Its really quite overwhelming. In the last 4 days, I’ve been in 6 farms – and I haven’t left San Francisco. Some of them call themselves gardens, but they are all producing – or preparing to produce – food. The only thing more amazing than the fact that so much food is being grown in San Francisco, is that most of it is being given away.
My farm tour started with planting fruit trees at the Permaculture Demonstration Garden on 18th and Rhode Island Streets – which I’ve already blogged about. The next day I went to an awesome mushroom workshop at the Garden for the Environment (a beautiful garden at 7th & Lawton) put on by Brett Stephens and Casey Allen of SF Landscapes and mushroom guru, Ken Litchfield of Merritt College. I went to dispel my innate fear of fungi and I came home with a bag of straw inoculated with oyster mushroom spawn (yes, that is what its called!), totally jazzed about growing mushrooms in my future wormbin. Later that afternoon I went to the first members meeting for the Growing Home at the Mercury Cafe, the sweet cafe across from the garden. A big group of Hayes Valley residents, volunteers and formerly homeless guys, made lists of our favorite vegetables and fruit to grow and shared stories of the Central Freeway that used to stand on the site of the new garden. The asphalt lot has been transformed with the layout of the garden the the beginning of the planter boxes.
Sunday started with wonderful brunch with the Mission Garden Anchors. The anchors work in food gardens in the Mission and harvest vegetables for the Free Farm Stand. Lisa made incredible omlets, Booka floored us all with her homemade bacon and apple butter and I dreamed of a San Francisco with a garden anchors and free farms stands in all the neighborhoods. If you are interested in the Garden Anchor program, send me an email. Some of us had to run out before cleaning up (thank you to all that helped Lisa) to get to the Hayes Valley Farm work day.
The Hayes Valley Farm was off the hook. It was only the 2nd Sunday workday, and I’m sure there were more than 100 people there before I left at 3pm. To celebrate David Cody‘s birthday the Jugtown Pirates performed in the middle of the mulch moving, sheet mulching and ivy removal. Volunteers cleaned up the garbage that has accumilated over the last decade, Jay led visionary tours, handmade signs were hung – even the hula girls came out! – and the hillside we started last week was covered with beautiful mulch.
My farm tour ended today at Alemany Farm‘s Monday workday. Its been quite a handful of years since I’ve been to the Alemany Farm and I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it looked. Nestled against the 280 freeway, the Alemany Farm was first planted by tenants of the adjacent housing project around 1995, and has gone through a few transitions and boom and bust times over the years. The last few years have been a quiet boom as guerrilla farmers have started planting, maintaining and harvesting the farm.
I got to hang out with Ken Litchfield, the mushroom guru again – a few hours with him is like months in a botany class. He and the guys from SF Landscapes, lead the Monday workdays. They took us on a tour of the site, showing us the ingenious irrigation trenches that water the hillside with fresh spring water, the buzzing bee hives and the fruit trees on the hillside under planted with vegetables. Even though it was the first day of February and many of the trees were bare, the garden was thriving.
Everyone was surprised when a rooster joined the group and spent the afternoon with us. No one knew where he came from, but he fit in well and even befriended Thor, Brett’s chihuahua. The Alemany Farm doesn’t have a place for chickens, but he’ll be fostered until someone claims him.
After a few hours of weeding a bed that will be planted next month we headed to the row crops and harvested tree kale and collards, lettuce, fava been leaves, minors lettuce and rainbow chard – this was all weighed and distributed amongst the volunteers.
But it doesn’t end there, on Wednesday I hope to help out at Western Addition’s new Free Farm that has taken over the vacant lot that was the St. Palus Church until it burn to the ground in 1995. So stay tuned for the next San Francisco farm!
Got a farm in San Francisco to show off? email me!