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Mar 30, 2007 09:55 AM

Mariquita Farm leaving the FPFM.

Looks like we won't have Mariquita Farm at the FPFM on Saturdays anymore. Which means that the only way we can get their produce is via CSA, at the many restaurants they sell to, or by going to their farm for u-picks. A super poignant essay from Andy about the decision is linked below.

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  1. Odd that they don't try the Berkeley or Marin farmers markets. They're similar to what the Ferry Plaza market was before the restoration of the building.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Yes, it is too bad they don't switch to another market.

      Good to know that they will continue the u-pick tomatoes and are planning " America’s first Pimiento de Padron u-pick."

      They have thought this through and it seems an emotional as well as a financial decision. Though Ferry Plaza offers more than immediate payoff for a vendor it would seem to me. It is a chance to make contact with some of the top area restuarant chefs resulting in other business ... which is seems Mariquita has built into a different business.

      That being said, CUESA should take note of this, though from my personal experience with them, I doubt they will.

      From day one, besides my own constant harping about the need for parking that doesn't mean walking blocks, that is something I heard and continue to hear from vendors like Mariquita. The market is not conducive to produce sellers ... especially those that don't carry trendy stuff but heavier items like potatoes and melons.

      While I don't agree with the Trader Joe's comment I do agree with the sentiment from the link in the op where a person was quoted as saying ...

      "I know many people do all their grocery shopping here, but I think it’s easier to get that done at Trader Joe’s, throwing bags in the car trunk rather than lugging it back from Ferry Plaza walking. ”

      Substitute Trader Joes for almost any other farmers market in the Bay Area, as far as my own shopping habits.

      Despite living in the East Bay, I would be at the market every week were it not for the abysmal parking situation and layout. As it is now I go for the specialty products when I run out ... olive oil or jam or whatever.

      And that is what will probably happen in the long term. It will cease to be a farmers market and morph into a fancy food shop ... suitable for tourists.

      I share those memories of the market and remember the day when the stand was so fragrant with strawberries and herbs. And they capture so well the romance and peace of the market just prior to opening ....

      "the most pleasant times at every market have been the moments at dawn just before the people showed up when I could step back and admire all the colors and smells and shapes in my vegetable display. I’d pause for a moment, and then, back at Green Street, the flock of parrots from Telegraph Hill would swoop over the market, right on schedule, squawking and scandalizing in their flight as they made their way to their hidden gardens. "

      Thanks for the memories Mariquita. I'll miss you.

      1. re: rworange

        I think the main change is that there's a higher percentage of tourists due to the adjacent foodie mall and general improvements to the Embarcadero.

        I think it will remain as much of a farmers market as it is today. I know several people who do their weekly shopping there--partly because they run into their friends, have standing breakfast dates, and so on, and partly because that market still has the cream of the crop, including Andante Dairy, the Apple Farm, Della Fattoria, Dirty Girl, Knoll Farms, Tierra Vegetables.

        I don't think lack of parking's to blame for the change. At Green St. we usually had to park about four blocks away, the same distance as the Howard St. garage. At the Ferry Building, there are 60 "blue" spaces right next door at Pier 1/2, which is an improvement for anyone with mobility problems.

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        I got an email from Julia saying that they now "sell every single leaf and root with no waste" through the CSA and to restaurants. It's not that they couldn't make it at the farmers' market, but that they've developed more efficient and easier ways to make money--as she put it, they've "graduated."

      3. It is definitely a shame and I am sad to see them go. I have been buying their produce at the farmer's market for many years and also did their CSA a year or two ago - unfortunately the only locations in SF are not very centrally located for pickup. But their strawberries are divine!

        I agree with some of rworange's comments though. I have strained my neck, back and arms many a time trying to carry all my produce wares from the market back to my car a 10 minute walk away. I do still buy produce at the FPFM but sometimes don't go at all because I just don't feel "up" to all the lugging like I used to, especially in the midst of hordes of people with my heavy bags. Though I did just buy a very swoopy rolly cart that will hopefully get me back going again every Saturday I'm in town.

        4 Replies
        1. re: celeste

          That is just it. And the point of this is that vendors like Mariquita Farm are no longer making money at the market.

          Cuesa blightly brushes off these types of comments. There are a number of things they could do to make the market more conducive to produce vendors. Since I know they are not unaware of the issue, I can only assume they choose to ignore it. For the most part the unique vendors at FP are the light walkaway vendors as mentioned. Doesn't take much to carry Andante Cheese or Della Frattoria bread and that melds nicely with the tourist market which might buy picnic supplies like that.

          I miss FP. However it is cool. I've found better elsewhere ... absolutely exquisite melons and tomatoes that are not sold at FP. And Esther's German bread makes me forget about some of those FP bakers. Most of the other vendors sell elsewhere. Even Alemany has better citrus and I can pull my car up to the stand and load my trunk.

          1. re: rworange

            Ram Das Orchards has the best citrus. I think they're only at Berkeley, which also has Full Belly, Blue Heron, and River Dog.

            When I drive, I frequently have to park just as far or further from the Berkeley farmers market. When we're buying more produce than will fit in a backpack, or taking BART, we have a nice rolling cart we bought at Sur la Table, right next door to the Ferry Plaza market.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Ram Das also sells at Marin. Berkeley and Marin also have La Tercera, one of the best vendors anywhere. The new eggs at River Dog are as good as Marin Sun Farm, IMO.

              The Center St. lot is less than a block from the BFM, and only $1.50 if you leave by 12:30. Now that Berkeley meters are $1 per hour, there is no reason to search for street parking.

