Amblin' Alameda: The first farmers market of summer

Amblin' Alameda: The first farmers market of summer

Morton Chalfy

It's a week and a day early, but the first farmer's market of the summer happened Saturday. The stalls were all bursting with produce, the stone fruits are in abundance, Asian vegetables abound and the air is warm and soft and inviting. Even without the evidence of the fruits, veggies and flowers, the appearance of bare legs and arms would give it away.

You wouldn't think that a few warm days in a row in an area of generally mild weather anyway would make such a difference, but apparently it does. The schoolgirls have been wearing shorts and tank tops for a month now - but their blood flows hotter, and they have no reason to hide their limbs. More mature people are slower to disrobe, but this mini-heat wave has done the trick. People who for aesthetic reasons should never leave any parts of their bodies exposed are happily baring arms, legs and cleavages to the sun.

The crowd was larger on Saturday as well. Shoppers of all ages and types were out in force - and that turned one of the rituals of attending the farmer's market into a real job.

Every Tuesday and Saturday our trip to the market starts with the search for a parking spot close enough for the movement challenged to negotiate, and our search follows a predictable pattern. First, turn into the parking lot on Santa Clara hoping against hope to have our entry coincide with someone else's exit. If that fails, as it does more than half the time, it's on to Webster looking for someone leaving within a half block of Haight. That's usually a non-starter as well. Then it's around the long block on Lincoln, down Eighth and up Haight on the backside, searching, searching, searching.

When that first circuit fails, which also happens more than half the time, we go around again. It's all in the timing, and the timing is uncontrollable. But crawling along with eyes wide open for clues, we can eventually find a space being vacated, turn on the flashers and get ourselves parked.

School's out in Alameda now and consequently, there are more school-age kids around the market. There are always tots in strollers or just walking or being carried in the market but the school children bring a different vibe. The tots are cute and draw "awws" as they go down the rows of veggies; the school-agers are still cute, but they're also more autonomous and dart through the crowds in search of goodies and each other.

On our way to the market we made a side trip to Lee's Donuts, trying to get there early enough to put in a stock of doughnut holes with fillings. Much more pleasant than the holes in teeth and the fillings they get. So this afternoon we'll have two kinds of sweets to tempt us, nature's fruits and Lee's fillings. Sad to say, the doughnut holes will definitely go first.


Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Tue, Jun 16, 2015

The Webster Street area suffers from a lack of parking. This is especially noticeable during the farmers' markets. While the City has provided generous parking facilities for Park Street, all Webster Street has is one small lot that is partially closed during farmers' markets. This hinders economic development. In addition, the City provides free parking for Park Street merchants after 5:00 p.m. in the large parking garage. Webster Street does not have an equivalent. Parking overflows into neighborhoods. Many of the homes near Webster Street have little or no parking as they were built before most Americans owned automobiles.

While public transit is an option for some; it is not an option for all. This coming Saturday, because of the Chamber of Commerce event on Webster Street, all public transit will be diverted away from the farmers' market and parking will be made even more difficult. For many in the community who rely on the market -- there is no full service grocery nearby -- the lack of public transit will not be a cause for community celebration.

Submitted by Mary Ellen (not verified) on Thu, Jun 18, 2015

And there is a parking lot - but it is closed off and unused because it it privately owned. Unless I have time to bike to the farmer's market I find it impossible to shop there.