CUESA’s First Mission Rock Farmers Market Pop-Up Breaks Ground

Brie Mazurek, CUESA Staff
October 2, 2015

Last Sunday, against the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay, AT&T Park, construction cranes, and buildings rising out of asphalt, CUESA planted some seeds in a parking lot, much as its founders did in front of the Ferry Building 23 years ago.

At CUESA’s inaugural pop-up farmers market at The Yard at Mission Rock, residents stocked up on freshly harvested organic fruits and vegetables and got a taste of hot Italian zeppole, spicy totopos con chile, beef bone broth spiked with ginger and turmeric, and other mouthwatering products.

In a city with more than 25 farmers markets, including CUESA’s own iconic Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, why the interest in a new location?

“This is an area that doesn’t have a whole lot of farmers markets,” says CUESA’s Executive Director Marcy Coburn. “It’s a pretty stark area that’s exposed to the elements. It’s very industrial.”

But the south-of-Market Mission Rock area is rapidly changing. More than 17,000 new residents are anticipated to move to the southeastern waterfront in the coming years. “The area is ripe for this kind of new community space,” continues Marcy.

A Farmers Market That Educates

The first pop-up market included many long-time cornerstones of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, such as Eatwell Farm, Dirty Girl Produce, and Tierra Vegetables, sustainable farming exemplars who have helped build the market’s reputation over the years.

“The Ferry Plaza will always be our flagship farmers market,” says Marcy. “It is where our home is, and our offices are. The strength of our sellers and our incredible success at the Ferry Building is actually why we have the energy and ability to explore other areas in the city.”

In addition to hosting more than 25 vendors, the CUESA Classroom is also a feature of the pop-ups, with free cooking demos by local chefs and hands-on activities to celebrate the season, such as DIY pickled pepper making.

“There is a lot of interest in well-run farmers markets with an educational component,” says Marcy. “CUESA is known for our amazing programming and our commitment to the local community. We see this as an opportunity to expand our educational mission into a new area.”

Tried-and-True Meets New

For Co-Directors of Operations Dexter Carmichael and Lulu Meyer, the markets represent a chance to expand CUESA’s capacity for operating high-quality markets that provide a platform for emerging businesses, with an emphasis on new and organic farmers and innovative food crafters.

“The market at the Ferry Plaza is at capacity,” says Dexter. “We only have three markets at this site and they’re filled. Over half of the sellers at this pop-up are new to CUESA and the market system. They represent the best in our criteria.”

Lulu adds, “We wanted to give an opportunity to these people because they have great quality products. I’ve had my eye on a lot of them for a while, and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to include them. A lot of them are younger farmers, and some women farmers, too, which is awesome.”

One of those farmers was Joanna Letz of Bluma Farm, who trucked in a dazzling display of organic flowers from her new farm at Sunol AgPark, an 18-acre incubator for small-scale sustainable growers.

“Being in my first year of business, it was really great to be at a market with so many established farmers,” she says. “There were a lot of great people who turned out at the market excited to see my flowers, and I got some good feedback. For me, being in a market that CUESA is running is a big deal.”

A Warm Neighborhood Welcome

While Sunday’s turnout was modest compared to the crowded Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, the energy of the market was upbeat and breezy, with a mix of Ferry Plaza regulars and neighboring residents eager to scope out the scene.

“I sensed a real need and interest in the neighborhood,” says Dexter. “The community wants this there. I think they feel a farmers market is integral.”

Other perks of the Mission Rock? There’s ample on-site parking ($6 for 2 hours for farmers market customers) and proximity to several transit lines. Also, The Yard’s shops and restaurants offer activities, yoga, and music to make for a whole day of fun. (Not to mention the Anchor Brewing beer garden!)

CUESA will host three more pop-up markets on October 25, November 22, and December 20, each with a seasonal theme, a few vendor lineup changes, and fun and educational activities, like a fall pie contest. Depending on the success of the events, CUESA is exploring the possibility of a more permanent activation at The Yard in partnership with the San Francisco Giants and Bank of America.

“We’re really excited about this partnership because both of those iconic San Francisco organizations, like CUESA, have an interest in supporting local community and contributing positively to the local food system,” says Marcy.

As one satisfied shopper commented on Facebook, “Loved the market today—amazing vendors, and fun demos. Nice to see so many neighbors, too! Can’t wait to go again. #MakeItWeeklyPlease.”

Save the date for CUESA’s next pop-up at The Yard on Sunday, October 25. Stay tuned for updates at #cuesaattheyard.

Photos by Amanda Lynn Photography. Check out the photo album »

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CUESA’s first Mission Rock Farmers Market Pop-Up at The Yard, September 27, 2015. Check for future pop-ups. Photo by Amanda Lynn Photography.

Posted by CUESA & The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Wednesday, September 30, 2015


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