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At the Temescal Farmers Market

A few weeks ago, I reached out to several local food writers and tastemakers and asked them to test out the cart at their local markets. The help and advice from local experts and farmers market pros was the next step in getting the design right, but also to test out the cart in different environments. As you'll read below, this was extremely valuable at Temescal.

I received several responses, some very enthusiastic, and made connections to put the cart into expert's hands. By way of introduction from Cheryl at Edible East Bay, the first person market pro to try the cart was Peggy Kass of Kassenhoff Growers in Oakland. Peggy and her partner Helen run a nursery and they shop at farmers markets regularly. In fact, Peggy is a 'shopalizer', or one who shops AND socializes because so many of her friends are part of, or connected to, the market. Their weekly haul is a sizable amount since so much of their food, especially produce, comes from the market. Their current cart is falling apart and Peggy was excited to try our market cart.

After a few intro phone calls and email exchanges, I dropped off the cart at their house the day before market day. We had a lot to talk about, and I gave her a demo of the cart as well. She and Helen were full of ideas, too, and before I left the cart even had a name, "Carlotta".

It was a bit scary leaving the cart in someone else's hands, but I knew Peggy was going to take great care of it and be an excellent tester. Little did I know that so much valuable info would come from her trip the next day. After the market I received an email with a very thorough report, most of it positive. One huge caveat was a broken handle! Unfortunately when pulling the fully loaded cart up a curb, the handle snapped at the pin hinge and it took a topple on the sidewalk. Peggy was unharmed and all the food survived - even the eggs - which is the most important thing.

woman with wooden farmers market cart and produce in temescal, oakland

As I said above, this is extremely helpful. One, I had never had an issue with the handle. Two, I loaded a heavy cart but Peggy's haul was even more than mine. Three, I hadn't pulled it up a steep curb. Four, Peggy was a perfect real-world tester. Her use of the cart was different than mine and in the end, I'm super glad she strength tested the handle and broke it.

And for some even better news, Peggy talked to dozens of people about the cart, including the market manager and director of the Urban Village Farmers Market Association that runs Temescal and nine other Bay Area markets. They were both very interested and I look forward to hearing their ideas and how we can promote the cart along with the market managers and market associations.

Given a great first trip in Oakland, I am inspired by this quote from the Temescal District website:

What many do not always realize is that our markets have also served as an incubator for so many of Oakland’s small business entrepreneurs and artists for the last 20+ years including Temescal favorites, Bakesale Betty, Cholita Linda, and Curbside creamery. From the inception of Blue Bottle Coffee to Blue Chair Jams, our farmers’ markets have been the birthplace and professional training wheels of so many local bakers, makers, and artists.

The next day I picked up the cart and we exchanged more ideas and inspected the damage. I thanked Peggy profusely, gave her some delicious Smit Farms Blenheim Apricot Jam from my local market, and offered to give Peggy an early production cart when they are ready. Peggy, if you are reading this, thank you. You are amazing! Check them out at Kassenhoff Growers.

I spent the next few days repairing the cart for another trip that I'll write about soon. Cheers!

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