Menlo Park Farmers Market marks 25th anniversary
It was a day for celebrating at this morning’s Farmers Market in downtown Menlo Park where festive balloons lined the marketplace. A group from the sponsoring Lions Club was on hand to present the vendors with commemorative plaques and hand out cake to market goers.
We chatted with Lori Hennings who has been the market manager since it first opened in 1992. She told us 19 of the 40 vendors that rotate through the market seasonally have been there since the beginning. We think that’s remarkable enough to list them: F/V Anne B (Pietro Parravano), Heirloom Organics, Four Sisters Farm, Kashiwase Farms, Mellow Nursery and Farm, Medinas Berry Farm, McGinnis Ranch, Brookside Orchids, K & J Orchards, Halog Farms, Twin Girl Farms, Mello-dy Ranch, The Fruit Tree, Bounty of the Valley Farms, Hamlow Ranches, Happy Quail Farm, Swanton Berry Farm, and Tunitas Creek Aviary.
“In many cases the children of the founders have now taken over from their parents in helping customers at their stands,” emailed Lions member Jitze Couperus. “Of the rest of the farmers, many joined soon after the beginning and have been coming for over 20 years. Just a few have been with us for less than 10 years.”
Organized and run by volunteers who are members of the Menlo Park Lions Club, the stall fees collected from the farmers go into the coffers of the Club where, after paying expenses, the money is donated to deserving causes of various kinds — over $800,000 over the years. In addition, volunteers from the Lions Club collect excess produce donated by the farmers every weekend for distribution to help those in need, calculated to be approaching 900,000 lbs.
“Started by a motley group of ignorant amateurs a quarter of a century ago, we really had no idea what we were getting into or what the result would be,” continued Jitze.
“But most of all, without the loyalty and enthusiastic support of our customers that little spark of initiative would have long since been quenched, and a valuable community institution could never have grown to where it is today.”
Photos by Linda Hubbard (c) 2017