The time period this report covers, April 2019 to March 2020, looks very different from the world we are currently living in. As you scroll down, you’ll see smiling, unmasked faces of farmers and shoppers at the farmers market, curious eaters gathering at live events, and children cooking, gardening, and laughing together. It's a world we all long for and hope to return to soon. Today, CUESA's farmers markets and education programs have adapted to our new pandemic reality, but even in these challenging times, certain things remain true: together, we are building a connected, sustainable, and resilient food system that strengthens family farms and grows healthy communities.

While the pandemic has revealed the many ways our food system is broken, it has also put a spotlight on the importance of local, community-based systems that prioritize equity, sustainability, and access. More than 25 years ago, CUESA's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was built out of the rubble of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Since then, our local food community has supported and taken care of each other through good times and bad, growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food.

In these unprecedented times, we know that it is all of you who make this vision possible. With your support over the last year, we made deep investments in our food community that helped set the foundation for meeting this unprecedented moment, so that we can weather this crisis and come out stronger together. Join us in looking back on what we accomplished together.

Between industry consolidation, aquifer depletion, and climate change, we know that the next two-and-a-half decades hold immense challenges for California agriculture, and institutions like CUESA are vital for keeping urbanites informed about and engaged with their foodshed.

SF Weekly


More than ever, this moment has proven how essential a strong local food system is. For more than 25 years, you have created a farmers market community that is resilient in times of trouble, supporting the livelihoods of hundreds of family farms and small food businesses, and feeding thousands of people.

Keeping Small Farms and Food Business Thriving

Our farmers markets reflect the passion, innovation, and diversity of our community, providing marketplaces for more than 150 family farms, food entrepreneurs, and pop-ups. Your support ensures that local economies thrive, and that young farmers and immigrant- and women-owned food businesses can succeed.

We welcomed these local farms and food businesses at CUESA's farmers markets:

Delightful Foods • Far West Cider • Farmer Joy • Hella Succulent • MNC Moua Farms/GG Farms • Proyecto Diaz Coffee • Salt Point Seaweed

CUESA provided a pivotal first step in launching our business. We felt an almost immediate acceptance by the food community. The market was a key way to trial our products, get feedback, and understand what resonates with people in this very complicated and messy issue of food waste. Being at the market on Saturdays has been a stepping stone into more opportunities to make this a viable business.

—Kayla Abe and David Murphy, Ugly Pickle Co.

A Platform for New Food Entrepreneurs

We work with people who prioritize sustainability, social justice, and community health in their business practices. Through community partnerships with ally organizations such as La Cocina, Kitchen Table Advisors, and Mandela Partners, we provided a venue for values-driven food entrepreneurs to connect with the public to build their business and brand, while sharing their delicious, handcrafted foods.

These burgeoning food businesses popped up at CUESA's farmers markets:

AndreaMarie Custom Cake & Treats • Bovino • Crisps & Crackles • Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen • Dmir Smoothies • Fibershed Marketplace • Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates • Helping Food Truck • Jacquelynn's Heart & Soul • Ju'C Fruits • Kaleidoscope Foods • The Lemonade Bar • Loyale Studio • MOMM’s Pastries • Neo Cocoa • Pass the Sauced • Pepito's Paletas • Salt & Straw • Something Better Foods • Teranga • Vegan Mob

Social justice is a large part of what drives me in this work, and wanting to do my part. It is needed in so many layers of the food system, especially for the workers in the fields….Being a part of CUESA has allowed us to feel that our work is valued, and customers appreciate that our farming practices are good for the land, the environment, and the health of consumers and field workers.

—Marsha Habib, Oya Organics

Transition at Jack London Square

In March, CUESA transitioned out of operating the Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland. It is currently being stewarded by the Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association, the market’s original operator. We want to express our deep gratitude to the Oakland community and market vendors. We have been honored to serve you the last four years!

COVID-19 Response: Farmers Markets Are Essential

Everything changed in March 2020, the end of period this report covers. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we quickly responded by fighting to keep farmers markets open as essential community food access points and lifelines for local farms and food businesses. Together with our fellow market operators, we appealed to our state and city officials and succeeded in ensuring that farmers markets are protected as essential services under shelter-in-place.

