A Little Farm in Little Hollywood

Its just a little different here.... a house with the Statue of Liberty, Little Hollywood, San Francisco

It is a little triangle neighborhood nestled in between the Bayshore Boulevard, Highway 101 and the city dump in the southern end of the city that most of San Francisco have never heard of. But according to its residents, the neighborhood of Little Hollywood is famous because a developer from Hollywood moved north and duplicated the same houses here  – but mostly because supposedly  Mae West lived here during the 1939 International Exhibition.  And, I don’t know, maybe its psychological, but there is something Hollywood about it, when you wander through. It definitely isn’t like the rest of San Francisco.

Tocoloma Street, the entrance to the farm and Bayview Hill beyond

Its been quite a few years since I’ve been to Little Hollywood (I got to know the neighborhod during FUF tree planting years ago) and I don’t think I’ve ever gone up to the end of Tocaloma, where Little Hollywood ends at a undeveloped hillside and Highway 101. But I went last weekend to see the location of San Francisco’s newest farm, courtesy of San Francisco Landscapes, who organized the work day. Volunteers came from the neighborhood and throughout the city – some who’ve been working with the guys from San Francisco Landscapes for awhile and other who are completely new to urban farming.

Coastal Prairie soil

We started with removing the sheets of plastic that had been laid over the soil to (unsuccessfully) discourage weeds from growing. We were happy to find the rich dark  Coastal Prairie soil that had been hiding under the plastic tarps. This soil has developed from  the decomposition over centuries of native perennial grasslands, which are found all over the Bay Area and are under threat from non-native annual and perennial grasses that have taken over.

Sheet mulching with recycled cardboard

I think that just about all of the materials we used were recycled and reused. We sheet mulched half of the site with recycled cardboard from bike shops  and covered the cardboard with debris from a tree removal dropped off by a arborist. I look forward t see what will be made from the pieces of tree trunk that was also left.

Compost bin made out of old pallets

While we were moving mulch, other volunteers were creating a level space on the shady side of the site and building a compost bin out of recycled pallets. I love that the ubiquitous pallet has become the  basic building block for urban farm structures. The Free Farm on Gough and Eddy made a beautiful shed from pallets recently,  I’ve taken them apart and built raised planting beds and apparently they’ve also been used to make a chicken tractor.

Building the shelter side of the chicken tractor

Yes, chicken tractor – which is not a 4-wheel drive chicken mobile, but a floorless chicken coop that can be moved around a yard.  The chickens eat bugs, scratch and break up the soil and then fertilize it with their manure and you don’t have to deal with cleaning out the chicken coop – brilliant. While we were sheet mulching and making compost bins, another crew were making a chicken tractor headed by a skinny girl who was amazing with the circular saw.

Brett and Casey of San Francisco Landscape have big ideas for this little urban farm. Eventually it will be part of a larger farm that will take over the undeveloped hillside on the other side of the street and include bee hives (coming soon), chickens, fruit trees and enough vegetables for the neighborhood!

Undeveloped hillside on Tocoloma


6 responses to “A Little Farm in Little Hollywood

  1. I love the picture of the house. I used to live in LA and I miss those kinds of homes. Not crazy big like Victorians. Would it be hard to post a like map showing the approximate location of the sites you visit? Also, it would be interesting to know what the weather is like in these different parts of town. I love what you are doing!

    • Yes, I would like you to post a map for each blog post so that we can check these places out ourselves or at least just have a better idea of where you’re talking about.

  2. Great article, and the new site is super-cool! I love it, and now I can’t wait to return from Australia and catch up with you on all of the amazing projects. Thanks for capturing it so well!

  3. I don’t know if you’ve been contacted about this, but I’d like to know if it would be ok to reprint your article in the April edition of Vis Valley’s newspaper, The Grapevine. We are putting together a special edition about parks, plazas, and open speace in the neighborhood.

  4. Very resourceful in your efforts to do good around your neighborhood. I applaud people who are willing to take the time to restore natural beauty to their town.

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