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Apr 15, 2008 07:41 PM

Eastern Market

Does anyone know what happened to Agora Farms, the vegetables vendor who used to be at Eastern Market every weekend, at the corner of 7th & C? I haven't seen them around recently.

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  1. were they the Pennsylvanians? been gone for months now, I miss their mushrooms and potatoes...

    seems like there was some tiff over parking and blocking off 7th.

    like parking was ever easy in the first place. frankly blocking 7 was the best idea yet.

    but I still don't understand it, no one drives to the EM w/o expecting a parking hassle anyway.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hill food

      This is the email that was sent out last December:

      "It is with disappointment and sadness that Agora Farms will temporarily cease operations at the historic Eastern Market until the reopening of 7th Street, effective December 30, 2007."

    2. Agora Farms has been at Eastern Market since Feb 13 2009.
      Now relocated back on 7th &C St SE
      Fine fresh PA fruit & veggies
      This week HONEY CRISP APPLES

      11 Replies
      1. re: Dan Donahue

        yep they are back, usu. both Sat. and Sun.

        Dan's as chatty as ever. beautiful heirloom tomatoes last week (bit pricey at 4.29/# but gorgeous).

        1. re: hill food

          They're back - but at half the size of their old stall from before the street was closed.
          Fewer food shoppers now that the Market has been turned into a tourist site and flea market.
          There are now lots of other farmers' markets, so it's harming all the vendors, and they're reporting a decline of 35% or more in sales.
          They need to reopen that street.
          It's only a few years until the HInes development provides a plaza for the flea market.
          Will the food market survive until then? Not on weekend tourist dollars.

          1. re: MakingSense

            are we talking about the same folks? directly across C from Marvelous Market? 'cause they were the same old size last week (rain day today).

            considering some of the ideas pitched around the last 10 years, it could be much worse - as in the inside becoming a 'festival' marketplace ala the G'town market now Dean and Deluca.

            1. re: hill food

              Agora Farms isn't the same size it was before 7th Street was closed. They used to have about 3 times as big a space as they have now, and brought a couple of trucks full of produce each week.
              They had been at 7th and C for at least 15 years before the fire in 2007.

              They did talk about all sorts of wild ideas for Eastern Market in the past including turning the North Hall into a grocery store in the 1980s when the little Soviet Safeway in the 200 block of 7th Street closed. That was a terrible blow for the local businesses because foot traffic declined terribly, especially during the week. Many small neighborhood-serving shops closed because they couldn't make it on weekend traffic alone. That's when offices replaced them.
              There were several other "markets" in the Georgetown Market after it was restored, and it even closed for awhile, before D&D finally made a go of it.

              1. re: MakingSense

                yes I moved in in 2000 well after the 7th st. Safeways closed (200 block and the one where the Mormons are now near E. what a shame, the market only provides so much and between Yes and CVS - well, don't get me started...

                maybe Agora was bigger once, but I remember them as about the same size back pre-fire. they did sort of abandon post-fire while others struggled to make sure everything continued as best as possible.

                but I've been wrong before.

                1. re: hill food

                  The Safeway in the 400 block of 7th closed in the mid-70's about the time I moved to the Hill. The one in the 200 block closed in about 83 or 84, the same year that the Kresge's closed at 7th and PA.
                  The Kresge's had the best fried chicken at their lunch counter. They rolled it in flour by hand before frying and it tasted like heaven.
                  Those two closings and the move of the Post Office, from where Montmartre is now, doomed foot traffic on 7th.
                  Without neighborhood shoppers, particularly food shoppers who come daily or several times a week, retail stores started closing. The weekend Market traffic wasn't enough to keep them going.

                  Agora Farms was one of the vendors who opened immediately after the fire. They were in the street with their regular large stall, but started to bring less and less produce as fewer and fewer food shoppers came to the Market. They were losing money, because they had to give the produce away to shelters at the end of the weekend.
                  That's why they stopped coming to the Market during the Winter of 2008 - not enough business to sustain them. He just returned recently with a smaller stall, but I have no idea how he's doing. The selection is much more limited.

                  I'm just one shopper but I stopped going to EM on weekends because it's a miserable place to shop for food with all the sight seers.
                  I used to spend $25 or more at Agora Farms every week, but as fewer people bought less produce, he was able to provide fewer choices, and I bought less and less.

                  I'm sorry that the City has decided that they prefer a tourist destination and seasonal weekend flea market over the food market that existed for over 130 years. I supported Eastern Market and the neighborhood businesses for the 35+ years that I've lived in DC, but they've decided that they don't want a food market or local businesses anymore. I can't do anything about it except take my business elsewhere.

                  I need and want my food market back.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    I have to agree about avoiding the place on the weekend except to hit the farmer's stands (flea market? like I need more stuff/things/junk). God forbid I have to step foot inside on a Saturday or Sunday. If I do it's in the last half hour of the day or I wait until a weekday.

                    1. re: hill food

                      And THAT, my friend, is exactly what is hurting business at Eastern Market. The serious, long time food shoppers, who used to spend a LOT of money there, just ain't going any more.
                      You live close enough that you can run over quickly at the end of the day, but people who came for years from other parts of the Metro area have thrown in the towel.
                      I work from home so I can go during the week like you, but most people aren't so lucky. Eastern Market has lost that business.
                      I hate the thought of losing that Market. The city is crazy!!!

                      And you're right about the flea market. I could sell them stuff. Too much crap in my basement and closets already.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        I guess I don't consider it a regional attraction (my luxury) the fire galvanized so many I can't imagine losing it. if anything after all the years of dicking around the fire may have been the best thing for the indoor folks.

                        would be nice if the outdoor ones were as confident, but I do understand why some, beyond the street issue ,stayed away while it was closed.

                        (personal crank note - sometimes I just want a little butter or sour cream and I have to wait forever for a bunch of dilletantes to sample an 'exotic' cheese...)

                        1. re: hill food

                          You aren't the only crank.
                          Some of the vendors have complained that their regular customers told them that they've stopped going because of what you said.

                          Like a group of 5 or 6 "tourists" blocking a stall, sampling the peach slices, chatting, while only ONE of them buys $1.22 worth of green beans and then wants to put it on a credit card! True story!
                          I've stood at the fish stall behind people discussing why they wouldn't eat this, and had never tried that, and how they love another fish as sushi at such and such a place. I couldn't get up to the counter and Chad Glasgow was just rolling his eyes until they finally walked away without buying a thing. What can he do?

                          Sadly, the city sees the two-day-a-week flea market as a gold mine, but how much will it add to our lives in Winter when it's 35 degrees, maybe raining, and none of the vendors or tourists come?
                          You buy butter and sour cream all the time. Tourists don't.
                          The Market should be making the regular faithful customers like YOU happy.

                          I want my food market back.

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            amen. but I'm still torn on the subject. I want the choice and I want the dolts out of my way and I want all the vendors to be prosperous..

                            can it be resolved?