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It’s remarkable that San Diego doesn’t have a permanent public market, like most major and many small cities. We all know about the destination markets – the Ferry Building, Pike's Place, Borough Market, La Boqueria and Grand Central Market, but a surprising number of them exist in cities like Dayton and Cleveland, Ohio, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chattanooga and Petersburg, Virginia. Baltimore has two.

We’ve got great weather and a year-round growing season – why has no one thought of this sooner? It turns out that someone has been thinking about it for a long time.

Catt White, the driving force behind the Little Italy Mercato and the North Park and Pacific Beach farmer’s markets and Dale Steele, self-described “serial entrepreneur” have signed a lease on a 92,000 square foot warehouse in Barrio Logan, near Petco Park. They plan to open this month. That’s right. An aggressive timeline, to be sure.

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Ms. Steele has been trying to get a public market started for twelve years, meeting with the city powers that be and private investors. It was one of those ideas that everyone loved, but nobody wanted to step up and help finance.

Instead of waiting for city funding or courting angel investors for another decade, White and Steele have begun a public funding campaign via kickstarter.com to raise an initial $92,244 to get the place open. In just over one week, and with almost no publicity, they have raised over $66,000 $73,000 $79,000 $89,000 met their initial goal, any further donations will help the project go that much faster.

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The two have big plans for the market. Besides a permanent indoor market, farmer’s markets will be open two days a week (one day a week to start), with artists and craftsmen filling booths the other days. Office space is being converted into a commercial kitchen and classrooms for cooking classes, urban agriculture workshops and small business mentorship programs. Additional space will be available for private events, chef’s tasting dinners, and movie nights.

You’ve got to love this sort of grassroots movement. Stay tuned for more details.

The San Diego Public Market will be located at 1735 National Avenue in Barrio Logan.

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Photo and image source: San Diego Public Market website

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Comments

Ian Pike Aug. 15, 2012 @ 3:13 p.m.

Wow! That is an insanely ambitious deadline to open an equally ambitious project.

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Mary Beth Abate Aug. 17, 2012 @ 8:26 a.m.

I agree, very ambitious. They are just a few thousand dollars from their initial fundraising goal, several days ahead of their deadline for donations, and are receiving many offers of volunteer workers for the heavy lifting at the site. The idea seems to have struck a chord with folks.

I hope they can sustain the momentum. It sounds like a great addition to the downtown area, both for residents and tourists. And, of course, local farmers.

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