Overland & Pico, Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
By Brianna Kwasnik
Any proponent of farmer’s markets will tell you that there can never be too many farmer’s markets and with the recent opening of Overland Avenue Farmer’s Market, lovers of fresh produce on the Westside have something to look forward to.
The Overland Farmer’s Market was officially welcomed into the community with open arms in soft-opening in mid-July and a grand opening on August 26. The market located behind Chase Bank on Overland at Pico is open every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Rick Hernandez, a local resident, initially thought of the idea to bring a farmer’s market to this location about five years ago. However, due to disagreements with his then business partner about the location, he sat on the idea.
At the time, Hernandez said he kept saying he believed the location was a good centralized area and would be good for the community, but he got too much static to be able to move forward with any concrete plan.
Years later, when Hernandez was on his own, the idea of a farmer’s market was still in his mind. He attended a Westside Neighborhood Council meeting and presented his idea about bringing a farmer’s market to the neighborhood. The council was immediately on-board and willing to partner with him.
“It gives you a great feeling, that I put the market there and I got that reaction,” Hernandez said. “[I] couldn’t have a better partner than that [Westside Neighborhood Council], they do a lot for the market in the sense of networking”
Westside Neighborhood Council member, and president of the Overland Avenue Community HOA, Lisa Morocco said, “there have been markets all around us: Santa Monica, Palms, Westwood, where the area we’re in, which is really called Rancho Park, has always been forgotten, so what’s special is that we got our own thing.”
While Morocco said 90 percent of the community was excited about the farmer’s market, there were some concerns about possible noise, traffic, or trash in the area. Since the opening, none of these issues have presented a problem, and on the day of the ribbon cutting, everyone was very happy, she said.
The ribbon cutting took place on August 19, with Councilmember Paul Koretz present to do the honors.
Morocco has been posting her weekly market haul on the social networking service, Nextdoor, to get her neighbors excited about the market. She says the BBQ stand is a must-try.
“Go to the BBQ guy and ask for burnt ends, you’ll cry!” she exclaimed.
Hernandez has put careful thought into ensuring this community market was centered around the community. He offers local vendors an opportunity to set up a tent and advertise their business for free once a month.
“I’ve been a vendor, I’ve been an owner,” he said, “I know sometimes how hard it is, sometimes you don’t make anything, but you still have to pay the rent.”
At the market, Hernandez has set up tables under a canopy, where people in the community sit to eat breakfast, lunch, or to chat with their neighbors. A jumper is set up nearby and offered free for the children, something he said the children in the community had begun to look forward to every week.
“It’s like a big block party,” he said.
The seating gives neighbors the chance to meet people who may live on the same block as them and they have seen before, but never gotten the chance to interact with.
Morocco said the market has become an informal town center for the community to meet discuss the news and chat.
Hernandez said the market will have events in place for the community during the holiday season. Both Hernandez and Morocco encourage the community to support the local vendors.
“The market will be here as long as they [the community] want it,” Hernandez said.