Taking Green to Heart

This is a shout out to growing cities that are truly green. Green with trees, green with gardens, green with farms, green with jars of sprouts on a kitchen counter, green with neighborhood drop off centers for compost, so we can make dark brown steamy compost locally,  green with brown sweet-smelling worm poop, green with neighbors with green thumbs or fresh soil under their fingernails,  and homes and buildings that are green with roof top gardens and living roofs,  places for the down and out that are green and tranquil and car free, and green shelter for unemployed farmers in green jeans.   The Free Farm Stand and Free Farm are good examples of  how  urban agriculture can be fun and help people in need get some  fresh organic produce to boot.   I just visited Alemany Farm to check out their new greenhouse and if you haven’t visited them please do and see how cities should be with farms like that throughout the city (minus the car noise).

20130325_ffs blog_3785 (Small)

20130325_ffs blog_3787 (Small)

if you walk up the hill at Alemany Farm there are many more trees

and plantings in between the treeswith annuals and other perennials

 Go also to Hayes Valley Farm before it is gone and see how beautiful nature can be in the city (pick up some composting fine dark wood chips and plant your own green, even if it is in a re-purposed 5 gallon container picked up from Rainbow). Green cities make people smile, especially children who love to be in green, if not they have  beginning nature deficit disorder.

IMG_2473this boy is helping harvesting the greens from the garden next to the Free Farm Stand


our new volunteers who smile because they got a strawberry plant to grow,

but it is also fun to give the greens away to people who need a little help

We need more green to grow food for us poor folk who are getting pushed out of the city because of gentrification pure and simple. Recently in an earlier blog post a I quoted an article from the Utne Reader called  Race, Class, and Community in San Francisco’s Mission District.  The article was rather long and I didn’t read  it all, but on Sunday I ran into a friend and we were talking about the Mission and what is going down (actually all over the city) with evictions and condo conversions, and she said the Free Farm Stand was mentioned in the article.  So I went back and read the whole thing and yes we were mentioned, though I don’t know how the reporter got her information about us. It wasn’t entirely accurate.

“Gentrification is turning vulnerable residents into tumbleweed, and it’s gradually transforming the Mission. The change is slow, and mostly invisible, but you can see it in the changing food establishments…We think of gentrification principally in terms of real estate, race, and class, but I more often find that food is the thermometer reading the temperature of gentrification.” I agree with her and  a part of the urban ag movement is tied to that gentrification and unfortunately to eating fresh local organic produce (where? at your neighborhood expensive local food dinner) .

We  need to avoid green wash and foodie faddism though any thing that promotes planting gardens and farms in cities I suppose is good.  Any guerrilla gardening, grafting, or interim site gardening is ok and any occupied garden digger style (reclaiming  unused growing spaces) might be the best we can do right now, but we need to give voice to  preserving any open space left in the cities vs development, and we need politicians to show some will to make sure we really make our cities green rather that talk about making them green, or that the only green that is happening is rich people making green moola.  I must admit I have mostly not depended on government too much to really do what they say they want to do or to do the right thing, but sometimes maybe it is worth a try.

My friend Antonio is sending out a note asking for help getting the San Francisco Urban Agriculture legislation off the ground. Here is what he says:

Tree (and other Free Farmers, please feel free to forward this)-

Don’t know if you’ve been following much, but the legislation the SFUAA  [San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance] helped pass last year (to increase and improve the city’s support for urban agriculture efforts) has stalled. We were supposed to have already heard by December 31st about which agency would house the program (a crucial first decision by the city before the UA legislation can be implemented), but instead we’ve heard nothing…even after repeated inquiries to the Office of the City Administrator (the agency in charge of releasing the report).

If you could take a moment to fill in this Template letter (and read the instructions for where/to whom to send it), we’d really appreciate it. We didn’t want to be a thorn in the OCA’s side, but without this report being finished and released, any and all the programs and benefits of the SF Urban Agriculture Program will continue as ideas, not realities. And we’d like to see those benefits start being spread among the urban farming community in SF!

Thanks for your support!


How To Send Letters mar_2013        SFUAA Template Letter to Jumpstart UA Program

Here is another TED talk that Sharing Gardens  in Oregon posted on their blog. “Roger Doiron is founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a network of people taking a hands-on approach to re-localizing the global food supply”. I like the idea of growing potatoes in shopping carts and his idea of a garden stimulus package.


3 Replies to “Taking Green to Heart

  1. Thanks for passing along the info on the legislation, Tree! I agree that sometimes it’s not so great to rely on governments to do right, but we have to try to make them OUR government at some point, right? No better time than now (the same time that is best to plant a tree!) … as for the gentrification issue… well, this is going to be a long and hard struggle to preserve the San Francisco we know and love. But I hope to participate in that struggle with you and all the other folks doing great work! You can check out the group Mission Alliance to Cultivate Home which is trying to bring us all together around these issues: http://www.facebook.com/groups/152759251556264/?fref=ts

  2. I’ve been gone from SF for a few years now but am saddened to hear that the Hayes Valley Farm will be closing. Bummer. Keep up the good fight, Tree. Love from the ATL.

  3. We love the Free Farm Stand, Tree, for the fantastic produce we get to take home, for the wonderful volunteers who give it away, and for being able to show my son (that’s him in the photo helping with the kale harvest) how it all connects. We don’t have any outdoor space where we live, so it’s a real treat for him to harvest some greens and then take it home to eat. Thanks for everything!

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