EAST HOLLYWOOD—Nearly everyone knows about the widely acclaimed Hollywood Farmers Market. Far fewer know that the East Hollywood Farmers Market, a mile to the east at Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, even exists. Or did exist.
The Thursday market’s visibility hasn’t been helped by the fact that it was last open the week before Christmas. What was supposed to be a two-week holiday hiatus has dragged on due to funding challenges.
But according to organizers—the Hollywood-based Thai Community Development Center (CDC)—the market will stage a comeback starting March 13th.
Yet to keep selling fresh veggies to residents and transit hoppers at Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, market officials are currently seeking nearly $5,000 in donated funds.
To meet that goal, the Thai CDC is asking four local neighborhood councils for $1,000 each. The nonprofit says Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s CD 13 office has agreed to pledge the final $1,000 if the local councils all pitch in.
The East Hollywood Farmers Market was originally envisioned as part of a larger effort by Thai CDC to revitalize Thai Town and make it into a cultural tourism destination, according to Bo Sivanunsakul, a director with the non-profit.
In addition to revitalizing the farmer’s market, the organization has been hatching the “Thai Town Marketplace” since 2006 and Sivanunsakul said construction should begin this spring for a planned September opening, pending approval from the Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety.
The Marketplace, described as similar to the popular Mercado La Paloma near USC, would feature a dozen indoor food vendors and a half-dozen outdoor retail kiosks above the metro station at Hollywood and Western.
The nonprofit intended to open the farmers market and “Thai Town Marketplace” simultaneously, Sivanunsakul said, but delays in getting the marketplace approved resulted in the farmers market opening first, in April 2012. When the indoor marketplace opens this fall, Thai CDC expects the indoor food stalls and outdoor market will draw a critical mass of customers that sustain both.
The farmers market is designed to serve a primarily low-income demographic of local residents and transit riders to the Hollywood/Western Red Line metro plaza in March, despite past issues with unruly plaza loiterers. Thai CDC received nearly $58,000 in a one-year grant from the USDA in 2011 to plan and open the market that offers healthy food for low-income residents of the neighborhood and will accept EBT and other welfare credits.
Sivanunsakul said the small market typically featured six or seven small farmers and catered to 300 to 400 customers on an average day. Certified vendors such as Buenrostro Farms and New Era Farms sell only fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies that they grow. In addition to the veggie stands, the market teamed with local community organizations such as the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture in Los Feliz to offer health and welfare services to visitors.
The focus is on serving residents in need of healthy food rather than making a profit, Sivanunsakul said. “That’s why we decided to do it in East Hollywood.”
Representatives from Thai CDC approached the four neighborhood councils in the area in late January and February and remain hopeful each will support the market when local councils put to it a vote. The funds would cover the staff required to manage the market weekly.
Sivanunsakul is optimistic that local councils will be willing to help subsidize the market until the Thai Town Marketplace opens and more shoppers converge on the area.
“We don’t want to be the only entity supporting this market,” she said.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Note: You must include your first and last name in your user name in order for comments to appear.