Downtown SLO Farmers Market adds vendors, expands to Chorro Street

The Thursday night Downtown SLO Farmers Market
The Thursday night Downtown SLO Farmers Market The Tribune

A handful of new farmers with products including cured meats, fresh rabbit, cheese and fish will join the Thursday night Downtown SLO Farmers Market beginning June 2 and stay at least through September. They’ll be located on Chorro Street, just off Higuera Street.

The change is part of a broader initiative to expand the popular downtown event to include a concert series, beer and wine tasting and a wider variety of goods, according to San Luis Obispo Downtown Association Executive Director Dominic Tartaglia.

More than 100 vendors now sell fresh produce, flowers, barbecue, seasonal treats and other items from 6 to 9 p.m. every Thursday year-round, except on Thanksgiving Day or when it’s raining.

The market is managed by the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association, and farmers’ sales are managed by the San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association. The addition of new farmers was made possible by support from Heritage Oaks Bank.

New additions beginning June 2 are local beef, cooking demos and barbecue samples from Hearst Ranch, seasonally caught fish from Jo Oliver of the Morro Bay Fishermen’s Association; poultry and eggs from BeeWench Farm; fresh local rabbit from Sage Rabbitry; cured meats from Alle-Pia Fine Cured Meats; a selection of grains from Ancient Grains; and cheese from Chateau Fresno Organics.

Yogurt from Farm Girl Creamery and mushrooms from Branden’s Gourmet Mushrooms will be available beginning in July.

Hearst Ranch and Sage Rabbitry are the only two farmers new to the San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association; the others are currently involved, or have been before, in the association’s markets. The San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association operates five markets around the county.

The new farmers will be grouped together on Chorro Street, with the Palazzo Giuseppe’s food stand and pizza oven and an entertainer — likely a musician — at the end of the street, Tartaglia said.

“It was identifying people that we’d like to bring in, and then, well, why don’t we put them all together,” said Peter Jankay, executive director of San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association.

The new farmers will join the market through September, at which point the San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association and the farmers will discuss and re-evaluate how it’s gone.

“At this point, we’re going to give this a good try, and if it really works out well then certainly we’ll work with the Downtown Association to try other things,” Jankay said.

Annual sales from farmers at the Thursday Downtown SLO Farmers Market were $679,359 last year, up 4.7 percent from 2014 annual sales of $648,645, Jankay said.

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