Live Oak market brings energy without the large crowds
Locals know the Live Oak Farmers Market as a neighborhood staple. Organizers know it as one of the largest and oldest in its lineup. Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market started the Live Oak location in 2000. Surrounded by residential homes, local grocery stores and other small businesses, the market has taken on the suburban vibe of the area.
The Live Oak market features roughly 38 vendors, with 20 to 25 of them being farmers. Unlike the downtown market which can see thousands of people in any given day, the Live Oak market few people. Despite that, it still has a bustle and buzz about it that keep shoppers on their toes. Tables and chairs at the market always have someone occupying them or waiting to sit down.
“Every market takes on the personality or the certain feeling because of the neighborhood it’s tucked into,” said Nicole Zahm, education and events coordinator for Community Farmers’ Market.
Outside of farmers, Live Oak also features a fish vendor, coffee and a pottery collective. Organizers like to rotate through food artisans and vendors, Zahm said.
The market and its location is one of the more self-sustaining ones. Zahm said that while some of the other markets need more thought to keep it energized, the Live Oak location hit its stride five years ago. It has its regulars and is consistently busy each Sunday during its year-round run.
With the Live Oak market, the feeling is very much community and family. Set up in an oval as opposed to rows of booths, shoppers can survey the market from the center of the circle. In the heart of the market is always a musical performance.
Local musician Paul Rangell arranges the musical performances for the venue, sometimes performing themselves. The genres heard at the market can vary from old time Americana to Spanish to blue grass to local bands with members that grew up in Santa Cruz County.
Shoppers who come to the market can expect a mix of farm goods, baked delights, seafood, organic meats and other staples.
One of the latest additions to the market is beer tasting with beer to go available. Recently partnering with New Bohemia Brewing Co. out of the Pleasure Point neighborhood, attendees can sample beers that they can buy and take home.
The market also allows CalFresh food stamp cards. By accepting it, the market allows people on food stamps to use the funds at the market. To encourage more people to use food stamps, the market sometimes incentivizes them with a match program of up to $10.