The Thursday market reopens this week as Foodwise

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Heritage jewels of the modern farmer’s market, require two essentials: outdoor pollination and heritage. These same factors also make the Mission Community Market a popular afternoon excursion.

The community market will return for its 12th year on Thursday in a celebration that will also serve as the start of the rebranding of the market’s parent organization, the non-profit organization officially known as CUESA, or Center for urban education on sustainable agriculture. The 29 years and 19 syllables of their previous title will become one word, two syllables, and a reframing of priorities: Foodwise.

“We’re talking about education, farmers markets and community,” says executive director Christine Farren, reiterating the brand’s new tagline.

“We want to remain a leader and an innovator. And our priorities are also changing in response to the pandemic and in response to the long-overdue racial equity reckoning. We must therefore build on our strengths, but also differentiate ourselves as an educational organization. »

But it will also continue to be fun, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday on 22nd Street between Mission and Valencia streets. This week it will feature a children’s tent, tote bags and live music from Manos Lindas, in partnership with Little Mission Studio.

The Foodwise name was previously associated with the brand through its youth programs, Foodwise Kids, which offers free nutrition and wellness programs through SFUSD and Foodwise Teens, which offers paid internships to students in San Francisco. . Expanding the name beyond these programs is an effort to refocus the organization on its mission to educate, uplift marginalized communities, and usher in a new generation of food leaders.

“When you have a market in a place where people live, it will always be a little different,” says Lulu Meyer, COO of Foodwise. “It’s like a little community party every Thursday afternoon. There are still a lot of suppliers to coordinate, a lot of work to do, but it’s a different vibe.

“We want the market to be a place where you can walk in to get just about anything you need, and maybe have dinner, and sit with your neighbors and listen to music for a little while, have a little community space to hang out where most of your purchases are picked up,” says Meyer.

To bring the market to fruition, Foodwise coordinates with six different agencies on a yearly or monthly basis, including the SFMTA, which requires the market to pay a meter retrieval fee for all parking meters along 22nd Street while the market hinders their use. Monthly reports should also be made to the California Market Match Consortium to maintain federal grant support for the Market Match program, which offers buyers using EBT up to $15 in matching funds, a program that has doubled since the onset of Covid. .

Each week, the street is closed before vendors start arriving around 2 p.m. to give them space to set up their tents without the threat of oncoming traffic.

“That’s kind of the fun part,” says Raquel Goldman, owner of Norte 54, a pan dulce stand that joined the market in 2020. Her day typically starts at 4 a.m. on Market Thursday, preparing the pan dulce in the kitchen she shares with Nopalito. on 18th Street.

“There have definitely been times when it’s just like, come on, come on until 2 p.m.,” she says. “I think the big transition for me is finally being in the car and…it’s like I can finally take a deep breath like, ‘ok, you got it, you made it.’ Because then the hardest part, the hard work is done, and the rest is just interacting with people.

For many sellers, this is where heritage comes into play.

“Being a Latino with a Latino-focused business, I really want to make sure I have a presence in a neighborhood that exposes me to the people whose ingredients these are,” says Emmanuel Galvan, owner of Bolita, which specializes in masa. fresh, the tortillas, soup, Guisadosand sauces.

“I want to make sure that I’m not just making these things accessible to a farmer’s market audience, but also to Mission neighbors who are there.”

For the most part, the market has seen little change in its vendor roster over its many years of operation – a value that Foodwise encourages. Some new operations, like by Goldman sweet panand the Galvan fee masses were added to the list, completing the offerings in response to what buyers asked to see.

The organization also strives to prioritize suppliers who have fewer direct marketing opportunities and offer a unique product; it’s a painstaking curation process, which boils down to a careful list ranging from breads and cheeses to artisanal body care products and dog food.

“You can put your product on the shelf, but then someone sees it and tells me I don’t know what it is and it’s gone… in the market, you can arouse the curiosity of people. people,” says Galavan.

“It’s something special at the farmer’s market to get a lot of information from the people who make the produce and grow it. You can really interact and answer questions.

Photo of Lola C. Chavez 2020
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