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The City Journals

Salt Lake Farmers Market transforms downtown

Jun 18, 2018 01:56PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Managers at the Orem-based Wilkerson Farm explain the benefits of home grown organic food to visitors at their booth at the annual Farmers Market. (Lana Medina/City Journals)

By Lana Medina | [email protected]

The Salt Lake Farmers Market kicked off with its 27th season in June — filling up nearly every square inch of Pioneer Park with vendors and visitors.

“It started with 10 vendors right here on 300 South, and now it’s up to 300,” said Salt Lake Farmers Market Manager Alison Einerson. “There’s everything from farms to food vendors to arts and crafts.”

Unlike the average farmer’s market, the downtown market wasn’t just organized to sell locally produced food and crafts. Einerson says one of the main goals was to help transform the downtown area surrounding Pioneer Park away from the criminal element and introduce positive change.

“Thanks to the Farmers Market, we have a lot of permanent restaurants and more residents; it has made this area a food destination,” Einerson said.

Visitors have noticed the change too.

Nicole, a mom from Syracuse, said she visits the Farmers Market every year and is excited to find everything from produce, to bath salts, to homemade custom gifts. But what’s amazing is how just for one day a week, Pioneer Park is transformed.

“Last night there’s a shooting in this area, but then today, there’s this,” Nicole said, gesturing at the crowds filling Pioneer Park. 

Nicole watched her son play on the playground — an area that is normally filled with the homeless population during the summer months. 

It’s a welcome change to visitors and to vendors alike. The downtown market has steadily grown over the last 27 years but is now completely filled with vendors’ stalls.

Vendors come from far and wide to the Salt Lake Farmers Market every year. 

McKenzie Musser, who is assisting one of the vendors, Proof Pawsitive, this year, says she was first introduced to the annual downtown market a few years ago when she moved to Salt Lake City.

“I’m from Pleasant Grove. When I first moved here and my friend took me to this (Farmers Market), I was amazed by all the local shops,” she said. “Once I started coming here, I stopped going to the grocery stores.”

During one of her trips to the Farmers Market, Musser was introduced to Proof Pawsitive, a local company that creates handmade dog food and treats. Musser became convinced of the benefits to her own dog and is now helping spread the word about Proof Pawsitive to visitors at the Farmer’s Market.

The Downtown Farmers Market is spreading the word about some positive changes of its own. Organizers say there are more environmentally friendly features coming to the annual market. Officials have banned plastic bags have been banned, and Select Health sponsored a free Green Bike day at the market in June.

For several vendors, the Downtown Farmers Market isn’t just about selling, it’s about education.

Ariana Fuller, a manager at Wilkerson Farm in Orem, says they sell organic produce at the market every year, but one of the most important things is educating people about the value of local, homegrown organic food.

“When we grow our own food, we understand the importance of the Earth and what it does for us,” Fuller said.

The Downtown Farmers Market will continue every Saturday through the summer until Oct. 20 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. In August and September, there will be a special Tuesday night market from 4 p.m. to dusk. 

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