Farmers market set for Balboa Peninsula

NEWPORT BEACH — A certified farmers market is coming to Lido Marina Village on Sunday.

The hope is that the market, located in the shopping center on the northern end of the Peninsula, will pump more life into the promenade, a rustic-looking, cobble-stoned, open-air quarter dotted with shops and businesses.

The market will feature a dozen farmers selling fruits and vegetables and is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. and close at 1 p.m. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m.

City and Chamber of Commerce officials are expected to be on hand for the big day. Posters around town have been promoting the event for several weeks, displaying a fat red tomato.

Mark Anderson, the market's manager, said there will be produce from around Southern California, as well as fresh fish, humus, spicy dips, fresh flowers and a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine.

As the market matures, Anderson said he hopes to add more vendors to the mix.

"A farmers market is always a work in progress," said Anderson, who lives in Santa Monica, runs the Playa Vista farmers market and is a former hydroponic tomato and cucumber grower. "I hope we can add much more as the season progresses and as the summer turns to fall and the fall to winter."

The stone fruits — that's to say, the peaches, apricots and plums — will come from the Central Valley.

Anderson said the success of a market generally depends heavily on the number of local farmers interested in hauling their produce and setting up shop.

Paradise Valley Ranch in Valley Center and McGrath Farms in Camarillo are just a few of the vendors that plan to show up to the promenade area, which is a block north of the Lido Theatre and the Starbucks popular with nearby City Hall workers.

Anderson approached the city with the idea of bringing a farmers market to the Lido area, and the city signed off on it. A one-year operating lease was granted to the Sprouts of Promise Foundation, which operates the Playa Vista market on the westside of Los Angeles.

The city has allowed a certified farmers market to operate for 14 years on Saturdays in Corona del Mar.

Tara Finnigan, a spokeswoman for the city, said the CdM market has been successful.

But bringing about a successful farmers market on Balboa Peninsula has always been an uphill battle due to a lack of parking, said Anderson, who's done his homework on the matter.

"There was a market back in 2001, near the Newport Pier, in the McFadden Square region, but that died due to a lack of parking," he said.

But the good news is there will be a parking structure near this farmers market, Anderson said.

Katie Bowden, a city planner who works in the economic development division, said the Balboa Peninsula does plenty of "seasonal business" built around fluctuations in tourism.

But the market, she said, "might bring us visitors year round."

"It will be a plus," she said.

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