For over 25 years, dedicated family farmers and independent food purveyors from all over California have arrived at SF’s UN Plaza at dawn on Wednesdays & Sundays, setting up their temporary tents & tables to sell their produce and sundry products til about 5pm. Whether you like the wide array of greens or roasted nuts, dried fruits, dates, baked goods, cheeses, olive oils or even fresh fish & fowl, there’s something for everyone. Unlike the more pretentious and prosperous scene at the fashionable Ferry Building, this inauspicious & authentic farmer’s market is frequented by the denizens of the neighborhood, office workers on lunch break, old Chinese folks and some occasional tourists that find it upon emerging from BART. The prices are often half of what the other fancy farmer’s market might charge, and the scene about as bucolic and community orientated as one can get in “The Heart Of The City”.
If it wasn’t for the farmers & vendors who twice a week make the United Nations Plaza a lively civic gathering spot, the place is generally a desolate, if not dangerous empty expanse populated by sleepy doped up miscreants, drug dealers, ne’er do ‘ells, tweakers, stolen property salesmen and a spectacular variety of shady criminal thugs. The same city and it’s bloated bureaucracy, which had a big hand in letting the UN plaza slip into a symbolic cesspool of urban decay in the first place, now wants to manage the sole successful independently operated revitalizing factor in the area ? How uh, original…
The “Heart Of The City Farmer’s Market” at UN Plaza has long been organized and managed by an independent non-profit that was formed in 1981 starting with just 12 farmers, and some of the same vendors have been there since the inception. John Fernandez and his mother Christine Adams help manage the market that the city now has plans to “take over” after two+ decades, and they are not amused. Neither were at least a half dozen stall operators that I spoke to in an informal survey today, some who’ve been at UN Plaza since the very early days. They already dealt with this threat back in 1995, and here we go again, with a basically bankrupt bureaucracy that’s trying to dip it’s incompetent tentacles into something that isn’t broke, so why bother to fix it?