is just two days away), and urge them to come back to South Side in 2012.
I also would like to urge everyone to write letters to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority Executive Director David G. Onorato, 232 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, and ask for use of the better lighted, more visible parking lot on 18th and Carson streets for our farmer's market.
Call the Director of Citiparks Michael T. Radley, and ask him to fight on our behalf to move the farmer's market to a better location for all. And last, contact Councilman Bruce Kraus and ask him to help.
Sherri Lynn Dunik