Meeting My New City

As I did in New York, I’ve made finding farmers’ markets a way to learn the transit systems and lay of the city.  On Wednesday, this gave me the chance to spend some time outside in the gorgeous (springtime!?!) sunshine, learning some of the streets of SF and (eventually) finding a fantastic farmers’ market (the Heart of the City Market, open Wed & Sun 7-5).  The produce there blew my New York accustomed seasonal mindset.  Green beans?  Sugar snap peas?  Strawberries!?!  (The tree blooming on my corner could have hinted that it’s spring.)

I set out in search of the market by hopping on the Muni train just a block from my front door and hopping off 20 minutes later.  Then, I walked around for a good half hour, maybe more, trying to find the market.  My extended quest occurred because the HOC market website shows a google map with a search for “UN Plaza, Civic Center” which provides a location about 6 blocks away from both the UN Plaza and the market.  Through the magic of the web, I was able to find the actual location (and to be fair the market’s website does say that it is by the BART and Muni Civic Center stops, which it is)!

Heading back to public transit and a shot at the alternate location, I found the market, full of folks form all walks of life.  A thriving market in a city needs to appeal to people from many backgrounds and different income levels.  This one does.  Old chinese ladies, young enviro-types, middle-aged black professional women and many others perused the stands along with me.  We browsed piles and piles of veggies, some organic, some not, some neatly stacked, others haphazardly piled for the throngs of customers crowding around.

At first, I mostly saw broccoli rabe, cabbage, citrus and sweet potatoes, all things that make sense for late winter in a moderate climate.  Then came the more surprising bits, fresh herbs, green beans, snap peas, tomatoes and strawberries!  Apparently, there is a reason CA is described as a garden paradise – it’s amazing what will grow here in February.  Of course, this all takes a lot of work by the farmers who grow this produce, and some of it is very intensely farmed.  Hoop and green houses and high tunnels, and lots labour, are required to grow strawberries and snap peas and bell peppers at this time of year.  Several stands were certified organic or described themselves as pesticide free, which requires even more thought and work.  I’m glad the farmers do it – their produce is what makes my kitchen a joy to be in.

Now, on to that kitchen!

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