A Market Prospers in Salt Lake City
Updated: Sep 26, 2022
By Charlie McCabe
I've just returned from travel to several sites for different projects. In Salt Lake City, my first stop, I was able to explore the downtown, surrounding neighborhoods, and their parks and trails. Good weather allowed me to get outside in-between meetings and discussions, and I was lucky to be able to catch the weekly Summer Downtown Farmer's Market in Pioneer Park, where a few morning showers did not deter the hundreds of vendors and thousands of shoppers.
Pioneer Park occupies ten acres in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, just a block from the historic Rio Grande Depot rail station, amid hundreds of new housing units with hundreds more under construction. For the past 31 years, the nonprofit Urban Food Connections of Utah has organized both summer and winter food markets and is working to establish a year-round market in a permanent location in the same area.
In the meantime, over 100 farmers and food producers, plus dozens of prepared food vendors and more than 60 artisans fill the park from June through October, offering a wide variety of seasonal produce, meat, baked goods, handmade crafts, and much more. It was certainly one of the biggest public markets I've attended, including a year of weekly markets in New York City when I was attending graduate school in Brooklyn. It's a testament to Alison and her small team at Urban Food Connections of Utah, along with support from the Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance and the City of Salt Lake Public Lands Department.
Alison told me that while the average count of vendors is down somewhat (around 190 or so every week), sales are above what they saw at the previous peak in 2019. She also noted that the market continued through the darkest days of the pandemic. It is a great example of a regular, recurring placemaking event, drawing on the power of the park's location, its existing amenities, and the continuing efforts of a small dedicated organization.
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