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Ferry Plaza Farmers Market A Magnet For Food, Foodies, And Fun

November 4, 2016

“We recently moved to San Francisco from Washington, D.C. and soon after we arrived, we heard a lot about the Farmers Market and wanted to check it out. We were really blown away by the crowds and the setting,” said a frequent shopper at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

“It’s an amazing gathering place for people all around San Francisco. Delicious food, beautiful flowers, and produce representing the greatest northern California has to offer,” his fiancée added. “We were shocked by the diversity of the merchants and by the crowds. It is the place to be on a Saturday morning.”

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The couple lives only a few blocks away in SOMA, but the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a magnet for anyone in any Bay Area neighborhood. The Market is an event, drawing throngs from all over the city.

The Market is located at the foot of Market Street on the Embarcadero on the south side of the Ferry Building in the shadow of the historic Clock Tower. Shoppers have a panoramic view of the Bay and the sculpture-like Bay Bridge.

The location makes the Market accessible by land and water on public transportation — North Bay residents take the ferry from Sausalito and Larkspur to consume the food, shop the organic produce, and people-watch. There is Caltrain from the South Bay and Muni buses and the F car running along the Embarcadero for visitors and San Francisco resident. The market is a mecca for walkers and bikers from nearby neighborhoods. There is validated parking for car drivers.

The Ferry Building Farmers Market is open every Saturday, all year, rain or shine, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Farmers Market is also held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Ferry
Building. There are pop-up Markets like the one in Mission Rock around town. More than 25,000 people a week frequent the markets, according to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), the non-profit operator of the markets.

CUESA is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system. That is why the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a certified organic market featuring fresh, organic produce grown on small, local and regional California
farms. The array of produce — deep purple grapes, juicy figs, freshly sprouted lentils and alfalfa, tender baby bok choy, almonds and dried fruit, bunches of miniature carrots, and baskets of ripe tomatoes, eggs
and oysters, fish, and meat — is a visual feast.

Local artisans sell their breads and cheeses. Growers offer bouquets of lavender and huge bundles of sunflowers or dahlias. The farmers come from nearby Marin coastal producers like Green Gulch Farm in Muir Beach and Star Route Farms in Bolinas both known for their delicate lettuces or Central Valley growers like Yerena Farms with rich raspberries, or from the north like Philo apple growers Bates and Schmidt.

The food purveyors — noted San Francisco restaurants and chefs — draw huge crowds: Donna’s handmade corn tamales filled with squash or other organic ingredients accompanied by a side of black beans or the Hayes Street Grill/Vicolo Pizza, the Market’s first restaurant. More than 20 years ago, the stand sold spicy grilled corn to raise money to support the fledgling endeavor.

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The first Market in September, 1993 was a one-time harvest market on the Embarcadero. Since then, the Market has had several nearby locations. It moved to its permanent home in 2003 when the Ferry Building restoration was completed.

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a show not tell experience of the benefits of sustainable farming — the value of green open spaces to produce and meet the culinary needs and tastes of urban dwellers; agriculture that replenishes not robs the soil of nutrients; organically grown produce rather than fruits and vegetables laden with pesticides and herbicides that pollute air, water, and food.

At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, you can relish the beauty and bounty of the Bay Area, delight in nurturing your taste buds, health, and the environment, and spend a fascinating few hours with Bay Area chefs, farmers, growers, visitors, and neighbors.

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