The Story of the Market: Greg Esparza, Part I

I know we promised last time that the next post would be from founder and previous Market Manager Greg Esparza, but we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer to hear his side of the story. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from his feature article in Tribeza in July 2010 (the summer after the Market opened). You can also check out what he’s been up to in recent months on the Moontower website.

Until next time…

Greg in 2010, on the HOPE Farmers Market and sustainability as a community issue:

“The HOPE Farmers Market is a place for the Austin community to come together and celebrate local food, local art, and local non-profit programs. What we’re aiming for is a combination of a neighborhood grocery store and your favorite hangout – someplace that you can weave into your Sunday routine as a one-stop shop for organic, locally produced fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, and prepared food as well as a place to catch-up with friends over coffee, tea, and a variety of hot food options. Beyond what we offer food-wise, our inside art market is a great place to pick up gifts for friends – offering everything from vintage cowboy boots to sustainably re-harvested yarn. Our garden corner offers amazing locally grown orchids and a variety of plants and veggie starts. And we offer free yoga and wellness classes during the Market. The final piece of what we do is providing a space for local non-profits to reach out to our customers and inform them about their work and how to get involved with their programs. This is a really important part of what we do, as the Market itself is a non-profit project started by the H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Everywhere) Campaign, an organization that creates avenues for artists and the creative community to contribute their unique talents to support projects that promote sustainability and peace around the world.

For me, sustainability is mostly about awareness, and that’s where places like farmers markets can have a big impact. Perhaps the most important green thing you can do at our market is meeting your farmer. That’s one part of the Market that always gets me excited. Seeing our customers talking to the farmers, ranchers, and food artisans about what they do, where they’re located, how they cultivate their crops, raise their animals, or prepare their products, that’s really what makes the experience of a farmers’ market enjoyable and unique, and it ties right back to this issue of awareness. If you know where your food comes from, how it was grown, and who you’re supporting through your purchases, then you are in a position to use your money to support a local, sustainable food system rather than agricultural practices that utilize harmful chemicals and release large quantities of greenhouse gases as byproducts. And this applies to anything, the more you are aware of the production cycles behind the things you use and buy, the more you can make green choices.

Go local. Whether it is supporting local businesses, eating local food, or getting involved with local organizations, putting your dollars or time towards supporting your own community is an easy and rewarding way to improve the economic and environmental health of the city. Shepherding a sustainable future for Austin into reality is ultimately one big community project. We need to figure out how to grow a self-reliant local economy and develop the city’s infrastructure so that we can be much more efficient with how much gas we burn, how much energy we use, and how much land we develop. I also can’t emphasize enough how creating a sustainable Austin is a community education issue, not just an individual choice thing, and that’s where supporting the work of local non-profits is really critical. All the pieces for a green Austin future are here right now, and non-profits are the groups doing the challenging work of putting the puzzle together.”

Greg Esparza, Founder
TRIBEZA Green IssueJuly 2010

Next up in The Story of the Market Series: Lizzie Garrett, HOPEFM Development Director

The Story of the Market: Andi Scull Cheatham

Market Family and Friends:

Gather ’round, it’s story time! Now that we’re settled in at Plaza Saltillo, it’s time to commemorate the big move and share the collective memories of Market organizers (and maybe some vendors) past and present. This month, we’re featuring a series of blog posts to share the history of the HOPE Farmers Market: who we are and why we’re involved, how the Market started and how it’s grown… plus give a little sneak peek into what’s coming up!

As many of you know, this is just a small taste of the endless stories there are to tell. Have a Market memory of your own to share? Send it to us, and we’ll share the best ones!

See you around the Market,

Lizzie Garrett
HOPEFM Development Director


The first in this series is written by Andi Scull Cheatham, founder of the HOPE Campaign. 

The Beginning: Andi’s story…

In 2006, I first met with Shepard Fairey in LA to discuss an idea called the HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Campaign. This concept would involve artists and musicians to help raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. I could never have guessed that this meeting was the beginning of so much more ahead.

Three years later, I was in Austin for a HOPE/SXSW event and stopped by to see my long time friend Reji Thomas – just in time for Fader Fort in full swing at Pine Street Station. After the dust settled, Reji asked me for ideas about what to do with the space. In the past Reji and I had hosted art shows and events to support the artist community, but this time we were looking for something better, stronger, meaningful!

