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Barbara Koh

Civic Center Farmers Market Now Open Fridays

By August 22, 2012

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Fmers Mkt Civ Ctr
Photo courtesy of HOCFM.

The ever-bountiful and lively farmers market at San Francisco's Civic Center has just added a third day to its weekly schedule, and is open year-round on Fridays, rain or shine.

The independent, nonprofit farmer-run market, with the official and apt name of Heart of the City Farmers Market, has been open at United Nations Plaza on Wednesdays and Sundays for more than three decades. In its produce and food offerings, vendors, customers and ambiance, it has variety that you won't find at other farmers markets in the Bay Area.

Pomegranates, persimmons and six varieties of Asian pears are supplied by Mohammed Afzal, a Pakistan native who majored in pomology (the study and cultivation of fruit) at University of California-Davis before starting his farm 30 years ago. The Medrano family trucks in its fresh flowers all the way from Royal Oaks, near Watsonville. Third-generation farmer Tony Mellow, who grows apricots, pears, pumpkins and vegetables in the South Bay, has been selling at the Civic Center farmers market since day one in 1981. On any given market day, you might find yard-long beans, fresh and dried dates, Chinese celery, the bizarre looking Buddha's hand (a citrus fruit), bundles of beets with dirt still clinging to them, kumquats, just-hatched eggs, pomelos, nuts and probably something you've never seen before.  There are also vendors offering baked treats, kettle corn, hummus and other prepared foods.

The market draws workers from City Hall, the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Public Library and surrounding office buildings on their lunch breaks, neighborhood residents, students from Hastings Law School and the Art Institute of California, and curious tourists. (If employees at the recently opened Twitter headquarters ever decided to cook rather than live off of the company-provided meals, they'd no doubt want to shop there, too).

And psst, prices at the Heart of the City Farmers Market are generally lower than at markets elsewhere. The nonprofit organization subsidizes the farmers' participation fees so that they in turn can keep prices affordable for the neighborhood's predominantly low-income residents.

Heart of the City Farmers Market
Open Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays
At United Nations Plaza, Civic Center (along Market Street between 7th and 8th streets)

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