Another Food Garden – Finny Farm

Finny Farm sheet mulched

If you’ve spent any time with me in the last year, you know that not much time goes by before I start babbling on about backyard food gardens and neighborhood farms across the city. Lucky for me, I’m not the only person with this crazy idea. In the last year, a group of members of the San Francisco Permaculture Guild have been dreaming, visioning, planning, discussing  and installing food gardens with recycled and reused materials and volunteers – creating a San Francisco version of the traditional “Permablitz.”  A permablitz is kind of like an agricultural barn raising – a group comes together to install a garden in a day – if you help in a someone’s garden this weekend  you can get your own garden next weekend.

Currently the backyard food garden program is being developed, so we don’t yet have a website or official mission statement – or an official name. Its gone by many incarnations over the last year and we’ve been too busy planning gardens to sit down and debate a final name, so for now it goes by AFG – Another Food Garden. Our plan is to install organic food gardens, create a network of backyard food gardens and neighborhood farms and educate neighbors about growing vegetables, chickens, bees, compost and soil. We are lucky that urban agriculture has exploded in San Francisco like oxalis in February and lots of people are interested in working in food gardens.  I’ve been spending alot of time visiting potential sites, coordinating workdays and dreaming big about the potential of Another Food Garden.

And of course I’ve been spending some time getting my hands dirty.

Bayview Greenwaste delivery of 20 yards of mulch

Last weekend AFG helped mulch Finny Farm, a new neighborhood farm in San Francisco’s NOPA neighborhood (location map is here). Named after sweet little Finn, Finny Farm is proving to become a permaculture neighborhood food garden show case. It was designed by students in the winter 2010 Urban Permacalture Design Course, and will eventually include a greywater wetlands, a cobb oven, fruit trees, chickens, bee hives, a plant nursery made with recycled glass doorsand of course, plenty of perennial vegetables.

Mulching a backyard in San Francisco is no easy task. At Finny Farm the only access to the back yard is down 5 steps, through a narrow doorway and a long narrow breezeway.  And then none of us realized just how big 20 yards of mulch is – BIG. We ended up dumping it across the street where there was more room, which meant that we had to move 20 yards of mulch across the street before getting it down 5 steps, a long breezeway and through a backyard covered with cardboard. But the super human Finny Farm team  developed a great strategy and did it in 4 hours! Check out more photos from last week’s workday here.

Moving mulch to the backyard

Making a dent in 20 yards of mulch

Transfering mulch down the steps

AFG will be returning to Finny Farm to help create planting mounds,  walkwys, plant vegetable starts and build compost bins in the next couple weeks. May 1st we’ll be having a workday in the Mission and we are looking for gardeners to help with a project in the Marina. Email me if you are interested in participating or getting your own food garden.

Volunteers at the first workday at Finny Farm


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