San Franciscans love their neighborhood farmers markets and Mission residents are no exception. At public meetings held in 2009 for the Mission Streetscape Plan, a community-based planning process led by the San Francisco Planning Department, participants expressed desire for a farmers market, but one that was unique to the Mission. As a result, the Mission Community Market was created in 2010.
Mission Loc@l spoke with Jeremy Shaw, the Mission Community Market’s executive director, to learn about plans for 2011. The Mission Community Market returns tonight and will be held every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Bartlett between 21st and 22nd streets.
Mission Loc@l: What is the Mission Community Market about?
Jeremy Shaw: The Mission District has so much to offer in terms of art, food and culture. There are many amazing things going on, but not everybody knows that. The Mission Community Market brings them into the public realm in a fun way.
You can get fresh and delicious produce as well as an affordable meal like barbecue or Salvadoran and Venezuelan street food. You can buy crafts like soaps and listen to live music. It’s a safe public space where kids can play and dance.
We plan to add and change the food vendors on a quarterly basis, and there will be a rotating schedule of youth programs, musicians and dancers. There is a great mix of people.
ML: Who runs the MCM?
JS: It runs on volunteers. We work in close collaboration with local businesses and associations like La Cocina. Many are advisers, others are sponsors, but what cannot go without mention are the community volunteers. Every week they publicize the musicians, build things, fundraise, set up, clean up and help with social media. Interested volunteers can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ML: What are MCM’s plans for this year?
JS: Right now, it’s about making the market economically viable, diversifying and growing. The first year of any farmers market is a difficult one, but last year we did OK. The message from vendors was about the incredible potential and how much the community really appreciated it. Once the market becomes successful, we can pour the revenues into improving the street itself.
ML: Why was Bartlett Street selected as the site for MCM?
JS: It is central and accessible by public transportation, and doesn’t serve a great traffic function. It is the perfect place to demonstrate what positive community activities can do to improve a street. It’s a little dark at night, has a lot of graffiti, and people don’t walk on it. We want to make it safer and more beautiful.
ML: How do you plan to physically improve Bartlett Street?
JS: We’ve already started by applying for grants, and we are working on murals. Tonight we will reveal a re-creation of San Francisco’s first major mural. The 200-year-old mural in Mission Dolores tells the story of the Mission and has been re-created at the site of the MCM by Jet Martinez, Ezra Eismont and Bunnie Reiss, and documented by Ben Wood.
We want to be the Mission’s next destination mural gallery, like Clarion Alley, and we are working with local property owners to make that happen. Also, we have a donation link on our website.
ML: Are there any MCM moments that stand out in your mind?
JS: It happens every week, when the farmers get there and start unloading the produce. You can be walking down this gritty urban block and all of a sudden it smells like fresh herbs and sunshine.
Also, the youths in the Mission Beacon Program [an after-school program open to all Mission youth, currently housed at Everett Middle School] come out every other week, and they put on an amazing breakdance performance.