In a food-crazed city like San Francisco, it should come as no surprise that there are several outstanding farmers markets operating all over the city. Indeed, as one of the first and most important farm-to-table regions in the country, spotting a celebrity chef or farmer amongst the crowds of people are as commonplace as the ordinary consumer. Yet while some farmers’ markets are quite visible, where are some of the other top spots to visit for both entertainment and a superb selection of fresh produce, meats and dairy products? The following are just five of the best in San Francisco.
Alemany Farmers’ Market
100 Alemany Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Hours: Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Often referred to as the “people’s market” Alemany Farmers’ Market was the first of its kind in California, having been founded on August 12, 1943. Moved four years later to its current location just south of the Bernal Heights neighborhood, this popular market operates every Saturday, rain or shine and is well known to offer some of the best prices amongst all outdoor produce markets in the Bay Area. On a typical Saturday, the market will have about 100 vendors, many of which offer fresh organic produce that is certified by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). Despite its legendary status as the “granddaddy of California farmers’ markets) and widespread popularity, getting to the market can be a challenge as its location near Highways 280 and 101 might be tricky to find and parking can get scarce by mid-morning. Nevertheless, the parking lot is quite large and there is no fee to park, which is a blessing in San Francisco. The closest BART station is at Glen Park about 1.5 miles away and may require a connection on Muni bus No. 23.
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
Hours: Saturdays from 8 a.m.to 2 p.m., Tuesdays/Thursdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Due to its prime location in front of the Ferry Building and convenient access to public transportation, the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market is easily the most visited outdoor produce markets in the Bay Area. Managed by the nonprofit organization Center of Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), this farmers’ market is considered among the country’s best and is well-known for hosting some of the area’s top farmers in addition to attracting many leading chefs who seek to purchase the freshest organic produce possible. The Market is open on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays rain or shine, with Saturdays easily drawing the largest crowds. Also on hand on Saturdays are free educational demos, including upcoming events like Market to Table demos by William Werner on June 23 and Pim Techamuanvivit and Brandon Rice on June 30 and Sana Javeri Kadri on July 14. Located along the Embarcadero, the Ferry Building is easily accessible by bike or rideshare and is also serviced by BART and San Francisco Muni.
Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market
2 Marina Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94123
Hours: Sundays 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Although quite small in comparison to the larger local farmers’ markets, the Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market makes up for its size with superb fresh organic produce and exceptional views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Hosted by the Golden Gate National Park Service and presented by the California Farmers’ Market Association, the Fort Mason market is open every Sunday rain or shine and typically offers more than 35 farmers and vendors, as well as live music and entertainment from local artists. Parking at Fort Mason isn’t generally an issue although it does require a fee starting at $3 for the first hour and $6 between one and two hours. Additional parking may be found near Ghirardelli Square a short walk away and Muni bus lines 28, 30, 30X, 43, 47 and 49 all serve Fort Mason Center. What also may be of interest to visitors to Fort Mason Center on Friday evenings is Off the Grid, an enormous mobile food gathering featuring some of San Francisco’s best mobile gourmet food vendors.
Heart Of The City Farmers’ Market
United Nations Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: Sundays from 7 a.m.to 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Located at the United Nations Plaza near City Hall, the Heart of the City Farmers’ is the only independent, farmer-operated non-profit farmers’ market in San Francisco. First opened in 1981, the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market has a mission to support and small farmers and make fresh food available to low-income customers who might not be able to afford adequate nutrition in the City. Heart of the City also distributes more than $1 million annually in food assistance at its onsite information tent, provides educational programs for low-income individuals and offers the largest farmers’ market EBT program in California. Heart of the City features a few dozen vendors who accept cash, credit cards and market tokens which may be purchased at the information tent. Additionally, the market accepts alternate forms of currency from food assistance programs like WIC, EBT, and EatSF. With its location very close to Market Street, United Nations Plaza is easily accessible by BART at the Civic Center station and with San Francisco Muni.
Stonestown Farmers’ Market
3521 20th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132
Hours: Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Known as the “best family oriented” farmers’ market in San Francisco, Stonestown Farmers’ Market has been serving the west side of the city for nearly 10 years. Situated on one of the outlying parking lots of the Stonestown Galleria shopping mall near 19th Street/Highway 1, this lively farmers’ market is managed by the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM), which operates six other certified farmers’ markets in the Bay Area and represents more than 300 family farmers, specialty food purveyors and local artisans. Also not far from San Francisco State University, Stonestown farmers’ market typically has about 65 vendors on hand to sell fresh organic produce, baked goods, ethnic treats and other great food items. Free onsite parking is quite plentiful and Muni’s M line has a light rail stop in front of Stonestown Galleria on 19th Street/Highway 1.