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Meet ‘Cherry,’ La Jolla’s new farmers market shuttle

red shuttle called cherry parked at the farmers market in La Jolla

The Open Aire farmers market in La Jolla has sprouted a parking shuttle with the addition of “Cherry,” a six-seater golf cart that is providing rides to market patrons between their parking spots in The Village and the market.

The Open Aire market is held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday mornings on Girard Avenue near Genter Street, a temporary shift from its usual location on the grounds of La Jolla Elementary School due to campus renovations. 

The weekly market began nearly 25 years ago, with a portion of proceeds going to support the school.

As the move to Girard Avenue – which has necessitated a temporary closure of the street – has meant a loss of dozens of parking spaces, Sherry Ahern, market founder, thought the addition of a parking shuttle would help those who now have to park farther away. 

“Anyone who needs a ride, we’re there for them,” she said, noting the service is free.

The road to securing Cherry was paved with community effort: the school’s foundation, whom Ahern approached about funding the golf cart idea, could only afford enough for a used model. 

New golf carts are “fairly expensive,” Ahern said.

The market found a supporter in Robert Mackey, owner of La Jolla Golf Carts Sales & Rentals

“[Mackey] said, ‘I want you to have a new one, and I want you to have the biggest battery,’” Ahern said. “He’s so generous; he paid the difference” between the costs of a used and new cart.

Mackey also paid the tax on the cart and threw in a cover for Cherry, Ahern said. 

To outfit Cherry for her market debut, Ahern turned to Mike Davey of Davey Auto Body in La Mesa, whose low riders have appeared in the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival, which Ahern also founded to support La Jolla public schools.  

“They are pieces of art,” Ahern said of Davey’s cars. 

Davey wrapped Cherry and gave her red, black, and chrome rims, among other upgrades, as a donation.

“He put the longest, most perfect eyelashes on [Cherry] on the front lights,” Ahern said. “She is gorgeous.”

Market staff members named the red cart “Cherry” in honor of Ahern, not only for the rhyming first names but also because Ahern’s unofficial market title is “Head of Lettuce,” Ahern said. 

In the month since Cherry has been in use, she has garnered a positive reception.

“I can’t even tell you the amount of people that come up to her,” Ahern said. “Everybody loves it. It’s so cute.”

The Open Aire market will use Cherry beyond when the La Jolla Elementary campus reopens for market use, which is expected to happen in 2024. 

“Cherry is planting the seed to harvest more opportunity,” Ahern said. “By planting that seed, we’re all going to grow.”

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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