Oakley farmers market

An attempt to plant a farmers market on Saturdays in Oakley last year shriveled up a few months after sprouting, due to a lack of demand. But now, two local farmers are hoping to bring the idea back to life.

Beekeepers Marcin Wójcikowski and Elzbieta Nowak — both city residents — will launch their own weekly version of the farmers market in Oakley’s Civic Center Plaza on Sundays, beginning Sept. 1.

“I think it will be the first farmers market in Contra Costa County run by farmers, not by an association,” Nowak said.

The duo is hoping the Sunday events will avoid direct competition with the well-established Brentwood Farmers Market on Saturdays, and give customers an opportunity to attend a farmers market on a day when they’re not tied up with recreational sporting and school events.

The pair said they conducted an informal poll on the social networking site Nextdoor, seeking input on the idea’s relaunch, with about 75% of the more than 400 respondents supporting the idea.

“I was surprised,” Nowak said. “Marcin said if 200 people voted, that would be great, but I had 403 votes and 300-plus said ‘yes.’ I hope Sunday will be a good day.”

The plaza features room for up to 25 canopies, with vendors already lined up to sell fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, honey, kettle corn, tea and soap.

The weekly event is also expected to feature live bands and raffles, with winners walking away with produce baskets.

The team’s city permit runs for up to 11 weeks before they would need to reapply, Nowak said.

“If you don’t try, you don’t know if you will succeed or not,” she said, also noting the duo has plans to launch an Antioch event if the Oakley version is successful.

Oakley City Councilmember Kevin Romick said the city has been in discussions with a few different individuals about bringing a market back to the city.

“They are a certified market vendor with a lot of farmer contacts,” Romick said. “We are excited about the return of a farmers’ market to downtown Oakley, and hope the change will lead to a more robust event.” 

The events will serve as Nowak and Wójcikowski’s first attempts at launching a farmers’ market, but both are well-versed in the events, Nowak said.

They have been selling their own honey at farmers markets since 2012.

Wójcikowski — a fifth-generation beekeeper and beekeeping college graduate — and Nowak currently have hives in their backyard, as well as in Antioch and Brentwood open spaces, and plan to feature their own product at the Oakley events.

“We have invested our money and time and we will see what happens,” Nowak said.

The Oakley Farmers Market is expected to run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. Oakley’s Civic Center Plaza is located at 3231 Main St. For more information, email Wójcikowski at Marcins.Apiary@gmail.com.