It’s Thursday night. Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo is packed with people buying produce and watching street performers. Vegetables vendors are yelling from their booths. Buskers are howling into their microphones. It is a scene, but not a relaxing one.
Approximately 15,000 visitors come to each downtown farmers’ market during the summer months. Attendance drops as the evening weather cools, but the shopping experience can still be elbow-to-elbow.
The good news for local shoppers who just want to buy their produce in peace: there are 11 other farmers’ markets throughout the county every week.
At the Arroyo Grande Farmers’ Market on a recent Saturday after-noon shoppers came and went quickly among the relatively few booths. The market was calm and quiet. One lone musician sang and played a collection of instruments. Most of the booths contained fruits and vegetables; there were relatively few business vendors.
The Morro Bay Farmers’ Market on Thursday is another mellow choice for shoppers looking for a quick and quiet grocery run. “I live in Morro Bay so it’s convenient,” said Cuesta College library circulation assistant Jodi Johnson. “It’s not the biggest but it’s the closest.”
Of course, not everyone goes to farmers’ market just to buy produce. The downtown SLO event draws crowds for a reason. “The market is such a huge piece of SLO culture and gives students a snapshot of what it looks like to buy local, supporting local farmers, businesses and non-profits and the way it brings our community together when we do that,” said Jill Bilich, Thursday Night Promotions Event Coordinator.
Cuesta’s music and psychology double major Ali Demers agrees. “It’s fun, has fresh food, and it’s a great way to find out about businesses in the area,” she said.