Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Farmers Market Set to Expand

The Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association (PCFMA) expects to expand its Divisadero Market by one-third in the near future. Dmitrius Spartos, manager of the popular NOPA market at Divisadero and Grove, announced, "We will be expanding, if the city permits it, and the approval looks very good." The new booths -- perhaps as many as a dozen -- will feature speciality and artisanal food, including eggs and cheese. Current plans are to use the present space better rather than to extend further west on Grove to accomodate the expansion.

Dmitrius believes the Divisadero location -- one of seven the PCFMA operates in the city -- is "an up and coming community-based family market." Long-time NOPA residents remember the many discussions over several years about getting a farmers market located in the neighborhood. With persistence and skill, NOPNA helped bring PCFMA to the neighborhood, delivering farm-fresh food to North Panhandle and Alamo Square residents.

For PCFMA, its 55 farmers' markets in seven Bay Area counties serve small farmers by creating "vibrant economic outlets" and benefit neighborhoods by encouraging "vibrant community centers." The organization also strives to educate the public about nutrition and local agriculture.

The Farmers' Markets achieve even more: they illustrate how street space can be re-envisioned to serve various interests of the community. Grove Street at Divis has become a destination on Sundays for relaxing, shopping, and meeting neighbors. The street space adds to NOPA's livability much like the "pavement-to-parks" experiments in street use that the city has undertaken in three locations. The Divisadero, Fillmore, Castro and other markets present a variation on this theme, more like "pavement-to-produce." (For more on the trial locations, see posts on Streetsblog here and here, as well as the city's pavement to parks site here.

Sometimes a new undertaking is only as successful as its manager is diligent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and creative. Dmitrius covers all the bases. He said he's drawn to farmers' markets because "this is most people's most direct way to get healthy foods."

"Food is our # 1 medicine, and a lot of foods at the market are "functional foods" that add medicinal and nutritional properties to our diet," Dmitirius asserts with a certainty that's both friendly and engaging. "Buy fresh and local for the most vitality in what you eat."

Dmitrius tried to sell herbal medicines at farmers' markets on the East Coast, but found the venture difficult. Now he believes the chance to bring healthy food to people allows him a more effective and successful way to emphasize good living through good eating. (He's especially partial to the bitter melon as one of the most potent healthy foods).

When Dmitrius isn't managing three markets (Divis, Kaiser SF, and Kaiser South SF), he plays with his band Agar Agar, "psychedelic/soul/punk." He covers bass and vocals. (Check them out on MySpace). And next time you shop the market, say hello to Dmitrius. (Be sure to let him see your ample purchase of bitter melons!)

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