Farmers Market Love in the Time of Social Distancing

May 22, 2020

Community is community, even when we’re six feet apart. While face coverings and social distancing have become the new reality, the farmers market remains a ritual and refuge for so many of us in this time of uncertainty. Whether you are shopping in person or picking up a veggie box at our curbside pickup, know you are helping to sustain our local food system and farmers market community through these challenging times.

We asked a few of our Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Mission Community Market regulars to share what the farmers market means to them at this moment and what is bringing them joy this spring season.

John and Lolita Casazza

Saturday morning at CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a tradition for us. It’s never been more critical to have access to good, clean, and fair food while supporting the many producers who supply the market with some of the best California offers.

If there anything that we cherish, it’s fresh corn masa for making tortillas that we pick up weekly from Joe at Primavera and Lee at Tierra Vegetables (when they are at the market). Other producers that we appreciate and frequent for their weekly supply of fresh vegetables and berries are Gaby and others at Oya Organics, Rudy & Efrain at Green Thumb Organics, Sandy at McGinnis Ranch, Eatwell Farm, Sonia from Rojas Family Farm, and Poli and family from Yerena Farms. One person that we miss dearly is Javier Salmon from Yerba Santa Goat Farm. We’ve been visiting the Ferry Plaza Market since the day it opened and remember Javier’s band playing for the inauguration. We only miss the market if we’re out of the area.

Jill Koenen

The CUESA Market has been the closest to “normal” of my rare essential trips outside of our home. Sometimes it feels more essential to my mental health than my belly! Almost weekly, I have witnessed many acts of kindness, which reaffirm how important this market and the relationships it fosters are to our community. Market must-haves for mental health: fresh flowers, a fresh loaf of artisan bread, and just-picked first-of-the-season fruit (currently bursting with stone fruits and cherries)!

Anna Derivi-Castellanos

Supporting our farmers and sustainable food systems during this time is more important than ever before. With food insecurity issues in our communities increasingly more apparent, the reopening of Mission Community Market is a welcome relief. This means that not only will many more folks have access to fresh and nutritious produce (especially through the Market March program which doubles the value of EBT dollars), but also that our farmers have another outlet to sell directly to customers. I can never pass up saying hello to the Yerena family (from six feet away and through masks now, of course!), and buying their delicious berries. Early-season stone fruit has also been bringing me joy with apricots, cherries, and white peaches from Twin Girls Farm, and the spinach, herbs, pickled beets, and heirloom beans are not to be missed from Blue House Farm!

Ramona and Mark Pedersen

We both have a direct connection to farming: Mark’s dad, who is 94, was raised on a farm in the Central Valley (near Steve Kashiwase’s family!) until being interned in the camps during WWII. His brother, Mark’s uncle Mark, returned to farming when they were released and had an almond farm for many decades. My paternal grandmother’s family were native Californians who farmed and picked.

We are privileged to buy directly from the people who grow our food. We want to be a part of a sustainable food system, where the people who grow and harvest the food are treated with respect and earn a living wage. We want our kids to have a direct connection to the families who nourish us. My dad calls the farmers market our church. We consider it social justice. 

We are grateful that CUESA can maintain the market and support the farmers through this crisis. We certainly want to do the same. It is wonderful to remain connected with the friends we’ve made over the years. Even with the blur of days, seeing the seasons change⁠—with Kashiwase’s return and raspberries and blackberries coming back to Yeren⁠a⁠—keeps things in perspective and shows that the earth continues to turn. 

What does the farmers market mean to you in this time? We’d love to hear from you. Share your story.

Photo of Lisa Kashiwase and the Pedersen family by Anne Hamersky.