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Inside Bay Area: City blooms new Irvington farmers market
  FREMONT Just as peeling an onion reveals layer upon layer, so are more details coming to light about the Irvington farmers market shakeup.
Officials said Tuesday that a farm goods showcase will continue each Sunday on Bay Street at Fremont Boulevard, albeit one run by a different agency from the market operator of the past 13 years.

Carol Anne Painter, redevelopment project manager for the Irvington district, said a deal was inked this month with Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association to take over the tradition from Marin Farmers Market, which will move its bazaar to Newark starting Sunday.

"The market is not moving," Painter said of the Irvington institution. "The operator of the farmers market is changing."

That was unclear last Sunday to many Bay Street shoppers and vendors who saw dairy cow-decorated notices that the Marin Farmers Market was "mooo-ving to NewPark Mall" but would still "boast the same community of family farms" as found in Irvington.

"It's going to make us shop at the mall more," Fremont resident Janine Friend said Sunday on Bay Street, holding several cut sunflowers and a bag of veggies. "But isn't Fremont giving Newark their business?"

That remains to be seen, Painter said.

"A lot of the farmers that were with Marin can come back because they belong to both associations," she said. "Which ones will come back and won't that's a discussion Pacific Coast will have to have with the farmers this week."

Brigitte Moran, executive director for Marin Farmers Market, said about a year of negotiating with Fremont ended this summer,when a notice came from the city's Redevelopment Agency terminating the group's agreement to run the market.

"Money was a little issue, but not a big issue," Moran noted. "We're a nonprofit. We just usually don't pay rent."

Mark Hirsch, a member of the Irvington Business Association's board of directors, said his group had asked the Marin association to help invest in the area but got no cooperation.

"We created the market so the people would come to Irvington on Sundays, when it was dead here. It gave more visibility to us," he said. In turn, he added, "We wanted the market to invest back in the community."

Painter said the city gave the Marin group $55,000 in seed money in 1994 to start up the Bay Street market. Today about 70 vendors take part weekly.

Director John Silveira of the Pacific Coast association, based in Concord, said Monday by news release that the new Irvington market would feature live cooking demonstrations starting Sept. 16, the date the group was scheduled to take over.

Because the Marin association pulled out of its contract early, Painter said the new operator, also a nonprofit, would step in immediately but that the city would ignore the breach-of-contract issue.

Moran said the NewPark Mall market will take place in the parking lot between Macy's and Sears at the same time as the Irvington market, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. She said the new venue would have dedicated restrooms and would have a mobile Starbucks cafe.

Arme Nicolas, a sales rep for Olivera Egg Ranch, said she and other Irvington vendors were baffled by an abrupt announcement Sunday morning that the market would be moving.

Nicolas said the Marin association told her that beautification work would begin almost immediately on Bay Street a notion Moran repeated Monday.

But Painter said Fremont won't start streetscape improvements there until 2009, leaving the street open for food sellers for years.

"Now we know the whole story," Nicolas said, adding that Olivera likely will send workers to the two competing markets this weekend.

"We'll test the waters and see which one works best for us," she said. "Most likely, since we already started at the one in Fremont, we'll probably stay there. But we'll give (both) a try."