The City’s grocery stores

Farmers markets may soon open up for business in a number of San Francisco’s parks.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi will introduce legislation today that establishes a formal process for farmers market organizers to apply with The City’s Recreation and Park Department to periodically set up a market on land overseen by the department.

“I’m enthusiastic in helping empower neighborhood vitality,” Mirkarimi said, adding that “farmers markets bolster the economic stability of all of our diverse neighborhoods.”

Also, the legislation could not have come at a better time, he said, given “this mass closure of grocery stores throughout The City.”

Interest has been shown to set up farmers markets at Golden Gate Park’s Panhandle, in Mirkarimi’s district, as well as on Rec and Park land in the Sunset District. But, to date, these proposals have not been supported.

Mirkarimi said his legislation “encourages” farmers markets to open for business throughout The City, including on small swathes of land in low-income neighborhoods.

It’s unclear how many more farmers markets would result from this legislation. To date, The City has issued nine permits for farmers markets to conduct business in a number of locations, including the Ferry Building and the United Nations Plaza.

The Recreation and Park Commission will conduct public hearings on the proposal to determine if the community supports the idea, said Rose Dennis, spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department. The commission will also determine what is the appropriate fee to charge farmers for use of the city-owned land. Farmers markets would still need to obtain a permit for operation through the City’s Department of Public Health.

If ultimately approved, the commission would vote on each application to operate a farmers market on parkland. The legislation stipulates that the farmers market not “adversely affect park grounds … beyond regular usage” nor “interfere with the public’s use of … children’s play areas or athletic courts or fields.”

The legislation draws a connection between park land and the markets. Farmers markets promote better nutrition and healthier living “at a time when obesity and other ill effects of poor nutrition and lack of exercise plague our community,” the legislation says.

John Silveira, director of the Concord-based nonprofit Pacific Farmers’ Market Association, which operates Kaiser Permanente Hospital’s Farmers Market, praised the legislation for creating more opportunities for farmers as well as for residents to purchase “farm fresh products that grow close to their home.”

jsabatini@examiner.comBay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

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