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City to weigh duplicate farmers market requests in downtown Turlock
Farmers Market 6
The Golden State Farmers Market Association submitted a street closure request to the City of Turlock to hold a year-round farmers market that would overlap the same times, dates and location of the Turlock Certified Farmers Market. - photo by Journal file photo

While Turlock has grown accustomed to welcoming events that draw its community to the downtown core, a street closure request from the Golden State Farmers Market Association to start a year-round market has caused some controversy – as it conflicts with the current location, dates and time of the existing Turlock Certified Farmers Market.

Golden State Association managing member and farmer Peter Cipponeri said that he did not wish to comment on specific details regarding his proposal, including why he decided to submit a street closure request identical to the Turlock Farmers Market, at this time.

 “My family’s fruit stand has been operating for over 25 years, providing Turlock with fresh and local produce and now it’s my turn to give to the community and continue our family legacy,” said Cipponeri. “My wife and I look forward to bringing our energy to the Turlock Farmers Market and we believe we can offer something that is sustainable.

“We could not think of a better way to give to the community and support local business,” continued Cipponeri.

While Cipponeri is hoping to start a new farmers market in Turlock, the current farmers market is hoping to continue the one it has already established as it took to its Facebook page on Thursday to ask for the community’s support at the upcoming Turlock City Council meeting.

“We are the grassroots market that started from the community,” said TCFM Manager Derek Griffin. “I just encourage everyone to come out and support us, that’s all.”

While Griffin said he did not want to comment on the specific proposal, he noted that unlike the existing TCFM, Cipponeri currently does not have nonprofit status. 

“Being that the other entity does not have a nonprofit status, the market will then be taken over by the City, because in the State of California only two entities can run a farmers market—one being a nonprofit, the other being city governance,” said Griffin.

Over the last five years, TCFM has been the community’s “source for delicious seasonal produce, fresh food highlighting local ingredients and unique hand-crafted items” in the downtown core.

Following its steady growth and establishment within the community over the past five years, TCFM recently evolved from a Friday market to a Saturday market, operating between May and October each year.

The City noted that this type of activity has been a welcome addition to the community and has enhanced the appeal of downtown Turlock to residents and visitors alike. Concurrently, the downtown core has experienced a resurgence with the opening of many new dining and retail establishments, which makes it a highly sought after venue for special events and activities.

Prior to City staff receiving the street closure request from Cipponeri, it did not anticipate the possibility of more than one group wanting to host a farmers market. As a result, Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder said that staff will seek direction from City Council as how to handle this situation.

In researching other municipal policies, Van Guilder found that there are different approaches to this type of issue. Farmers markets in particular have either been approved on a “first come, first served” basis, or through a Request for Proposal process that creates the opportunity for competition and enhanced accountability. Other communities have also chosen to operate more than one market; however, this action is generally used in much larger cities.

“A ‘first come, first served’ basis, which is where we find ourselves currently, is very black and white and does not take into consideration the capabilities of the applicant or the impacts to the community,” said Van Guilder. “The RFP process would allow the City to evaluate events based on qualifications and value presented by the applicant.

“Multiple markets would require coordination between groups to avoid saturation,” continued Van Guilder.

Van Guilder said that she does not anticipate any final decisions on the matter to take place during Tuesday’s meeting. A timeline for the issue being resolved is dependent on the direction staff receives from the Council.

“While the issue at hand involves the farmers market, the ultimate goal will be to start a conversation on how Council would like staff to respond to all special events occurring on public property, in general,” said Van Guilder.

The City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.