Inner Sunset market enlivens neighborhood

Most days of the week, the only denizens of the graffiti-covered parking lot at Ninth Avenue and Irving Street are dozens of empty cars and their scrambling owners, fidgeting in their pockets for change for the meters.

On Sundays, however, the cars are gone. Loud vendors hawk hummus, ravioli or bread, children and their parents sit for cooking demonstrations, dogs are valet-parked in the corner, and most everyone dawdles from one stand to another, coffee and reusable bags in hand.

The group that started the Inner Sunset Farmers Market six months ago hopes to make the parking lot a little livelier — or at least a little less dead — not just Sundays, but Mondays through Saturdays as well. Inner Sunset Park Neighbors has applied for a
Community Challenge Grant to beautify the parking lot.

The idea is to bring trees, planter boxes and perhaps a mural to the space, which in recent years has been more popular for drug users and spray-painters, according to Al Minvielle, a member of the neighborhood group’s board.

The grant would be worth about $25,000, half of which must be provided by volunteer hours or in-kind donations, said the group’s volunteer organizer, Andrea Jadwin. She said volunteers already have pledged the hours, and the group will find out in February whether it will receive the grant.

The farmers' market — which started in June and which operators describe as wildly successful — has not only achieved its primary goal of bringing local produce to the neighborhood, but also it has invigorated community activism, Minvielle said.

“We settled on that parking lot because it’s smack-dab in the middle of the neighborhood,” he said. “We want to make the parking lot more of a lived-in kind of space, as opposed to an abandoned piece of asphalt where people not that long ago would only hang out to do drugs and graffiti the walls.”

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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