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LEIMERT PARK : Plans Take Shape for Farmers Market

October 30, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY

A group of Leimert Park merchants is getting a long-awaited project off the ground--and out on the street.

Plans for a weekly farmers market on a one-block stretch of 43rd Street are quickly taking shape, spearheaded by Jimmy Dodson, president of the Leimert Park Merchants Assn. He expects the market to open before Thanksgiving, pending city approval.

Dodson, who owns Banjo's Yogurt and Deli at 43rd and Degnan, said the idea for a Saturday morning farmers market in Leimert Park had been discussed for a year among the association's 14 members before he decided to try to make it happen.

"We've been trying to get together projects that will get more pedestrian traffic around here," said Dodson, who says that his business has suffered in recent months. "But we need something ongoing, not just a daylong festival. . . . Leimert Park is a perfect setting because of all the arty businesses. People will come to the market and have a reason to linger."

The project is getting $10,000 in start-up money from Community Build, a nonprofit economic development agency that is also a member of the merchants association. Dodson said he has so far recruited 20 produce growers and sellers from other local farmers markets and through referrals from the Southland Certified Farmers Market Assn.

Students at local high schools with garden projects, including Fremont and Crenshaw, have also expressed interest in selling goods. The market will operate Saturdays from 7 to 11 a.m. on 43rd Street between Degnan Boulevard and Norton Avenue.

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he has given the project his initial blessing and is meeting with the community-based Crenshaw Neighborhood Planning Board to ensure broad public support for the project before he brings it before the City Council for approval.

"I welcome the idea, particularly since it will be helpful to the Leimert Park community in terms of revitalization," Ridley-Thomas said. "The area is going to see a lot of growth in the near future. . . . This is just one of the things that'll be happening."

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