By Hans Baldauf, FAIA

CUESA (The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, some of San Francisco’s best bakeries, patisseries and restaurants donated their talents to the creation of 25 cakes for 25 years.

CUESA’s mission states that the organization is dedicated to "cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs.” To this end, it operates three iconic farmer’s markets - the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, the Jack London Square Farmers Market, and the Mission Community Market - as well as a series of educational programs, including cooking demonstrations, farm tours, youth programs like Foodwise Kids and Schoolyard to Market, and more. These programs are ways to create community and spark discussion surrounding food systems and healthy eating. CUESA’s inclusive outreach allows for an open opportunity for involvement in sustainable food practices. 

Image 1: Executive Director Marcy Coburn with former director David Stockdale and guests; Image 2: Guests at the celebration; Image 3: BCV's cake, courtesy of Craftsman & Wolves. Image credit: Amanda Lynn Photography.

I am honored to have just concluded my nine years of service on the board, including two as board chair. It was during these two years that long time executive director David Stockdale took a position at Walla Walla Community College and we hired Marcy Coburn as executive director. It was great to catch up with Dave at the celebration.  His responsibilities at the William A. Grant Water & Environmental Center at Walla Walla Community College continue to grow. It was also great to see the dynamic institution that CUESA has continued to grow into under Marcy over the past four years.

Under Marcy’s leadership, CUESA has expanded its reach beyond the Ferry Building to take over operations and breathe new energy into Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland and Mission Community Market in San Francisco's Mission District, serving diverse communities with healthy, local, and culturally relevant food and educational programming.

Across all five markets, CUESA now supports more than 180 local farms, food businesses, and restaurants, providing for new and emerging entrepreneurs with an emphasis on women, people of color, immigrants, and next-generation farmers. CUESA's youth programs serve 3,000 students with healthy food education each year, and under Marcy's leadership CUESA has expanded its public education programs to reach youth on Treasure Island and in Oakland. CUESA's reputation as a food leader on the national stage and her dream of an equitable, diverse, inclusive and just food system is shaping CUESA's strategic vision as we plan for the next 25 years and beyond.