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Sowing Seeds of Time: The Bountiful History of San Francisco's Alemany Farmer's Market

December 26, 2023

Sowing Seeds of Time: The Bountiful History of San Francisco's Alemany Farmer's Market

Sowing Seeds of Time: The Bountiful History of San Francisco's Alemany Farmer's Market




Introduction: A Market as Diverse as the City Itself

In the Bernal Heights neighborhood, where the fog-kissed hills meet the urban streets and the I-280/US 101 interchange, there lies a bustling market providing fresh produce from locally sourced vendors known as the Alemany Farmer's Market. This iconic market has a long history that extends into the hearts and bellies of San Francisco residents.

The Seed Is Planted: 1943

The Alemany Farmer's Market was founded on August 12th, 1943. As the nation faced WWII rationing, the Victory Garden Council and a group of local farmers saw an opportunity to connect directly with the community. They set up makeshift stalls at Duboce Avenue and Market Street creating a grassroots marketplace where residents could access surplus and distressed crops from neighboring counties. Four years later, the market moved to 100 Alemany Blvd where it continues to operate to this day making it not only California’s first farmer’s market but also its longest-running.

Growing Pains: From Red-Tape to Structural Tremors

As the years rolled on, the Alemany Farmer's Market experienced its fair share of growing pains. In 1943 it was illegal for farmers to sell directly to the public. The Victory Garden Council, led by John Brucato was able to circumvent this initial red tape with a loophole that allowed farmers to sell on an unused city lot as long as they sold from the back of a farmer-owned truck. Then with little warning in 1946, the City supervisors voted to kill the market persuaded by powerful grocery and wholesale produce interests. The decision was only reversed by ballot a measure where citizens overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the market. 

The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 shook the Bay Area and caused damage to the market. And once again, it bounced back.

A Feast for the Senses: Not the Pocket Book

Throughout the market’s evolution, it maintained modest prices, diverse customers, and a “local first” attitude. You’ll find an assortment of Latin and Southeast Asian ingredients unlike anywhere else. From live music, entertainment, and food trucks - it all combines to create an atmosphere that feels like a celebration of life. It's no wonder that locals and tourists alike are drawn to this market week after week.

Next time you find yourself in the city by the bay, make sure to carve out some time to explore the Alemany Farmer's Market—a historical treasure trove of flavors waiting to be discovered.


The Alemany Farmers' Market is open every Saturday from dawn to dusk.

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