Permanent farmers’ market could yield job opportunities for students

Lily Baldwin

A new permanent farmers’ market at the Marin Civic Center will give vendors the chance to sell their local products seven days a week in a covered Market Hall. The market will open once fundraising of at least $20 million is completed by the Agricultural Institute of Marin.

The market will be constructed on a vacant five-acre lot at the Marin Civic Center, and will include a Market Hall that accommodates 245 vendor stalls, a butcher, dairy, restaurant, cafe and more. The current San Rafael farmers’ market is limited to Thursday and Sunday mornings every week at the Marin Civic Center.

The permanent market will also give high school students additional chances to find jobs with its vendors. Many students currently work with vendors on Sunday mornings to make money, according to the CEO of the Agricultural Institute of Marin Brigitte Moran.  

The San Rafael farmers market on a busy Sunday morning.
The San Rafael farmers market on a busy Sunday morning.

One such student is Redwood senior Kate Garrison, who has been working at the San Rafael farmers’ market on Sundays for two years. Garrison works with Gabriel Farms, a vendor out of Sebastopol that sells apples and Asian pears.

Garrison found work with Gabriel Farms through family friends who needed help working at the market. She passes out samples and greets customers who pass by.

“It’s hard because you have to deal with all the customers, but I like it because I meet a lot of really cool people,” Garrison said.

Garrison said she thinks the new Market Hall will not only be good for vendors but also for customers, who will have seven days a week of access to local products, rain or shine.

“I think that would be really nice because when it gets hot or when it’s raining no one really wants to come [to the outdoor market],” Garrison said.

Vendors like Gabriel Farms, who sell their produce twice a week at the farmer’s market, will be permanent residents once the Market Hall is built. More workers will be needed to accommodate for the expanded hours of work, and many vendors taking part in the Hall will need to hire, according to Moran.

Kendra Kolling, owner of the Farmer’s Wife, a sandwich stand and catering business, looks forward to participating in the market. She hopes to serve up her sandwiches for the shoppers and run the Market Hall cafe seven days a week.

“I’ve built my business in Marin, so it makes perfect sense that I would make my home base in Marin County. This is where it all started. I feel very connected here,” Kolling said.

However, Kolling, whose business has been growing in popularity since she began serving at events such as Outside Lands and Bottlerock, hasn’t settled into a permanent place to cook and serve her food.

“I always get asked, ‘When are you going to own a place?’ I have customers all the way from the East Bay coming here and stopping in for a sandwich,” Kolling said. “I have realtors offering places all the time, but I’m waiting for a food-centric place where they offer good, local food, like the new Market Hall.”

Kolling also finds herself in need of help as her business expands and the prospect of the Market Hall starts to solidify. She said she often looks to hire young people and students.

“My son and his friends from high school have always worked by my side, but they’re in college now. It makes sense to hire local kids. They’re young and strong, they don’t have a mortgage to pay for, so it’s a really good side job for high schoolers,” Kolling said.

This is the case for many other vendors at the farmers’ market, Kolling added. She would love the help of students who are interested in working a part time job as she is short on workers.

For now, the project still has a long way to go before construction.

“We’re fundraising right now. We need 20 million dollars to support the construction of everything. So far, we have two million,” Moran said.

While this is only the beginning of a long journey towards this substantial addition to the county, Moran is excited and passionate about what a permanent farmers’ market will bring to the people of Marin.

Looking proudly over the bustling market from her favorite overview spot, Moran added,

“This market is like a bee hive. We’re all bees and this is where we get our nectar.”