Atwater urban farmer cultivates investors for new market

Piper Goldstein

Story and photos by Christopher Yee

Anyone who has passed by the corner of Glendale Boulevard and Larga Avenue in Atwater Village in recent months has been hit up for money. Not by panhandlers but by a neighborhood entrepreneur working to open a market in the corner storefront, where large banner hanging above the entrance and in the windows read : “Looking for an investment?  Bet the farm.”  Piper Goldstein, former chef and urban farmer at her residence in Atwater Village, is making no secret of her need for financial help to open Atwater Village Farm, a market that will serve the neighborhood’s needs for general groceries and organic produce.

Goldstein’s plan  is to make arrangements with growers to buy their unsold produce at farmer’s markets. She said she got the idea after seeing large amounts of produce go unsold while she was doing a farm apprenticeship in Paso Robles, California.

Not only is Goldstein seeking investors, she’s asking for donations from anyone sympathetic to her cause through a website called Kickstarter, which allows people to help legitimate business startups get off the ground in return for various incentives set by the startup.  She has also been nominated for Intuit’s “Love a Local Business” contest, in which people vote online for a business to win a $50,000 hiring grant.  AWF is ranked ninth nationally and first regionally.

“I didn’t set out to go public with my search for funding,”  Goldstein said. “That’s kind of just how it worked out.”

Goldstein is being very public about reaching out to the community for help with funding primarily because residents they had begun reaching out to her about how much they wanted the market in the neighborhood after seeing her tend her vegetables in her front yard:

“For the last two years, the community has been telling me that they needed a grocery store.  They were telling me that they wanted a market similar to a farmer’s market open more than one day a week, something within walking distance.  The Kickstarter gave me a way to network with locals and people from around the country who would like to see this place become a reality,” said Goldstein.

The money that Goldstein hopes to raise on Kickstarter would go towards paying the rent, paying her employees–she has three full-time employees who are not being paid–and other costs related to opening the market.  While Donors have so far pledged $12,647. so far, If she does not reach her goal of $20,000 by July 15, the project will not be funded and none of the donors will be charged.

“If I don’t reach the goal, we’ll just keep having bake sales until we make it.  At this point, it’s more about thinking outside the box.  The banks are ready to give me loans.  I just need a substantial amount of money down,” said Goldstein.  She plans to open in some capacity within 60 to 75 days after some paperwork clears, but a grand opening will have to wait until she receives the necessary funding.

While Goldstein does want to make some money from her business venture, her main focus is giving back to Atwater Village.

“A little while ago, a commenter on Kickstarter called me a capitalist, saying they support the Atwater Village Farmer’s Market and that I’m trying to steal business from those farmers,” Goldstein said. “It got me a little upset because I’m not in this to make huge bucks.  I want the farmers and the community to prosper from my market.”

Goldstein and her associates will hold a bake sale and open house on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the market space at 3224 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, 90039.

Christopher Yee, a product of Monterey Park, has been a journalist for about a year and got started reporting on the Eastside while working for the East Los Angeles College Campus News.

No comments

  1. This sounds like a great project. Editor, please do it justice by taking a look at that second paragraph.

  2. @ Elle. Thanks. I cleared that up.

  3. Such a great idea for Atwater Village! I really hope Piper gets the backing she needs to get this market up and running – I’ve contributed on Kickstarter I hope others do as well.

  4. sounds like a great idea. any more information available?

  5. Yess!
    We need more dinning on that strip and entertainment options lets make this a real destination!

  6. Mr. Jacobi, just click the links that appear throughout the article and you will find much more information in detail. Any questions and you may email any member of the AVF team. All the contact information is located on our website.


  7. Ingenious idea.

  8. Ugh.

    She’s a panhandler. Just like all the other panhandlers in the neighborhood with the exceptions that she’s more asthetically pleasing when she’s panhandling and she has access to the internet to panhandle the interwebs.

    Hipsters will convince themselves of anything. I just wish they’d convince themselves not to get so many bad tattoos.

  9. Ugh indeed! Mr “DJ” Bento Box – Our world needs more haters just like you!!
    How dare this woman try to start a business from scratch. A grocery store at that!!! Please, I mean who would want affordable fresh produce in their back yard. Certainly not I & I’m sure not you my DJ “generic japanese reference” brother. I mean there’s a Yoshinoya Beef Bowl 5 minutes drive away.
    Personally I can barely walk down Glendale Blvd in Atwater Village without these tattoo’d hipster freak panhandlers badgering me every step. Now you say the panhandling is spreading to the interwebs. Again I say how dare they!! If this woman was not born into money, or friends with rich people, she has no business trying to start a business. And she’s tattoo’d!! I mean the nerve on some people.

  10. DJ Bento Box, agreed. She is a panhandler. If one is willing to ignore the fact that you are giving money to an individual who stands to profit from your contribution without equivalent reciprocation, you are giving them charity. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but it’s an important distinction. The service she’s providing the community is the ability to conduct business with you. Who wouldn’t take free money? A far more admirable approach would have been to sell gift certificates of equal value to contributions so that the community could provide loans to Goldstein to overcome her enormous startup costs. There are many following this model on Kickstarter.

    However, DJ Bento Box, I must disagree on another point. There’s nothing wrong with hipsters. Maybe you’re just jealous.

  11. Bento, Bonto, Vento – Are you the same person and are you serious? If you look at the Kickstart site the individuals don’t get the money unless they raise the total amount needed. It’s not like if she only raises $5k out of the $20k needed she keeps it and goes shopping. No money is actually taken until goal is met. And the entrepreneurs on Kickstart do give a gift with the different levels of donations much like PBS does. Sure it would be nice to get 1% stock in whatever company you donate to but most people only donate a a few dollars. It’s about supporting projects you believe in instead of being a person that just complains about everything and yet takes no action. I think it’s a good idea and I would support it – that’s MY choice.

  12. I would much rather have her ask for my money, than have to be constantly assaulted by your demanding my attention. her “panhandling” is far less of a psychic drain.

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