In spring, Simon Richard planted 700 seeds in his Bernal Heights garage. Within weeks, shoots and leaves of artisan edibles such as Romano beans, arugula and, of course, lots of heirloom tomatoes were hardy enough to be transplanted into a field.
But this was not just busywork of an overambitious backyard gardener. By midsummer, the fruits (and vegetables) of Richard's labor filled the bins at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco's Mission District, where Richard is the produce manager.
Bi-Rite has long been recognized for its commitment to local, seasonal produce, but it may be the first market to actually grow its own food. Though Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, Monterey Market in Berkeley, Draeger's on the Peninsula, Whole Foods and other Bay Area markets buy some produce directly from farms, Richard and Bi-Rite's owner Sam Mogannam are taking the farm-to-table philosophy a step further, growing their own produce on one-third of an acre in Sonoma.
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