Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA PLAZA – The North Coast Growers Association (NCGA) learned Saturday at 5 a.m. that it wouldn’t be able to use half the Plaza. With the Ninth Street side an off-limits crime scene, the market would have to adapt.
City Manager Karen Diemer, NCGA Executive Director and Director of Market Operations Laura Hughes scrambled to work out a solution. Participating farmers rely heavily on market proceeds, and losing a day of sales would be devastating to them.
Hughes and Diemer met on the Plaza and decided on a new layout which used the southern half of the square, the center and the block of Eighth Street past the Arcata Post Office.
“Reconfiguring that many vendors was definitely a challenge and having to off-load produce rather than have their vehicles parked nearby was a burden for the vendors, especially during this very abundant time of year,” Bramble said. “Vendors certainly lost some sales for the day, compared to an average Saturday in September, but the community still came out and shopped and the market was a success.”
While sales were down and conversation was frequently dominated by the morning’s bad news, at least there were no cars. “Vendors and customers actually enjoyed the intimate atmosphere, having vendors on both sides of the street facing each other, and everyone appreciated not having vehicle traffic on the Plaza,” Bramble said.
Continued Bramble, “Laura said the community and farmers are all heartbroken over another tragic event, but that it was healing to come together and support one another through the farmers’ market. She reiterates her thanks to the city staff, especially Karen Diemer for going above and beyond to ensure the market was as successful as possible.”
The hasty adaptation was another testament to the endless resourcefulness of farmers. “There was never a thought to cancel the market,” Bramble said. “The farmers and staff are resilient and committed to bringing local fresh food to the community no matter what.”