Every Tuesday, rain or shine, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Court Street Square in San Bernardino bustles with excitement. The city marked the grand launch of its first farmers market in this iconic location. This initiative, emphasizing the community’s drive to stimulate economic development and promote healthy nutrition, was met with overwhelming support from city officials and the community.
Oscar G. De Leon, a seasoned farmers market operator with 23 years in the industry, is the linchpin behind the initiative. De Leon manages five farmers markets, including three in Riverside County, one in Claremont, and now San Bernardino.
“Every farmer’s market, I try to keep it consistent every week, aiming to do the same thing over and over again, all year round,” De Leon stated. He emphasized that while the market is tailored to local professionals—offering a mix of crepes, tamales, baked potatoes, pupusas, and kettle corn—it also champions nutritional offerings such as microgreens, honey, yogurt, teas, and flowers. “Right now, farmers markets are a destination. If we present it well, people will support it, and local businesses will benefit immensely from the foot traffic,” De Leon added.
The establishment of the farmer’s market is a result of collaborative efforts. A community leader connected De Leon with San Bernardino Interim City Manager Charles McNeely. Their joint effort took just a month to bring the vision to fruition, showcasing the city’s keen interest in revitalizing the community with such initiatives. De Leon highlighted that while from a governmental agency perspective, this is an economic development project, it simultaneously promotes nutrition and community engagement.
Councilmember Kimberly Calvin expressed her enthusiasm, saying, “We’re celebrating San Bernardino’s very first farmers market with over 18 vendors serving diverse food options, fresh produce, and flowers. This is what a community looks like!” Calvin supported the market, purchasing bunches of flowers from multiple vendors.
Vanessa Carbajal, the city’s Recreation Manager, also shed light on the broad vision behind this initiative, saying, “Bringing organic certified farmers from the inland empire into the city will foster community growth.” She lauded De Leon for his efforts, pointing out that he coordinates multiple farmers markets across the Inland Empire.
The event also saw the participation of Mayor Helen Tran, Councilmember Ben Reynoso, and Interim City Manager Charles McNeely, who were seen purchasing items and showing their support. McNeely, in particular, was spotted enjoying hot food from one of the vendors.
The consensus is clear: farmers markets, when well-executed, have the power to rejuvenate a community, elevate its quality of life, and create a ripple effect of economic benefits, from foot traffic for existing businesses to attracting potential new ventures. The future looks promising with San Bernardino’s first step in this direction.