Volunteers still working to start farmer's market in Oceano

clambert@thetribunenews.comJune 11, 2013 

A sign welcomes drivers to Oceano.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Plans for a farmer’s market in Oceano have not moved as quickly as hoped, but a group of volunteers is still doggedly pursuing the idea.

Since November, a group of about 10 members has been meeting and working on its goal to start a farmer’s market to build a sense of community and attract visitors to the town.

They had hoped to have the market up and running in April. Then the plans pushed back to May. Now, the market might not start until next year, said Mary Lewis, the group’s chair.

At the moment, the group is debating whether to remain a committee under the Oceano Community Services District, or to become an independent organization such as a nonprofit.

“Many of the roadblocks we’ve had are common to working in the public sector,” Lewis said.

The idea for a farmers’ market was initially raised last year during local meetings aimed at creating a revitalization plan for the unincorporated South County community. (A draft of the county’s recently released plan can be viewed at www.slocounty.ca.gov/planning.htm.)

The group envisions the Oceano Community Farmers’ Market as a “welcoming location where farmers, vendors and entertainers can showcase their products while providing everyone with a taste of the heritage and culture of Oceano,” according to its Facebook page.

The tentative plan is to hold the market on Sunday afternoons in the parking lot and lawn area of the Oceano Community Center.

The group has faced a few challenges along the way. In April, county planners held a hearing on their permit request after a county resident raised some concerns about the plan, such as parking. The permit was granted.

More recently, a few people raised questions about whether district funds could be used to support the market.

Though Oceano officials say they’ve received assurances from consultants that they could direct some money to the market’s start-up costs, group members are weighing whether it would be better for them to separate the committee from the services district. That decision is expected next week.

Despite the delays, Lewis remains upbeat about the plans.

“I feel very encouraged with the residents we have been working with,” she said. “They have really stood by each other and supported each other through this. I feel like it’s easy to continue with that inspiration and encouragement.”

For more information or to get involved, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/454119271306860/.

Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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