Preserve the farmers’ market

Help keep this downtown event and service from being evicted

The author is a former Chico mayor (1983-85) and city councilmember. He currently serves on the Airport Commission.

The nearly 100-strong farmers and artisans who have built the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market will be evicted next year, a pawn of the City Hall bosses.

Downtown since 1980, the farmers, often working in rain or blistery heat, have created a thriving Saturday farmers’ market at Second and Wall streets. Offering locally grown, healthful food at our downtown gateway, they are Chico’s human face of sustainability.

Last year, the farmers were encouraged by the city of Chico to make modest improvements: bathrooms to replace porta-potties, electricity and signage. The farmers offered to pay for it all. Two months ago their plan was supported by three City Council members, but lost on a tie vote. A fourth councilmember, Ann Schwab, has a downtown bicycle store, which silences her vote and voice. With her vote, the changes would have passed, the market would have been preserved.

Then three weeks ago, literally at the 15th hour during the all-day City Council meeting, the franchise agreement was terminated effective next year.

I know the farmers will fight the eviction. The people of Chico will support them. First, they should reject a committee packed with opponents with one purpose in mind: eviction. Instead of a “U-Haul” committee, the market can form its own citizens’ committee and tell the uncomfortable facts any town would envy: 12,000 shoppers attend the market each month and spill over into the downtown to the delight of retailers and restaurants.

The downtown Chico Saturday farmers’ market aspires to be the best year-round farmers’ market in Northern California, with amenities such as photovoltaic solar roof panels, additional space for a more comfortable experience for all, dozens of new parking spaces with diagonal parking on Flume and First streets. And yes, bathrooms—it is sad to see the elderly, or a pregnant woman with a 3-year-old child in tow, struggle to get into a porta-potty.

The best way to show your support for the market at is to shop there every Saturday morning and let our local farmers know you’re on their side. If you would like to be on our email list or volunteer, please email the

If the city bosses won’t support the farmers, the voters will. A market is a partnership between buyers and sellers. United they will not be moved.