History of the Market | CUESA

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History of the Market

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market began in September of 1992 as a one-time Ferry Plaza Harvest Market, with farmers and local restaurants gathering on a Sunday morning in the middle of the Embarcadero Roadway. Only three years earlier, a two-tiered freeway had run along this roadway, separating the city from its waterfront and the historic Ferry Building. But the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake buckled a portion of the freeway, and with its removal came the opportunity to re-envision the waterfront and ultimately provide home once again to a public market.

The success of the initial farmers market event allowed organizers to establish a weekly California Certified Farmers Market the following spring. Every Saturday the plaza was transformed into a vibrant place to eat, shop, and learn. This market—with its focus on outstanding quality and sustainably grown produce—quickly developed a dedicated following, enabling more and more farmers to come to San Francisco to sell their produce directly to urban consumers.

In 1994, the organizational body of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market formally organized as CUESA, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. The name and nonprofit status acknowledged the founding vision of a market that educates, as well as feeds, its shoppers.

With a growing customer base and our proximity to the downtown financial district, we expanded in 1995 to include a Tuesday midday farmers market in Justin Herman Plaza, across from the Ferry Building. This landmark but long-neglected building was slated for renovation, and a critical component in the redevelopment of the interior spaces was the knowledge that the farmers market would be set up along the building’s perimeter. While waiting for completion of this redevelopment, the market relocated from Justin Herman Plaza to a parking lot on Green Street in the late 1990s.

The spring of 2003 brought the completion of the Ferry Building renovation and CUESA’s achievement of its 10-year goal to establish a permanent home. The number of markets doubled, expanding seasonally to include a Thursday night market and Sunday market. Educational programming expanded, with free weekly cooking demonstrations and farmer interviews, and a “Sustainable Agriculture A-Z” photomural exhibit, which visually depict concepts in sustainable farming with each letter of the alphabet, in the arcades of the Ferry Building.

Today, CUESA operates the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market year-round on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, while offering numerous free and low-cost educational programs to help urban dwellers of all ages learn about their food, where it comes from, and how to grow, select, and prepare it.

In 2013, CUESA celebrated 20 years of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and the community of farmers, artisans, chefs, and shoppers who have helped grow it over the years.

 

About CUESA

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. Learn More »