Rain or shine Saturday, Bakersfield will have another farmers market. With three thriving weekend markets, the Market on the Hill has its eye on an otherwise untapped area: northeast Bakersfield.
This market is the latest collaboration between Kaiser Pemanente and The Hen's Roost, which already team on the Haggin Oaks market on Sundays at the Kaiser offices near The Marketplace. The new market will spread out in the parking lot at the Kaiser on Mall View Road, near the Highway 178 exit for Oswell Street.
"We’ve always really wanted to have a market on the eastside and serve that community and the diversity in that community," said Kristin Weber, Kaiser community benefit manager and market liaison. "We’ve not been able to cater to folks who don't have good access to fresh healthy produce."
Weber has been working with Jaclyn Allen, who operates The Hen's Roost, on making this happen.
Allen is excited by the northeast market buzz that's cropped up on social media and the existing markets — she also runs a Saturday market off Brimhall Road — since the announcement earlier this month.
"I think everyone out here is talking," Allen said, noting she was delivering promotional signs to businesses in the area. "People are just excited, saying 'please don’t give up too soon.'"
The market will build in two phases, Allen said, with the first rollout consisting of 20 to 25 vendors. Those who were on board as of press time include Baker's Outpost, Rig City Roasting Co., plant-based chefs We Be Grubbin, Milan's Market wood-fired pizza, Martin's Meats and Pickalittle Farm.
Allen said that other new and existing vendors are likely to be on board later this week or within the next month. But there will be plenty to eat and take home on Saturday, she said.
"It's going to be a full market. What people aren't even going to know is that's not even the full potential of it. It's just the first phase."
The next phase will involve community engagement with the schools and groups that serve the eastside.
"We’re going to really try to make this market a vehicle for that," Baker said. "We'll engage with (Bakersfield College) and their culinary arts department, surrounding high schools and their FFA programs. Much like with CSUB and the Haggin Oaks market, the vendors can supply them with produce."
"As time goes on, we have activities to connect people in the community," Allen said.
She said they want the market to provide an access point for those who are totally committed to promoting healthier eating, knowing where your food comes from and other health issues.
"We are people who are fighting for the same causes," Allen said.
But to begin, it's about getting people out to the market, shopping, eating and spreading the word, weather notwithstanding.
Allen said, "I'm pretty optimistic, a 'glass is half full' kind of gal. Even with the rain, they're going to come out. The eastside is hungry for it."
Baker agrees and thinks this market will clearly earn its place on the local farmers market map.
"I said, 'You know, Jaclyn, it’s going to be bigger than Haggin Oaks.'"
"If anyone can make that happen, it’s her."