The sun broke through rain clouds just in time for the season opening of Main Plaza’s weekly farmers market. Though small when compared to the Pearl Farmers Market or the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market, this market also provides prepared food for downtown workers on lunch break from the surrounding city, county, and private business establishments. By noon, booths are bustling with activity; smoothies, fresh produce, homemade soap, olive oil, fish tacos and live cooking demonstrations from local chefs.
“It’s taken us four years to really get the word out,” said Matthew Molpus of the SA Food Bank. “It helps (to be surrounded by) about 20,000 city and county workers.”
Including District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal, who stopped by for a brief opening announcement and has many personal and professional reasons to promote healthy eating/living in San Antonio. Earlier this year, Bernal agreed to set an example for fellow citizens by becoming a Resolution Leader for SA2020’s healthy living initiative. That means at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and eight glasses of water per day.
“Availability and access to good food can change people’s lives,” he said, explaining that he has seen the dramatic results of a simple change in diet to combat diabetes in close friends and family. “I’m a convert.”
Through events like this, Main Plaza demonstrates its dedication to create a space for residents, workers and tourists to mingle and enjoy alike. Families smell handmade soaps from Soapmarked, pick out hydroponically-grown spring mix from LocalSprout, learn the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil from Salud de Paloma, and listen to Ponciano Seoane III serenade the plaza with acoustic covers of pop-music songs. Fish tacos, fresh from SA Food Bank’s Catalyst Catering, filled the bellies of both curious passersby and locals on a grocery errand. It’s hard not to see Main Plaza as the “urban oasis” MPC Executive Director Jane Pauley-Flores and her team have been shooting for.
Between the blender buzz of strawberry-banana smoothies, “Juice Master” Elias Carofilis of The Lemonade Company said he’s excited to be a part of San Antonio’s transformation into a healthy, vibrant city.
“I’m in the middle of the hurricane,” he said of the city’s growth. More than just a lemonade stand, his company caters smoothie bars and cocktail parties all over San Antonio, is represented at most farmers markets in the city and has brick-and-mortar plans for the future.
This farmers market isn’t the most profitable endeavor, Carofilis said, “But the Quarry (market) is profitable, this is more about community.”
The SA Food Bank is also participating in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Food stamps can be used to buy the produce SA Food Bank sells at the market, which is grown in its community gardens.