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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beverly Hills Patch, CA - Q&A: Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market Manager Greta Dunlap

If you've been to the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market, chances are you've seen Greta Dunlap directing traffic, carrying a bushel of fruit or helping customers to their cars.

As the market manager, Dunlap does all those things and more.

She also decides which vendors sell goods at the market, and ensures quality control so that only certified California produce is sold.

Patch caught up with Dunlap to talk about the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market, which is celebrating its 16th anniversary this month.

Beverly Hills Patch: How long have you been the manager at the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market?

Great Dunlap: Nine years.

Patch: What is the best thing you've ever tasted from the market?

Dunlap: So many good things...a Snow Queen [plum].

Patch: What is the maximum number of vendors allowed at the market?

Dunlap: I'm limited by a business on the east end of the market which is open on some Sundays, so as many that can fit in the space that we have. Otherwise I'd fill the market with more vendors and go all the way down Civic Drive.

Patch: How many vendors are there now?

Dunlap: Through the season, I have about 50 certified farmers and 21 non-agricultural vendors.

Patch: What sort of a mix of vendors are you looking for?

Dunlap: Farmers markets are for the farmers but it's nice to have other items customers can choose from to compliment their menus. When the market first opened 16 years ago, there were no non-agricultural vendors and customers asked for coffee, prepared food, etc. I need to keep in mind the needs of the customer, and every market is different.

Patch: What/who is the most popular stand or stands?

Dunlap: Now—in the summer months—it's the stone fruits. 

Patch: How do you choose the vendors?

Dunlap: I've learned over the years to be very careful and to do my homework. If a farmer wants to come into the market, I call other markets where they are selling and I also go and see their stand. I've also gone out to their farms to ensure they are actually growing what is listed on their certificate. 

Patch: What about the food stands?

Dunlap: When I bring in a new food vendor, it has to be something unique to bring into the market—like the Smokin' Mama's we just brought in and people really like.  They sold out of their jerky last Sunday.

Patch: Who/Why do you reject?

Dunla: If the market has it already, I would put in my waiting list file.

Patch: Is there some type of produce or stand you would like to have that you currently do not?

Dunlap: Not really. We have such a good group of farmers who have some really unique products, plus all the basics.

Patch: Are there any requested items that the market doesn't offer and why can't you find it?

Dunlap: If someone does mention a farmer/product, I will usually look into it.

Patch: Please describe the shoppers. Who goes to the market?

Dunlap: I've done two surveys over the years, and half of our customers are residents and they shop because of the freshness of the produce. The other half are visitors or people just passing through Beverly Hills.

Patch: This month the market turns Sweet 16. Any plans?

Dunlap: We just had the big Chili Cookoff, which was a lot of fun. I'm glad to make it to 16 years. The city of Beverly Hills is very supportive and a great sponsor. I'm also very grateful to our customers who have supported our market for all of these years. I welcome them back every week.

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