You may have heard that the Thursday evening Downtown Farmers Market is no more, but not to worry. There are two new seasonal markets that will ensure that the community has ample opportunities to stock up on delicious, nutritious local summer produce.

In an email to consumers from the Visalia Farmers Market Association (VFMA), several factors were cited for the decision to discontinue the evening market and offer alternatives to better serve the community. These included decreasing attendance and produce sales and – most importantly – the excessive evening heat and challenging air quality that made it virtually impossible to be outside for extended periods of time.

Observation of the area’s morning farmers markets shows that those shoppers tend to be “regulars” who intend to purchase produce. Attendees at the evening market were there primarily to enjoy the atmosphere, entertainment and prepared foods, rather than to shop with vendors. 

Shop the Kaweah Delta Market on Tuesdays from 8-11:30 a.m., running May 14 through Aug. 13 at the Kaweah Delta Campus on Akers Street at Tulare Avenue. A partnership between the Visalia Farmers Market and Kaweah Delta Health Care, the market will offer children’s events by ImagineU, and health screenings and information facilitated by a different Kaweah Delta department each week. A blood drive will also be scheduled.

Shop the Farmers Market at the Old Lumberyard, 300 E. Oak Ave., from 8-11:30 a.m. Thursdays from June 6 through 27. Part of the Arts Consortium space, the new location will offer shade in an urban-multicultural atmosphere, and focus on health, with a fitness class or demo (such as Zumba or yoga) each week.

Senior shoppers were a consideration in finding a new location in the downtown area. As the major group that specifically attended the Downtown Market to shop for produce, many have limited transportation and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. So it was important to secure a location that remained close by. Within easy walking distance from two downtown senior living facilities and the senior center, the Old Lumberyard fit the bill. There, seniors will be able to obtain and use Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (Senior FMNP) vouchers; WIC and EBT will also be accepted there and at all other farmers markets in the area.

Owners of the more than 50 farms that are part of the VFMA are excited about the two new markets. The hope is that they will increase summer access to more people, resulting in higher sales of fresh local produce, and increased awareness about healthy eating and getting and staying in good physical condition.

The weekly main market on Saturday mornings at Caldwell Avenue and Mooney Boulevard and seasonal markets in Porterville remain in place.