              I wrote Mariquita and asked them to come to Berkeley. I think they would make a good fit. Since Firme and Tip Top left, there should be space for a new vendor.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                La Tercera is great, the few months that she's around.

                Not that I'm going to pay for something I can get free four or five blocks away, but I typically get to the Berkeley market after 11, and the metered spots are usually all full.

        2. Sad. They always had such interesting produce. If I didn't stop anywhere else, I always stopped at Mariquita.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Paul H

            I don't frequent the FP market much either, but they were a must-stop. Higher quality, more variety, and lower prices than the other stalls . . . Adam Smith wouldn't approve, but it was such a boon for consumers. The herbs were great. Mariquita's website says that it supplies Bi-Rite, hope we see more there now.

          2. Any one with recent experience of their CSA and the SF pick up points either SOMA or Mission? I'm tempted, as they were my top pick for veggies -- and were nearly always the best price/quality offering. I'm going to be quite bummed to have to go elsewhere.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Joan Kureczka

              We've gotten their CSA for 3 years now. We get vegetables and flowers. I love the flowers (great tulips right now.) We currently pick up at the SOMA location. It's easiest to pick up with a car - easy to double park in that alley and run right up.

              I am always thrilled with the selection and quality of the fruits and vegetables. They just started up after the winter break. Every week they tend to have 1 fruit (crazy good oranges this week), 1 cookng green, 1 lettuce, 1 herb, 1 oniony thing (leeks, green garlic, or onions), and 1 or 2 unusual things (sorrel, dandelion greens, squash, etc.). It isn't that exact, but a good rule of thumb.

              There are just two of us, so it takes a concerted effort to go through all of it each week.
              They include a newsletter with recipes for the stuff in the box each week.

              My favorite thing about Two Small Farms is that their produce really is local. They tell you where each item comes from, mothing is shipped from thousands of miles away, and everything is from places within driving distance. Lots of other programs (Farm Fresh to You, for instance) use mostly local stuff, but do include things like bananas and mangos that just aren't local. If I wanted produce shipped in from South America, I can get that at any grocery store.

              1. re: Joan Kureczka

                I'm in the second year of picking up in the Mission. It's super convenient for me b/c you can double park on Folsom and run up and grab the bag until 10pm on Wed. night. I think they added a few locations this year but I'm happy with the Mission spot. Veggies are a nice assortment of familiar and stuff I don't buy much (like chard) so it helps me expand my veggie repertoire.
                There are also only 2 of us so we pick up every other week. Let me know if you want more details.

                As for the FPFM, I love going down there for a treat every 2-3 months or during tomato season but usually go to Alemany for the rest of my shopping and some tacos. FP is a nice stop on a sunny day to grab some produce and some prepared or specialty items for lunch that I eat on a bench down there.

                1. re: Joan Kureczka

                  I just started doing the CSA with Mariquita in the last few weeks, I love it! I pick up at SOMA on Wednesdays, very easy to double park and run up, done within minutes.
                  I've loved the produce so far, this week we even got Erbette Chard, which I long for and will sadly miss picking up at the SFFP Market.
                  I can't tell you how sad I am they won't be in SF on Sat's anymore, they alone were reason to go to the market.

                  1. re: Joan Kureczka

                    I've subscribed to their CSA for the last few years, but last year we (I split my box with a friend) were frustrated that the CSA box didn't contain the interesting veggies sold at the FP stand. We received the peppers once or twice and their lovely chard, but also a lot more cabbage and cauliflower than I wanted to see week after week in summer. I wonder if this change will free up some of that good produce for the box?

                    1. re: bernalgirl

                      We tried their CSA last year and decided not to continue this year because the produce we got wasn't very interesting and didn't have the fresh and intense flavor we were expecting from Maraquita. This leaves us $80 per month to buy fresh and tasty vegetables and fruits at the Serramonte and Ferry Plaza markets or others that we will try this year. Any suggestions for good and interesting farmers markets either in SF or within 35 miles south of the city?

                      1. re: Nancy Berry

                        The cream of the crop vendors go to:

                        Ferry Plaza on Saturday
                        Berkeley on Tuesday and Saturday
                        Marin Civic Center on Thursday and Sunday

                        Tecklenberg is worth seeking out in melon season:


                        1. re: Nancy Berry

                          Nancy, have you been to the Menlo Park Sunday market? I haven't but have hear good things about it.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            We haven't been to the Menlo Park market, Melanie, but I'll try it sometime soon and report back. Has anyone been to the Millbrae market or the South San Francisco or College of San Mateo markets? I actually like the Thursday and Saturday Serramonte markets quite a bit, but I'm always looking for new and exciting vendors. And the last time that I went to Alemany (my former weekly market) I was really disappointed in the quality of the produce.

                            And, by the way, my daughter lives in ParkMerced and the new management told the residents that they are thinking about starting a farmers market there -- I think it would be a great idea because it would serve ParkMerced, Stonestown and Westlake Apt. residents as well as SF State students. If you live in ParkMerced, send management a note via their website that you would like to see a farmers market there. It's a definite possibility -- they've already started a community garden on the grounds with SLUG so they are open to this kind of endeavor.

                    2. This is sad news. Although I must admit, I have stopped going to the FPFM as regularly as I used to (which was every week), largely because of the enormous crowds.

                      The Mariquita folks were among my favorite vendors. Fortunately I'll still be able to get their fabulous produce as long as they keep supplying Bi-Rite.