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market remained open, and we rapidly adopted new protocols and programs to support our farmers and protect our community to ensure that farmers markets remain safe places to access healthy food, as we navigate this new and uncertain future together. We’ll have more to share in next year’s impact report.

Now more than ever, we must be grateful for our local food community—not just us the farmers and purveyors, but all of you who come to the market every week to support us, and the market managers who make it all happen. COVID-19 is showing us just how important it is to have a healthy, local food system for you to turn to. When this is all over, I know we will come out of this with a greater understanding and appreciation for our community.

—Lorraine Walker, Eatwell Farm


From galvanizing gatherings to hands-on educational experiences, we provide a space for our community to learn from and connect with community organizers and movement leaders. With your participation, we have brought our community together to take action in building a powerful and inclusive food movement. Shown here, 130 of you gathered to learn about civic engagement through food with Nina Ichikawa and Reem Assil.

The Food Change Continues

In 2019, we launched The Food Change, a bold vision for the future that champions farmers, advocates, and everyday people who are making positive changes in our food system, such as change makers Rachel Bolden Kramer (author of My Food Stamps Cookbook) and Keith Goldstein (Food Runners). Through a larger-than-life photomural installation at San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building, The Food Change inspires people of all ages to take part in creating a fair, regenerative, and delicious food future.


Throughout the year, we brought The Food Change to life through talks, in-market programming, and online articles and resources. Led by the next generation of farmers and activists, you gathered to build a powerful and engaged food movement from the grassroots up, and develop solutions some of the most challenging problems of our day. Shown here, Chanowk Yisrael and other farmers discussed challenges and solutions for creating an equitable food and farming system.

Bringing Farmers, Activists, and Eaters Together

At CUESA's talks, more than 500 of you joined us in person and an additional 1,500 online. You came together to take action around vital issues in our food system, from racial justice to climate change.

Connecting with Chefs and Educators

At our in-market cooking demos at the CUESA Classroom, more than 40 chefs, cookbook authors, and food change makers shared seasonal recipes, cooking techniques, and food wisdom. We also extended our education programs into the virtual space, reaching thousands more community members. Chefs and educators included Bryant Terry (Vegetable Kingdom), Tiffani Patton (Read Food Media), Yana Gilbuena (SALO Series), and many more.

Sharing Food Knowledge, Building Skills

CUESA’s markets are places for us to gather and share food knowledge and foodways. Our free public education programs meet every eater wherever they’re at in their food journey. From April 2019 to early March 2020, our Market to Table cooking demos and market tastings engaged more than 7,000 market visitors in making empowered food choices for our communities and the planet.

Community Hub

Farmers markets are essential gathering places for neighbors to connect, share resources, and contribute to the collective good. At CUESA's farmers markets, we provided free space for community organizations to raise awareness, educate, and build support for food access, racial justice, human rights, the arts, and other vital issues.

826 Valencia • ACLU • Alameda County Community Food Bank • Amnesty International • City College of SF Collective Students • City of Oakland Planning Department • Ella Baker Center for Human Rights • Friends of the Oakland Library • Hip Hop for Change • Little Mission Studio • Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts • Port of SF • Recology • Rising Sun Center for Opportunity • SF MUNI • Stop Waste • SURJ • The Women's Building • UCSF Flu-Crew • Valencia Bikeways Project


For kids to be healthy and thrive, they need good food to nourish their bodies and their minds. With your support, CUESA's youth education programs connect over 2,500 kids and family members with fresh fruits and vegetables, and empower them with skills to last a lifetime.


In 2019, CUESA launched Foodwise Teens, a paid job training program where teens build skills to sustain healthy lives and a healthy planet. This semester-long after-school program invests deeply in our youth: students grow their own food in the garden, learn about food justice, and gain valuable job experience selling their products at the farmers market—all while getting paid for their work.

First Class of Foodwise Teens

Over the course of 2019, nearly 100 students participated in the Foodwise Teens program, with some students extending their learning through a summer fellowship. For more than half of these students, Foodwise Teens was their first paid job. They made connections between their personal health and the health of the planet, to help them become environmentally and socially aware thinkers and change makers of tomorrow.

