One morning, in the summer of 1981, fourteen farmers lugged the morning's pick to UN Plaza in downtown San Francisco. They set up a paltry gathering of tables and sold fresh produce, fruits, nuts and flowers to curious passers-by in the downtown thoroughfare in one of San Francisco's most rundown, crime-plagued areas. The market grew. Soon, homeless locals, struggling residents and nearby workers all had access to fresh, healthy food at a fraction of the price at expensive grocery stores.
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Thirty years later, that tradition continues today.
This week, Heart of the City farmers market celebrates its 30th anniversary. The market is the biweekly home to more than 65 farmers and producers, as well as thousands of customers, and certainly not just the wealthy ones: more than 75 percent of food stamps used at farmers markets in San Francisco are used at Heart of the City.
And fortunately for San Francisco, similar markets can be found all over the city, almost every day.
Here's to thirty more years of healthy, sustainable eating with a farmers market for every day of the week:
After more than three years of work by the Glen Park merchants association, the neighborhood finally has its own farmers market, and it even offers an incentive program for EBT/CalFresh tokens. The market offers a good selection of farms, alongside loads of prepared foods and specialty merchants.
Until this April, Monday was an empty hole on the farmers market calendar. But thanks to the 50 Fremont Plaza market, you can now score enough fresh produce, tamales, hummus and kettle corn to cure any Monday hangover. The selection may be limited, but hey, it's Monday.
Tuesday is the newest addition to the Ferry Building Farmers Market trifecta, and we love it for its strong selection of fruit and flowers. Of course, the usual farms are present, but Tuesday also offers morning-goers a delicious selection of persimmons, kumquats, cherimoyas, feijoas, cactus pears and other hard-to-find fruits.
Located in UN Plaza, Heart of the City Farmers Market is open on Wednesdays and Sundays, and offers better deals than are available at the more popular -- and pricier -- Ferry Building market. On Wednesdays, the market also offers plenty of lunch stands for the 9-5 crowd, as well as musicians and street performers. Heart of the City also offers many ethnic ingredients like raw sugar cane that can be hard to find at other markets.
While the Saturday market is CUESA's big day at the Ferry Building, the FiDi crew knows that the Thursday lunch booths are the best in town. Steaming bowls of rich Hapa Ramen, spicy Korean tacos from Namu and the best sandwiches in the universe at RoliRoti. We're not kidding: enormous hunks of rustic sourdough slathered with meat drippings and topped with loads of fresh greens, tender lime-squeezed chicken and crispy porchetta, hot of the grill. Have mercy.
It is with a heavy heart that we report that, at least to our knowledge, there is no San Francisco farmers market. (And if we're wrong, please let us know in the comments section before our farm basket goes empty!) Fortunately, plenty can be found just across the pond in Oakland. Our favorite is the Old Oakland Farmers Market where shoppers find all of the usual suspects, as well as a healthy assortment of hard-to-find Asian produce mixed in. Not to mention, bright, sunny weather.
Arguably the best market in the City (and definitely the most popular), the Saturday incarnation of CUESA's Ferry Building Farmers Market is a six-hour extravaganza of the best meat, produce, dairy and specialty products (think local rosemary sea salts) in the Bay Area. And if you haven't had enough by market's close at 2pm, you can always stick around for some chicken tortilla soup at Mijita.