Hey everyone, Amber here! I’ve been wanting to do a review like this for such a long time and now it is finally happening. As with most millennials, I love myself a good farmers market. What’s not to love really? They’re fun, relatively inexpensive, and by shopping at them, you’re supporting your local community. So I bring to you a review of three farmer’s markets ranging in size, price, and overall experience so hopefully, you’ll end up loving them as much as I do!
I’ve arranged the reviews in order of the size of the farmers market, ranging from small to large for everyone’s convenience. Enjoy!
Oh Noe Valley. I love this place. It’s warm here, there are babies and dogs running everywhere, and did I mention it’s warm?!
The farmers market here is located on 24th Street in between Sanchez and Vicksburg across the street from Martha & Brothers Coffee. It is held every Saturday from 8am - 1pm.
The best way to describe the vibe that this farmers market has is familial and intimate. There are a lot of families in Noe Valley, and as you would expect, many of the people at the farmers market with me were families with children. There is a play structure for kids and also live music, which I really enjoyed. Seating is also available, so you can enjoy your tasty treats immediately after purchase!
Now let’s break things down a little bit more. This market has 9 farm vendors putting it in the smaller category, which I would mark as both a pro and a con. On the one hand, it could be seen as a good thing because it’s less overwhelming and you can get in and out relatively quickly. On the other hand, fewer vendors means less variety and price flexibility. For me, this is what I struggled with the most: not having the flexibility to price match with other vendors.
As with most farmer’s markets, produce isn’t the only thing sold there. There are about 6 food vendors, varying from juice all the way to bread and honey. With such limited supply of vendors, customers are extremely loyal and know the value of the product in hand. Therefore, this market can be seen as a little more pricey than most others. Typically people spend anywhere from 15-30 minutes here. To summarize, great weather, higher in price, and good for families.
Stonestown Farmers' Market is located in the fog bank in the Lake Merced district of the city. It's held year-round behind the Stonestown Galleria directly next to the UA Theatre every Sunday from 9-1pm.
This market sucks you in just a little bit more. There are 65 vendors at this location, ranging from produce to fresh eggs. With the dramatic increase in vendors from the previous location, you spend a little more time walking around to find the best deal. This gives you more wiggle room to get the biggest bang for your buck. This market is also one well-suited for SF families - there is always live music and games laid out for kids to play with while parents shop.
Perhaps the biggest pro of this market is the parking situation. There is tons of parking all around the market, so you’re guaranteed to find a spot pretty easily. The food vendors here are great as well. My go-to favorite has to be the freshly made dumplings - they’re pretty cheap, filling, and delicious. And you know that if there’s always a line, it’s got to be great.
If you’re looking to really get your money’s worth for great quality produce, come visit this location on Sundays! You won’t regret it!
FERRY PLAZA FARMERS MARKET
Alas, we’ve come to the end. The grand finale. I chose to review this market because unlike the rest, it’s the one I found myself spending the most time at, and quite easily too.
This market is located at the Ferry Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm, and Saturdays from 8am-2pm. With more than 100 vendors encompassing the Ferry Building, this is a great way to end this review.
Now, the weekday version of this market is not as big as Saturday’s show, but it still exudes the essence of the big one. Sprinkled with an array of food to farmed goods, it's important to try and stay focused as you walk the grounds of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Since this location is so big, it’s very easy to get sidetracked and lose focus of what you came for.
My suggestion is to take an initial lap around the market to see if anything catches your eye, and then come back to buy things later - you might find a better deal on the other side.
Overall, if you and your family are looking to spend the day along the water with tourists, come to this market on Saturday. However, if you don’t want your shopping experience to be shared with tourists, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s markets are your best bet.
WHY SHOP LOCAL?
Shopping at farmers markets is a great thing to do because you really can taste the difference in the quality of the product. These farmers are passionate about growing quality produce and they want everyone to know their passion. Also, shopping locally supports small business owners and non-corporate farmers, and they’re the best, aren’t they?! Shopping locally can also reduce your carbon footprint: by buying locally, you eliminate the need for transporting goods over vast distances. The pollution produced in the process of transporting produce can be significant, so buying local is also good for Mother Earth!
Check out CUESA's seasonality charts to see what is in season. The less your food has to travel, the fresher it is!
Also, don’t forget to bring your reusable bags! Happy shopping!