Seattle has Pike Place Market, London has Borough Market, San Francisco has the Ferry Building and Barcelona has La Boqueria. It’s time San Diego, with its year-round growing season and vibrant food scene, got a public market of its own and you can Kickstart it into being right now!
You might think that the city or county would have established a public market years ago, or that they’d be donating a cool old building or a bunch of money. Sorry, no go. We're going to have to do it ourselves. Dale Steele has been chasing public properties and pitching politicians about a public market here for more than ten years. Civic budgets aren’t looking any brighter and we can’t wait for them any longer.
Catt White lives in San Diego’s food world and she starts and manages neighborhood farmers’ markets. You know her and her team from the Little Italy Mercato and markets in North Park and Pacific Beach.
Together, Dale and Catt are clever, connected, creative and have the cojones, er, chutzpah to bring San Diego the Public Market it deserves. They could use a little help with the cash. That’s where you come in.
They've leased a 92,000 square foot property near the harbor and Petco Park and are transforming more than 2 acres of funky warehouses, cosmetically challenged office buildings and weed-filled open spaces into food halls and plazas. Filling a high-ceilinged former boiler factory with cheese making, salame curing, bread baking, chocolate tempering, coffee roasting artisans; vegetable growing, fruit picking, chicken raising farmers; street food from around the world and some of San Diego's coolest chefs turning out the hottest plates a sophisticated diner could desire.
Hopefully lining the plazas with farmers’ day stalls overflowing with farm fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, chicken and grass fed beef, spiny local sea urchins and line caught fish, and a riot of colorful fresh flowers along with local honey, pastries, sea salts and pastas. Stick around after the market for Farm Family Dinners.
Other days they’ll fill those booths with aspiring local dressmakers and jewelry creators, candle makers and furniture crafters, surfboard shapers and pet portraitists. We’ll host craft beer tastings, clothes swaps, jewelry and koi and succulent shows.
Moving tents out of the way to fill those same plazas with music festivals, movie nights and quinceañeras,chef’s tasting events and art exhibits, and the occasional Chaldean Festival, Chinese New Year’s parade, Filipino fiesta or charity fundraiser. You can get married here, or celebrate your grandma’s 100th birthday.
The duo are converting old office spaces into a commercial kitchen, micro business incubator, and classrooms where kids and parents will learn to cook healthy dishes, chefs can expand their skills, and your special recipe can become your own small business with the help of experts and mentors and commercial cooking equipment. We’ll offer urban agriculture workshops and a farm lab where you’ll learn to plant, compost and harvest, and maybe even to appreciate worms.
Development is already underway. They’re paying rent, weeding, patching walls, painting floors and marking parking spaces. Farmers are planting crops to bring to market. Local chefs and food artisans are touring the property, sketching out menus, and planning the shops they’ll build this winter and open next spring.
They need your help to fund contractors, sign fabricators, equipment purchases and planning department fees (that’s a big one) to keep the project moving at its brisk pace and let the weekly farmers’ markets open in late August. Yes. This month.
In return for your support, they’ve assembled a slate of rewards you’ll find hard to resist, from t-shirts and heirloom seeds to personalized plaques, shopping sprees and parties on the plaza. And that’s on top of the reward of knowing that you helped create the San Diego Public Market, where all kinds of people will come together to shop, eat, learn and celebrate. And to dance.
If you’re familiar with Kickstarter, you know that they don’t get a cent of what’s pledged unless they reach or exceed their goal. So in addition to donating what you can, it’s a huge help if you spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and by emailing your closest friends, co-workers and even that guy you met at Coachella. Heck, put a sign on the lawn. Tell everyone you know to pledge early and pledge often.