San Francisco’s Mission Community Market: A Perfect After-School Outing

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Enjoy a family-friendly market every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at 22nd and Bartlett. (Market reopens for the season on April 14th) The Mission Community Market combines a selection of farm-fresh produce with after-school activities, local artisans and musical performances. The outdoor market attracts local families that converge under a giant mural with their tote bags by bike, Muni and on foot (with strollers).

The roundup of farmers offers a smorgasboard of seasonal produce from around the Bay. Every week you can stock up your kitchen with items such as strawberries from Watsonville’s Tomatero Farm, sweet apple cider from Camino’s Rainbow Orchards, luscious apples from Sebastopol’s Hales Apple Farm, fruits from the Central Valley’s Twin Girl Farms, amazing greens from Watsonville’s Happy Boy Farms or jams and pickles from Emmy’s. Other vendors bring different flavors depending on the season.

If dining al fresco under the sunny skies of the Mission sounds tempting, bring the kids and a healthy appetite to browse the offerings of the catering vendors with a Mission flavor. Here, you can pick empanadas from El Perol, barbecue from Good Foods Catering or pupusas from Antonidos Salavadoresas Aminta. A few tables and chairs are an open invitation to sit down – or the parklet at the corner of Bartlett and 22nd. Still hungry? Top off the evening with tantalizing desserts (ah, the mocha brownies!) from Sweet Constructions or bread and pastries from Delicias Salvadorenas.

Designed for children and youth in mind, the market also brings in an unusual community component with activity tables manned by various after-school programs such as the Dolores Community Youth Alliance, the Edison Charter Academy, Mission Beacon or Mission Girls. Some of these programs focus on empowering young minority women and fighting anti-gang violence. “Most of the activities are related to fitness and nutrition,” says Seema Patel, a volunteer for the market, who adds that the market is working to weave in partnerships with local schools. Any child can walk in and participate in the activities.

A market wouldn’t be complete without musicians and this one doesn’t disappoint with weekly street performers playing their guitars and singing in front of eager audiences both on the street pavement and on benches.

Want to know what’s happening at the market and receive recipes? You can “Like” them on their Facebook page or follow them on their Twitter @MissionMercado. Next Thursday after school, why don’t you bring the kids and check it out? It’s a vibrant market fit for an eclectic and thriving community.

—Laure Latham