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