Thank you to everyone who weighted in on our survey on possible locations for a Farmer's Market ! We had a huge response and will focus our efforts on further exploring the top three locations: a Rose Garden location, a Lincoln High School location, and a Cahill Park weeknight location. Finally, please remember that starting a new farmer's market is a big investment of time and effort and will not happen overnight.
There have been at least two instances in recent years of a spring-summer farmer's market closing down in the Shasta/Hanchett Park neighborhood because the farmers did not make enough revenue from the number of customers who went to it. S/HPNA's Board believes a farmer's market can in fact succeed in Midtown San Jose and asked neighbors for their input in assessing appealing locations by conducting a survey. Among 9 locations, respondents evaluated which one(s) they would be most likely to frequent and could indicate their reasoning. They could also suggest alternative locations.
The survey was widely distributed over social media (NextDoor Greater Rose Garden and 15 nearby neighborhoods providing coverage over the area enclosed by 880-280-87 freeways) as well as in Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager's monthly newsletter. It was also sent out to more S/HPNA-centric groups (SHPNA facebook page, the SHPNA_Talk email group). We received 299 responses. This provides us with a good sample of preferences in the area.
Highest Net Support
With a survey that measures the farmer's market that one is most as well as least likely to visit, we can calculate a "net promotor" score that measures support and lack thereof simultaneously. The two locations with a positive score were the Parking lot across from Lincoln High School and the Rose Garden location.
Most Number 1 Votes
The Parking lot across from Lincoln High School had by far the overall highest number of votes for most likely to visit with 106, followed by both the Rose Garden location with 68 and Cahill Park with 64.
The least popular location was the Business Circle location at Bascom and West San Carlos. One could suspect many folks in our neighborhood are aware of, and turned off by, the current state of this location, and therefore at present we do not recommend to continue exploring this location. The parking lot next to Art Works received the second fewest number one votes.
Cahill Park as a Weeknight location
We noticed a disproportionately high number of comments in support of the Cahill Park location, mentioning its proximity to Diridon Station and to the highest density of housing in our neighborhoods. We should also be open to a location on the other side of Diridon, in the plaza in front of the station. Since Diridon Station is home to Caltrain, which is primarily a commuter train, there is a tremendous amount of foot traffic through this station on weekdays. As such, it has potential to attract customers returning to San Jose Diridon Station from the Peninsula, as well as those leaving San Jose to head up the Peninsula. Therefore we recommend that if this site were to be explored further, it would be considered for a weekday late afternoon/early evening time slot.
Additional locations (all 28 location suggestions below)
Respondents had an opportunity to suggest additional locations as well. We have not yet decided whether or not we wish to pursue these additional ideas. Some of them that jumped out were: Luther Burbank Elementary School; Hoover Community Center; Westminster Presbyterian Church; West San Carlos and Shasta Ave; Parking lot at Diridon; and St. Leo's Church Parking Lot.
Weaknesses of the Survey
Unfortunately, our survey played into a fact we already knew ahead of time: individuals are most likely to support the farmer's market location closest to their residence and less likely to support those farther away. When we compared the subset of respondents from SHPNA_talk to those from NextDoor, a clear bias to close by locations was indeed present. With the majority of the respondents hailing from the greater Rose Garden, a location close to its geographic center won out. Another potential weakness was that the proposed locations perhaps were too clustered between three close by the Rose Garden and five close to The Alameda and Race intersection which could have diluted the support of the latter in the survey.
Having enough parking was a common theme among respondents in their comments. This perspective is shared by the representative from a Bay Area farmers market association. Parking is especially important for a weekend market in which people are more likely to buy more food.
Issues with the Hanchett/The Alameda Location: The Need for More Vendors
There were numerous comments criticizing the previous location located at Hanchett Ave and The Alameda. The most common critique was the lack of vendors there. Any market we do advocate for would have to have a lot of vendors to draw an ongoing crowd.
While we personally would support almost any of the options, the results of the survey suggest focusing our initial efforts on further exploring three locations: a Rose Garden location, a Lincoln High School location, and a Cahill Park weeknight location. The latter of which could actually be a complement to a weekend market in our neighborhood. In other words, we wonder if two markets could succeed in our neighborhood. A Cahill Park Farmer's Market on weeknights could serve commuters through Diridon Station on their way home from work and S/HPNA residents who live closest to Cahill Park. A Rose Garden or Lincoln High School weekend location could be a bigger market with parking to serve residents looking to purchase more food at one time. As of right now, our first priority will be the Lincoln High School location.
Our Action Steps
Our next step will be to contact the Principal of Lincoln High School to explore a farmer's market across from his school. Also we need to reach out to the various farmers market organizations to gauge their interest in a farmer's market in our part of town. Finally, the S/HPNA Board may brainstorm whether or not we need financial or institutional support from other nonprofit organizations or entities.
How You Can Help
Please remember that starting a new farmer's market is a big investment of time and effort and will not happen overnight. This survey is only a first, small, exploratory step. For any market to succeed in our neighborhood, we will need greater, more frequent support from the community for the farmers who sell there. That means that regardless of how close or convenient the market is to your home, we will need support from our entire area to ensure its success!