On the same trip, I also met with East Austin veteran and owner of Big Red Sun, Selena Souders. The first thing Selena said when she walked into the back of Reji’s old cotton rail warehouse was “farmers market!” I loved the idea and so did Reji, who shared that she had always wanted an art market or open air studio. This was exactly the type of meaningful project that we wanted HOPE to bring to the Austin community.

Farmers markets were a part of the fabric of my childhood and continued to be a weekly outlet for me as an artist and lover of fresh culinary goodness. As a child, my Chinese mother (like many other Asian immigrants in the US) shopped only at the local Chinese grocery store or at open air markets. These were the places that had food my mother considered “edible.” I remember being 8yrs old with my mom in a Safeway grocery store and watching her try to shop for our family. She was puzzled looking at all the boxed food and suddenly grabbed a loaf of Wonder bread and said to me, “This is not food. I don’t know how they sell this.”

And so research on the HOPE Farmers Market began! Who knew there were so many different and amazing farmers markets around the US, each with great formats, ideas and locations? As luck would have it, just a few weeks into gathering research I had an interesting meeting with a guy named Greg Esparza followed by visit from a girl named Emily Stengel. Greg was a recent UT Architecture graduate with a passion for community projects, and Emily had run the Art market at ACL Music Festival for the past few years – instant friendship! Together, we made the perfect team to start the first East side farmers market that would support and be supported by artists, musicians and local neighborhood families.

And so you have it. Since October 2009, many great stories, moments and relationships have happened at the HOPE Farmers Market. We’re ready for many many more to come at it’s new home at Plaza Saltillo!

Andi Scull Cheatham
Founder & Executive Producer
HOPE Campaign | HOPE Events

Next up: Emily Stengel, HOPEFM founder and current Event Services Manager at C3 Presents…

Just a few weeks before the big move to Plaza Saltillo, we’re celebrating HOPE FM at Pine Street Station. What a great way to share and enjoy this beautiful February weather!


Thank you Jessica Warren for another great set of photos from the Market this week! To see more photos from this day at HOPE FM, check out our Facebook album >>

A lot of you have been asking about the upcoming move to Plaza Saltillo… here are a few of your most common questions answered!


When is the Market moving?
The first Market at the Plaza is on Sunday, March 3… but save the date for the Grand Opening on March 10, featuring Whiskey Shivers live at 1:30pm!

Why is the Market moving? 
Pine Street Station has been the Market’s home for the past 3 1/2 years, and in terms of character and East Austin charm, there’s nothing like it. However, we’re ready for a larger and more open space to truly welcome the community to come and be a part of the Market. The Plaza is beautiful, open, inviting, accessible and comes with the added perks of nice bathrooms, a great covered stage, and built-in shelter for vendors! In addition, through our collaboration with the City of Austin, the Austin Parks Department and Capital Metro, the space will now be opened up for anyone from the community to use, activating a space that has been under utilized for years.

What is it going to look like?
Check out the awesome renderings by Adam Gates of the Thinking Booth. It helps to have a bunch of architects in our ranks!

How many vendors will fit in the new space?
The Plaza can fit about 50 vendors, which will set up their wares in tents, the built-in pavilions, and trucks.

Will there still be weekly community programming and live music?
YES! Never fear, we have a space for donation yoga, HOPE Play, Thinking Booth, HOPE Likes Bikes, the Austin Clothes Exchange, and other unique HOPE FM programming. As for the music, it’s only getting better! HOPE FM Live will be featuring weekly live music on the covered stage, and has already lined up bands through April!

Is the train going to run on Sundays?
Unfortunately, the train isn’t going to run on Sundays in the foreseeable future. However, there are several bus routes that will get you to the Market: 417 and 320. We encourage bike riding, and there’s plenty of free street parking!

What’s going to happen to Pine Street Station?
As a glass studio, art gallery and event venue, Pine Street Station will continue to keep it funky on East 5th! Fader Fort will take over for the SXSW season, and then it’s back to business as usual. If you’re interested in renting the space for an event, please contact Jessie.

Will there be beer?
Since the Plaza is a public park and the Market is now a City of Austin Sponsored Event, there will not be beer or other alcohol samples at the Market. However, the White Horse opens every Sunday (now at noon!) – right across the street – so walk on over for a brew and some conjunto music each week by Los Pinkys! 


Have more questions? Send us an email!