Noe Valley Voice May 2009

Farmers Markets Sprouting Like...Sprouts

By Corrie M. Anders

The arrival of two new farmers market venues will provide Noe Valley residents with several summer opportunities to put organic and locally grown produce on the table.

Organizers who established the Noe Valley Farmers' Market on 24th Street five years ago after the Real Food grocery closed have added a second day and location in Noe Valley--at least temporarily.

Starting May 5, the new market will be in operation every Tuesday, from 3 to 7 p.m., in the parking lot of the former Bell Market at 3950 24th Street. Bell shut down its grocery store in mid-February, leaving Noe Valley without a full-service grocery until Whole Foods Market opens on the site in September.

And in the neighboring Castro District, a large farmers market opened April 29, featuring 30 vendors offering a mix of organic and non-organic foods and products. Consumers can shop at the Castro Farmers' Market every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. until it shuts down for the season on Oct. 28. The market is located on Noe Street between Market and Beaver streets.

Tuesday Market Gets a Hand

Noe Valley's Tuesday market will be smaller than the one held every Saturday in the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot on 24th Street between Vicksburg and Sanchez streets. That event, which will continue, runs 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and has about 20 vendors selling organic and natural foods.

Because of limited space, only seven or eight sellers are expected to participate at the Bell/Whole Foods site, said Leslie Crawford, one of the organizers. The farms and other vendors will sell a variety of products, including fruits and vegetables, eggs, and juices, she said.

Crawford said Whole Foods executives were "fabulous" in helping to facilitate the farmers market expansion. And Supervisor Bevan Dufty played a key role as well.

Dufty introduced legislation that asked the city to waive the estimated $900 to $1,000 in permit fees to set up the Tuesday market. Dufty said the Whole Foods location was impermanent and simply an extension of the original site.

A supervisory committee last month unanimously approved the legislation. It was expected to easily win full board approval in early May, according to Boe Hayward, Dufty's legislative aide.

Crawford said the new market would run "through the end of August, or possibly beyond, depending on when Whole Foods opens."

Whole Foods on Schedule

The national chain of upscale groceries has said it plans to open in September, following a $5 million remodeling. "So far, everything is on schedule," said Andrew Calabrese, Whole Foods' liaison to Noe Valley.

In addition to providing the farmers market site, Whole Foods is continuing a Tuesday shuttle that takes shoppers from Noe Valley to its store on Potrero Hill. The shuttle operates between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., making a continuous loop from in front of Bell/Whole Foods to the Whole Foods at 450 Rhode Island Street.

The Castro Farmers' Market will have many of the same goods found in the Noe Valley Farmers' Market, but offer them on a different day and at different hours.

"We'll have cheese and honey and olive oil and all that fun stuff," said Steve Adams, president of the Merchants of Upper Market & Castro.

With the Wednesday late-afternoon, early-evening hours, Adams said, "People can stop in after work, buy products, and hopefully visit some of the other stores in the neighborhood."