Woodside farmers' market could return to Skylonda
The Woodside Town Council found a way on Sept. 11 to allow a popular farmers' market to return to Skylonda in a parking lot near the corner of Skyline Boulevard and Highway 84, but residents will have to continue driving down the hill for their fresh fruits and vegetables for at least another few weeks.
The parking lot did host a market on Aug. 1, and nearby artisans and farmers did sell out their seven or eight tables of fresh produce, homemade cheese, sunflowers and other goods.
Residents were looking forward to another one a week later, and another, and another, but town staff discovered that regulations did not allow such markets. The complication resides in the use permit for the two businesses that use the parking lot: the Mountain Terrace, where people celebrate events such as weddings, and Penelope's Den, a craft store. The permit forbids outdoor sales.
Town staff found a category of "food store" operations in the municipal code that could allow the markets to continue, and the council was ready to act, but Town Manager Kevin Bryant noted that the town could not simply ignore the regulation on outdoor sales.
Everyone must therefore wait until the Planning Commission meets, considers and acts on an amendment to the use permit, which the property owner has applied for. Rules governing changes to agendas put any commission action off until its meeting on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3, which puts off another Wednesday farmers' market to the afternoon of Oct. 10.
Residents in support of more markets packed the meeting at Independence Hall.
The market that did come to Skylonda on Aug. 1 has a name — the Mountain Goat Farmers' Market — and a manager, Maggie Foard. "I personally believe a small type farmers' market is the way to go because it's really good for the vendors," Ms. Foard told the council. "I want the vendors to go home without their produce."
One vendor in the room was Julia Harper of Farmageddon, which grows lettuce, kale, eggs, apples and pears in Davenport. "We had such a great time and the community was so supportive of us," Ms. Harper said. "It was like a kick in the teeth when, like, 'Sorry, you can't do this anymore.'"
Virginia Dare, who lives on Old La Honda Road, was one of many residents volunteers who helped update the town's general plan. Farmers' markets came up at least once when the volunteers were discussing "the way we want to live now and the way we want to live in the future."
"There is a community up there that needs (great food)," Ms. Dare said. "There is a large community on the other side of the mountain that makes great food. They do great things. We would like to buy their great things."
"It doesn't just have to be up there," she added. "Couldn't we have one down here?"