The Heart of the City Farmer’s Market will be moving from its 40-year home in United Nations Plaza to a nearby parking lot next week—and the move, which will take place on Sept. 3, has some farmers frustrated with what they call a lack of communication with the city.
“They [the city] clearly don’t give a crap about us, they’re not even pretending to give a crap about us,” said Mark Bartle, co-owner of Two Dog Farm, who has been tabling at the market since 1985.
In its place a new skate park will be installed, along with chess and ping pong tables—a move the city hopes will encourage more families to gather and discourage the rampant open air drug market.
The Civic Center farmer’s market brings the area to life and provides healthy, affordable food.
Farmers said that the move was announced without warning, and that many of them learned from the city’s press release.
“It was not even a month’s notice. I’m sure it’s been in planning for a long time, but they didn’t even tell us,” said Moazum Afzal from M.A. Farms. “So farmers can’t really take a stand.”
In the new space, vendors will not be able to park their trucks behind their booths like they currently do, which frustrated many farmers.
One vendor, Pedro Medina from Medina Farms, said he was worried this would make his truck a target for car theft, and said he had already had a truck stolen while working at a market in Oakland.
“You depend on your vehicles to move around and everything,” he said. “While I’m working I’m not going to know if anyone is breaking my windows.”
“We rely on our trucks to charge our phones, to take a break — this is an all-day market and we’re on our feet the entire time,” said Afzul.
The farmers are making a last-ditch effort to get the city to reconsider, but the Mayor’s Office and Rec-Park are determined to move the market—at perhaps the worst time of year
Some stands had taped up signs asking patrons to contact the mayor’s office or SF Rec and Parks Department to advocate against the move. The market itself had a fold out sign advertising the change.
“They claim that’s a wonderful spot over there but it’s gonna be hotter, and the parking is going to be more problematic for the customers,” said Bartle.
The Mayor’s Office and the Rec-Park Department did not respond to calls for comment.
Heart of the City has been operating at UN Plaza since 1981, hosting 55 local farmers and servicing over 20,000 customers on Sundays and Wednesdays.
It also has a large food assistance program, reporting that over $4 million is spent each year at the market through CalFresh, WIC, EatSF, and various voucher programs.
“It’s the bread and butter of San Francisco… it’s affordable, it’s for everyone,” said Nibby Bartle from Two Dog Farm.
While the Heart of the City move has led to mixed reactions, farmers like Medina hoped that customers would support the market no matter where it goes. “We’re like a family,” he said. “As long as they support us we’re gonna be okay.”