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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!