By Barbara Kobsar
Forty years ago, as the local food movement was catching fire, a small group of Master Gardeners and horticultural students at Diablo Valley College had an idea: How about bridging the gap between food producers and consumers with a local farmers’ market!
The idea caught on with the community, and the Contra Costa Certified Farmers’ Market Inc. (CCCFM) began operations in 1983 with a market in Pleasant Hill, followed a few months later with a second market set up beside Walnut Creek’s namesake creek in the city’s original library parking lot. Demand for fresh produce couldn’t be contained at the Walnut Creek location, so the market relocated twice, and in 2008 found its permanent home on North Locust Street, where hundreds of shoppers continue to flock every Sunday.
The Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market thrives with ongoing support from the city, vendors, and community members. You’ll still find CCCFM’s original vision of a true farm-to-table movement on display even as day-to-day operations, now overseen by executive director Staci DeShasier, have grown more complex.
A few of the original founders still stroll through the market, pleased to have been part of the longest running market association in Contra Costa County, and hundreds of farms and vendors have participated since the market’s inception. What was once a strictly produce-driven market now embraces the full spectrum with vendors selling meats, fresh flowers, baked goods, pasta, and other prepared foods plus local chefs and coffee brewers fueling shoppers through hours of enjoying the market. Devoto Farms continues to sell apples, Barbagelata continues to offer a full range of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and I continue to source local produce to make and sell my preserves at the Cottage Kitchen Jam Stand.