Support the farmer’s market; No to NIMBY neighbors

If you build it, they won’t come. Gloomy revisions of the famous
line from Field of Dreams flickered through my mind as I made my
way through the Gilroy Farmer’s Market last weekend. What a
fantastic place, what bright and fresh vegetables, what a great
sense of community: and only a handful of people to enjoy it.
If you build it, they won’t come.

Gloomy revisions of the famous line from Field of Dreams flickered through my mind as I made my way through the Gilroy Farmer’s Market last weekend. What a fantastic place, what bright and fresh vegetables, what a great sense of community: and only a handful of people to enjoy it.

I beg of you readers, all four of you: please put the Farmer’s Market on your calendar for next Sunday and make sure to come. I feel relatively certain that if you attend once you will be motivated to make it part of your weekly schedule. We live here in the heartland of locally-grown produce. People around the country would die to be able to eat an heirloom tomato grown within city limits, and bring home kale that was harvested just hours before. In other words, no preservatives, no refrigeration that changes the chemical composition of your strawberry.

Here’s a few highlights from the visit. Very young (teenaged?) Katie Teresi offers a plum to a customer, who doesn’t know how to react. “It’s a sample,” she says patiently. He’s clearly taken aback. That doesn’t happen at the grocery store. Katie picked all the stone fruit herself at her family’s endeavor, Miramonte Farms and Nurseries in San Juan Bautista.

We sat on hay bales in the shade to listen to a musician playing old Woody Guthrie and Simon and Garfunkel tunes. Perfect speed for the market.

Then wandered over, because how can you not, to the Kettle Corn booth. There Staniel Ferreira served us a small bag of the piping-hot, lightly sweetened corn. I asked him for a bottled water and he opened up a small cooler to hand me one.

“No charge,” he said. “We don’t sell water.” In other words, he had just given me some from his personal stash … and this is a guy tending a hot cauldron, so hot he has to wear safety goggles when he stirs.

That also doesn’t happen at the supermarket. Thanks, Staniel! We got to talking and I learned that he is Portuguese by way of west Africa; he’s only been in the States since 2005. He spent three years in Boston before heading west to the Vallejo/Benicia area where he lives now. Wild to think of the circumstances that led him to stand in a dusty lot in Gilroy, California.

Speaking of lots … there are some beautiful house lots in the Rancho Hills area. There, people can have the convenience of sprawling homes and the illusion of living on the edge of nowhere. It’s been a nice situation for them, but surely they understood that just as their neighborhood was once a field, those other fields would someday be neighborhoods?

Unless if they received written documentation that those fields were dedicated open space that would never be developed, they were simply hoping they’d be lucky and nothing would ever happen. But that doesn’t entitle them to later be angry that something is happening.

I agree with the editorial in the last Friday edition that this is a public information issue.

Years ago I lived on Hanna Street. Suddenly one day bulldozers showed up and started digging up the Brownell side yard – right in front of our view of the foothills. My husband started calling around and finally found someone who would tell him that it was construction of the special education center on the school campus … and the person who told him was appalled that none of the neighbors knew what was going on.

Apparently there had been several changes of staff in the supervisor’s office, and each new supe thought the previous had done the due diligence of informing the neighbors.

Shortly thereafter, everyone on that block got a nice informational packet explaining exactly what was under construction, with a blueprint of the design. Armed with information, we could relax and actually feel good that an important educational center was being built.

The developers at Rancho Hills should and could do the same. They could even emphasize the positive to the neighbors, whatever that may be: will there be new playgrounds, a pool?

The field near Las Animas Elementary, currently used as overflow parking for the Garlic Festival (as well as habitat for owls, prairie dogs and rabbits), will someday be homes. There’s a stretch of Greenfield Drive that currently has a million dollar view of the unsettled hills, dark beautiful silhouettes backlit by the setting sun each night. Maybe the developers there should also start the campaign to remind them that gosh, it’s great, but it’s a limited time offer.

Erika Mailman is eating fresh produce at www.erikamailman.com

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