The Westwood Village Improvement Association may hire a new operator for the Village’s farmers market.
The Westwood Village Farmers Market, which operates Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., is currently managed by Bautista Community Events. Recently, the association requested that other vendors submit their proposals to take over management, said association Executive Director Andrew Thomas. The association will establish a committee Thursday to examine the proposals.
The farmers market is managed by an independent vendor and sponsored by the association. The association doesn’t change vendors every year, but periodically assesses other options to improve the farmers market.
The new farmers market management companies the association is considering include Raw Inspiration, Farmer Mark and Sustainable Management Services. The association may also continue its contract with Bautista Community Events.
“This is no indictment of the current operator,” Thomas said. “We’ve had the same operator for a long time, and it’s our obligation as a nonprofit organization to be transparent and make sure we’re continuously bringing the best values, products and practices to our district.”
Thomas said the association intentionally made the request for proposals vague so that prospective operators are free to express their vision for the farmers market.
“The association is just the sponsor of the market,” Thomas said. “We’re not experts at managing farmers markets, so we want to hear from these operators on how we can improve.”
Raw Inspiration manages 24 farmers markets throughout LA and Ventura County, according to its website. The vendor aims to educate children and adults about the importance of a healthy diet and organic growing practices.
Farmer Mark operates five farmers markets and aims to run California Certified Farmers Markets where small farmers can directly sell their produce to the public, according to its website.
Emmanuel Bautista, head of Bautista Community Events and current manager of the farmers market, said he envisions a market built upon community relationships and respect for local businesses. His goal is to introduce a wide variety of new and unique vendors to supplement the Village.
“We don’t want to compete with what the Village already has,” Bautista said. “Instead, we want to support it. I’ve already introduced two new farmers into the market, and we have a couple more vendors coming in soon.”
If the association decides to renew its contract with Bautista Community Events, Bautista said he will bring more entertainment and host more cultural activities and events to create a more lively market. He also hopes to enrich the relationship between the Westwood community and UCLA by further collaborating with campus organizations.
Bautista, who also manages the Culver City Farmers Market, worked as an assistant manager to former manager Steven Whipple for seven years before taking over Whipple’s position just four months ago.
“In the short time I’ve been manager, things are already heading in the right direction,” Bautista said.