The Downtown Santa Ana Certified Famers’ Market (DTSA Farmers’ Market) is back in action this spring working to provide local residents and restaurants with farm fresh food as well as improve access to healthy produce for the underserved in the community.
Although the DTSA Farmers’ Market did not operate this past winter, its absence allowed the market’s managers to make some much-needed changes and improvements to the it’s physical structure and seller roster.
“Our winter closure was due to some shake-ups with vendors combined with timing issues with the season,” Sonora Ortiz, market manager of the DTSA Farmers’ Market, says. “It afforded us an opportunity to make some changes the community had been asking for, but we couldn’t address [these] while being open every week.”
While one of the Market’s goals is to get food to its Santa Ana customers, it’s also dedicated to promoting awareness, and making sure the public knows good food is available. “Our goal is doing our best to make healthy and ethical food accessible through any and all means possible—education, awareness, Market Match, EBT, WIC, etc.,” Ortiz says. Ortiz adds that this is the Market’s second year participating in Market Match. “We are excited to have just kicked off the grant’s second year by increasing our match amount to $15.”
The Market also is highly active in the community through its work with local organizations.
“We work closely with Slow Food OC, the OC chapter of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, and OC Food Access Coalition (Christina Hall is on our Advisory Committee),” Ortiz says. “We also are connected with the urban agriculture movement in Santa Ana and do what we can to support their efforts, including helping them sell at the Market or to local restaurants.”
“We get a lot of community support and input (for which we are very grateful),” Ortiz says. “All of us behind the Market are a part of the Santa Ana community in our own rights, so this is just an extension of that.”
The Santa Ana Market also works to improve the local food system.
“We work with local growers, local food artisans (particularly with East End Kitchens to get community members who want to sell their food at the Market and grow their businesses), and are building a market-wide compost program with our friends at the Heritage Museum of OC to decrease our food waste while helping community agriculture projects.”
Ortiz explains that one of the Market’s main challenges has been outreach, and promoting its day and time change.
“As much as we are thrilled to shift to Sundays as folks have wanted, it’s been difficult to get the word out about Sunday after having been open on Thursdays for so long,” Ortiz explains.
Although the time change is causing issues now, Ortiz is confident that the Market will continue to grow in the years to come.
“In five years, we hope the Market will continue to thrive and meet the community’s wants and needs while inspiring more local production, and supporting more education and healthy lifestyle choices,” Ortiz adds.
The Downtown Santa Ana Farmers’ Market is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.