Foodwise Teens is not just a gardening and cooking program. It is about communication, teamwork, and making connections with people and these are things that we all need in our lives. All of us need opportunities to grow, be healthy, and realize our potential.

—Diamond Ozan, 2019 Foodwise Teens graduate and leader

Foodwise Teens Summer Fellowship

Nine Foodwise Teens graduates deepened their learning and job experience through a two-month paid summer fellowship. Students worked at local food businesses, in the farmers market, or as instructors in our Foodwise Kids program, where they became mentors teaching younger students to cook, like Lee shown here.

Being a Foodwise Teen means a lot to me. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity of being a part of something big, and special. I feel like I have grown in so many ways. I see myself stronger in communicating with others, following directions, and being creative. I feel more prepared to have another job. I feel more confidence in the work environment. Last but not least, I've learned that being positive is really important, especially working with kids. Thanks to CUESA, I value food more, and where it comes from. I have a better understanding of how much effort farmers in particular put into growing and getting our food.

—Ivania Garcia, 2019 CUESA Summer Foodwise Teens Intern with Foodwise Kids

Foodwise Teens build confidence, environmental awareness, and food systems knowledge that they will take with them throughout their lives. Watch this short video to hear from Ivania and her peers themselves!


CUESA’s Foodwise Kids is a free program for elementary school students that uses the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market as a classroom for the taste buds. Last year, we served more than 121 classes, prioritizing students who have been historically underserved. Through comparative tastings, exploring the market, and a hands-on cooking lesson, children discover their love for fruits and vegetables, learn how to prepare healthy, seasonal foods, and become aware of their role in a sustainable food system. And they have fun while doing it!

Our all time favorite field trip! Kids learn and appreciate the hard work of our farmers. Students also get to try fruits and vegetables that are not in their normal diets, such as beets, kale, blood oranges, purple cabbage, and carrots! I strongly recommend this program to all teachers!

—Janice Lee, teacher, John Yehall Chin Elementary School

Foodwise Kids Goes to Summer Camp

CUESA welcomed summer camps to serve kids throughout the year, partnering with local family and youth programs for a third year. Groups included the Alameda Unified School District Woodstock Child Development Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, Collective Impact’s Mo’MAGIC, Family House San Francisco, Mission Education Center, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Summer Day Camp, TEL HI Neighborhood Center, and YMCA.

I loved all parts of it. Kids had a lot of autonomy in all stages: cooking, selecting food, and trying out different types of local produce. The 'this is going to be awesome' looks I got, when kids were told they'd be given ‘money’ to buy healthy things from the market were especially great. We talk about healthy eating at the Club and try to reinforce that message daily. It was nice to see another avenue for healthy eating and supporting the community.

—Sean Hyatt, Education Director, Boys & Girls Club Columbia Park


Over the year, 450 dedicated volunteers and interns donated 5,500 hours teaching kids to cook, supporting cooking demos and tastings, assisting visitors at our farmers markets, and more. Local chefs and bartenders, advisory committee members, and corporate groups also gave 3,000 additional hours in support of CUESA’s work and mission.


We could not do this work without you! Last year, 1,528 of you supported CUESA's work through individual donations or purchasing tickets to our fundraising events. Through your generous financial support and donations of time and talents, you are inspiring a world that nourishes all people, local economies, and the living earth.


Our 2019-2020 fiscal year was one of deep investment. We funded, through your generosity, a revamping of our education programs for greater impact, including launching Foodwise Teens; increased diversity, equity, and inclusion training for our staff and board; and made improvements to our teaching kitchen and farmers market infrastructure. Here's how we put your contributions to work.


You have the power to build a food system that works—one that makes fresh food available to all, supports local farmers, and empowers youth to live healthy lives. As we face an uncertain future, your support is needed more than ever. Renew your commitment with a donation to CUESA today.

CUESA | 1 Ferry Building, Suite 50, San Francisco, CA 94111

© 2020 Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.


CUESA, Amanda Lynn Photography, Anne Hamersky, Natalie Ngo, Plus M Productions