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New farmers market to open in Woodbridge; first day set for May 20

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Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:16 am, Sat May 12, 2012.

Organic blueberries. Fresh cut flowers. Handmade crafts. If these wares remind you of the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market, think again. In two weeks, this list and more will be available at the new Woodbridge Farmers Market.

Eric Firpo, of Stockton, will manage the business side of the local-only market. He currently runs a produce delivery service called Stockton Harvest that sends family-sized boxes of veggies to homes. He also shares  a few acres of farmland in French Camp.

“We’re trying to get a mix of fruits and vegetables. To make the most successful market, you have to get a whole wide array of items for sale,” said Firpo.

Firpo isn’t worried about potential competition from the Lodi market.

“I haven’t been to the Lodi market much. Hopefully ours will have its own character and flavor,” he said.

The market is planned for the open lot on Lower Sacramento Road between Cactus Mexican Dining and Woodbridge Crossing. The lot will be repaved with crushed granite this week. The market starts on May 20 and will be held on Sundays through September.

The owners of both restaurants put Firpo up to the challenge. After working as a reporter for 20 years, Firpo was laid off. He expanded his side job, delivering produce, and helps manage Boggs Tract Community Farm in Stockton.

Steve Bing, owner of Woodbridge Crossing, saw him as a perfect resource to bring vendors to the market.

Bing visualizes the Woodbridge market as having a county, not city, atmosphere.  

“We’re not trying to recreate the wheel here. We want to expose people back to the old culture of Woodbridge,” said Bing, adding that most growers who have signed on are from Woodbridge.

The vendor list includes fresh flowers, cherries, blueberries, veggies and even mushrooms.

“We just wanted to have a few things that would be interesting, like vendors with different specialties,” said Mia Gomez, who owns Cactus Mexican Dining with her husband Efrain. Some of those vendors include a sterling silver handmade jewelry maker, pottery and fountain craftspeople, an ironworker and a maker of intricate, inlaid boxes.

Bing, Firpo and Gomez also plan to have live music and family activities each week. In the future, they may add a wine garden.

“It’s a super cute town, and a neat spot for a market. Even though Lodi has one, this will be for Woodbridge,” said Firpo. “The people here are aware of the value of healthy foods. I think it will be successful.”

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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