In an area where we have one of the world’s renowned farmers’ markets, it is easy to overlook neighborhood markets. But the truth is that often we don’t have the time or the will to elbow through the crowds at the Ferry Building. On the weeks when you’d like to avoid the weekend farmers’ market crush, or you’d simply like some drama-free shopping at markets that will provide you with many of your necessities, consider one of the Bay Area’s neighborhood markets.

The Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, located in San Francisco’s civic center, is a market like no other. With a vividly urban feel, this market is a street performer to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market ballet. The market celebrated it’s 25th anniversary of existence this year, and is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the area.

Where fruits and vegetables at the Ferry Plaza Market are of the utmost quality and are so impeccable they sometimes feel like museum exhibits, the Heart of the City Market’s fruits and vegetables are piled high and seem to be combined with seconds and slightly bruised fruit.

The price difference reflects the difference in quality, and bargains at this market abound. The customers who shop the Heart of the City market are the most ethnically diverse that I have seen at any market in San Francisco, and everyone was represented — from homeless looking for a bargain, to Indian and Asian families, to football fans picking up some peanuts before Sunday’s 49ers game.

“Markets breathe, they rest, they laugh, they yell. They absorb all the life around them and multiply it.” This is a quote I came across recently in Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford, and it applies exactly to the feel of the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market.

The market takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays, beginning at 7 am and closing at 5.30 pm on Wednesdays and 5.00 pm on Sundays. That’s over 20 hours of market time in two days. I would highly recommend a trip to this market.

Because most of the farmers at the Heart of the City market don’t display signs, I didn’t get many vendor names. When I attended this market on November 19, I counted more than ten vegetable vendors, more than five fruit vendors, three flowers and plant vendors, and egg vendor, a fish vendor, a pistachio vendor, and one prepared food vendor. I did not note any hot, prepared food vendors, though I have been told that there is a tamale vendor on Wednesdays. I also didn’t see any cheeses or meats other than fish.

Heart of the City Farmers Market
Market Street
(between Seventh and Eighth streets)
(415) 558-9455
Wednesdays, 7:00 am – 5:30 pm
Sundays, 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Vendors in attendance that I noted included:

MacDonald’s Organic Farm (Sebastopol). Apples.
Phan Farm (Elk Grove). Asian vegetables.
Schletewitz Family Farms (Sanger). Grapes, stone fruit.
Sukhi’s. Prepared Indian foods.
Yerena Farms (Watsonville). Berries.

To read about the anniversary of the Heart of the City Market, go to the San Francisco Chronicle article. More photos of this market posted on Life Begins at 30.

This post is one in a series covering Bay Area neighborhood farmers’ markets.
Berkeley Farmers’ Market (Thursday)
Fairfax Farmers’ Market (Wednesday)
Fillmore Farmers’ Market (Saturday)
Marina Farmers’ Market (Saturday)
Mountain View Farmers’ Market (Sunday)
Pt. Reyes Station Farmers’ Market (Saturday)
Temescal Farmers’ Market (Sunday)

Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, Sunday 21 November,2006Jennifer Maiser

  • Anonymous

    Usually there’s also a cheese vendor, a falafel stand, a raw foods (prepared food, I think its Alive! brand) vendor. And if you get there early enough, you can buy live chickens. There are generally more vendors there on Wednesdays, because there aren’t really any other markets on that day to set up shop at. The tamales are awesome and there are several vegetarian tamale options.


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

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