A Market Reflection | CUESA

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September 14, 2007

A Market Reflection

Here we take a moment to pause and reflect on the 15 year history of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Had it not been for the hard work of some extraordinarily visionary people; for the rich soils of our region; for the skill and spirit of all the growers and other market sellers; for such a strong and dedicated community of food-loving urbanites; and for the earthquake that buckled the freeway and led to its removal, finally reconnecting the city to its waterfront, the market would not have come to be.

early marketIn the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook (written by Peggy Knickerbocker and Christopher Hirsheimer and published by Chronicle Books, 2006) our founding Executive Director, Sibella Kraus, eloquently recounts the creation and evolution of the market. Here, she describes the first market, a one-time event in the Plaza in front of the Ferry Building:

On a glorious Saturday in September 1992, over ten thousand people streamed into the Embarcadero to buy produce from more than one hundred of the best local organic and specialty-crop farmers, to feast on “street food” made by over a dozen of the city’s best restaurants, and to rediscover the waterfront. There was no turning back. In May 1993, the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market opened as a weekly certified farmers’ market…

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was operated by a newly created organization, the San Francisco Public Market Collaborative. The collaborative’s board of directors and advisory board, brought together by Tom [Sargent] and me, were made up of leading restaurateurs, farmers, planners, and architects, as well as a food historian, a poet, and a farmland preservation advocate. They all shared a common dream of creating a great public market for San Francisco…

Within a couple of years, the market had become the city’s Saturday living room. Shoppers became regulars, ever-more knowledgeable about the distinctions between Brooks, Van, and Bing cherries; and puntarella, Treviso, and Castelfranco chicories.

In 1997, operations expanded when the collaborative began running a Tuesday market in Justin Herman Plaza. In 2000, the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was taken over by the collaborative’s educational sister organization, CUESA, which up to that point had concentrated solely on developing programs to teach urban residents more about the food they were buying at the market.

We are proud of the market’s 15 year history, complete with high accolades, regrettable blunders, growth spurts, and growing pains. Over the years, we have bid farewell to sellers who retired, moved onto other ventures, or sadly passed on, and excitedly welcomed new faces and foods. We hope you will join us on September 30 in celebrating our rich history, wonderful community, and hopeful future!

About CUESA

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »