Jackie Rivera-Krouse is now managing the same farmers market her mother took her to as an infant.

Rivera-Krouse, who was born in Santa Monica and grew up in Northeast Los Angeles, said some of her earliest memories are of the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

“It piqued my interest at a young age in terms of seeing edible flowers and honeycombs and other agricultural products you don’t see at a supermarket,” she said.

Now a seasoned farmers market manager and public policy advocate, she is picking up where longtime Santa Monica Farmers Market manager Laura Avery left off. Avery forged deep ties to farmers around the state and Los Angeles’ finest chefs during her 36-year tenure, becoming one of the most influential figures in California’s farm-to-table movement.

Rivera-Krouse, who previously co-managed the Hollywood Farmers’ Market and served as director of programs for benefits and incentives at Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, said she wants to continue Avery’s legacy of creating a successful business environment for farmers, promoting fresh produce and ensuring that people of all income levels can shop at the market.

Rivera-Krouse’s plan to build on Avery’s work includes growing the market at Virginia Avenue Park. She and her new team are aiming to hold more events at the market, such as cooking demonstrations, that engage the surrounding Pico neighborhood. The events at the Main Street market could be a model, she said.

“I’m getting acquainted with new faces and the market and trying to understand what could be needed to enhance it, but Laura hasn’t left too much for me to do,” she said. “Our team is looking to keep promoting and strengthening our smaller markets.”

While Rivera-Krouse may not have any sweeping changes lined up for the Santa Monica Farmers Market, she was behind a major policy initiative that made Los Angeles farmers markets more accessible to low-income shoppers.

As part of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, Rivera-Krouse spearheaded the effort to require all Los Angeles farmers markets to accept CalFresh Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, formerly known as food stamps. Before Los Angeles City Council adopted the ordinance in 2016, more than half of markets were not equipped to accept EBT cards.

Rosana Franco, a policy associate at the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, said Rivera-Krouse has spent her career connecting farmers markets to communities with limited access to healthy food. Her expertise in public policy and background as a market manager has helped her succeed, Franco said.

“When markets asked her how the (EBT ordinance) was actually going to work, she definitely understood that perspective, and she also was able to understand the teeth behind the policy,” Franco said.

The Santa Monica Farmers Market already accepts EBT cards and people receiving CalFresh and other benefits receive $10 to spend on produce for every $5 they spend at the Virginia Avenue Park market through Hunger Action LA’s Market Match program.

Rivera-Krouse said she wants to keep partnering with regional organizations like Hunger Action LA as well as local institutions like Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Avery said upon retiring that one of her great successes as manager was introducing salad bars with produce from the market in SMMUSD schools in 1997. The program has since dissolved because of changes in district leadership, Avery said.

Rivera-Krouse said she wants to start on a fresh footing with SMMUSD.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to get reacquainted with the district and investigate what worked and didn’t,” she said.

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