Tags Posts tagged with "urban agriculture"

urban agriculture

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San Francisco’s Policy Thumb Gets Greener

By Isabel Wade & Eli Zigas

On a spring morning last week, Mayor Ed Lee signed a bill that places San Francisco at the forefront of major cities supporting urban agriculture.  The law, which changes the city’s zoning code, was the culmination of a year of collaboration between the Mayor, Supervisor David Chiu, the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance and supporters from across the city.

The new law does two things:

1) Makes clear that gardens are welcome in every part of the city.

Previously, the city prohibited the establishment of gardens in certain zones of the city.  Going forward, San Franciscans can start a garden or farm less than one acre in size anywhere in the city with a simple over-the-counter permit.  These gardens can be traditional community gardens or they can be market gardens that grow for sale. Gardens and farms one acre or larger are allowed in the industrial zones of the city, and can also be permitted in other parts of the city after a more lengthy application and hearing process called Conditional Use Authorization.  Home gardens cultivated for personal use are unaffected by this new law.

2) Allows gardeners to sell what they grow. 

Whether it’s to make a little extra cash or to make a living, gardeners and urban farmers in San Francisco can now sell what they grow no matter where they grow it.  A backyard gardener can sell to their neighbor, a community garden can make a deal with the local corner grocer, and an urban farm can start a CSA or supply produce to a restaurant.  Sales are permitted both at the garden site itself as well as off-site.  And, San Francisco took a unique step among cities by explicitly allowing gardens outside of residential areas to sell value-added goods such as jams, pickles, and other processed products so long as they follow health code regulations and the primary ingredients are grown and produced on-site.

By passing this law, San Francisco is encouraging the development of urban agriculture throughout the city. Theunanimous support of the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor demonstrates an understanding that urban gardens and farms provide open space in our dense city, offer “green thumb” jobs, serve as a source of fresh produce in “food deserts”, build community, and allow city residents to connect with and better understand the food system.  This understanding comes from the success of numerous model projects that have sprung up in recent years.  Gardens such as the Quesada Gardens InitiativeFree Farm, and 18th & Rhode Island Garden all provide examples of vacant, untended areas turned into vibrant, welcoming greenspace.  Those gardens, and others such as Alemany Farm and Hayes Valley Farm bring together hundreds of volunteers to dig in the dirt and build something meaningful together.  Meanwhile, small businesses such as Little City Gardens and SF Landscapes will now have the legal backing to sell produce grown in residential areas to their neighbors and others throughout the city. Altogether, these gardens — whether they grow for sale or not  — strengthen their neighborhoods and communities by bringing people together out of their homes and around a specific place and their harvest.

While this change to the zoning code is a great step forward for San Francisco, we believe it is only a first step forward.  Other actions that would enhance food production and the city’s sustainability deserve attention as well.  Foremost among them is land access and land tenure.  San Francisco is a dense city where available land commands a pretty penny. Though the zoning code change allows gardens throughout the city, it doesn’t create any new ones nor does it protect spaces that are obvious choices for food production or neighborhood greenspace.  The City has begun to look for vacant public land suitable for urban agriculture, but we should also consider other space that could be converted to gardens.  Taking advantage of our urban setting, San Francisco could follow in Seattle’s footsteps by allowing rooftop greenhouses dedicated to food production to exceed existing height limitations. Moreover, building codes could be altered to require roof strengthening and appropriate plumbing in all new structures in order to allow rooftop gardening. Another critical step to foster more food production is the establishment of Neighborhood Food Hubs where residents could pick up mulch, compost, and tools for their backyard and community gardening efforts. Further north, the City of Vancouver, Canada envisions these hubs to also offer places to cook, taking cooking lessons, can and pickle. These are just a few examples of further policy steps the City could take.

After the Mayor signed the zoning ordinance into law, we all raised our plates for a “salad toast” to celebrate the occasion. We look forward to many future “salad toast” to a more resilient city at garden ground-breakings, rooftop plantings, and more.


The NEN and AII Release the First Episodes of NENtv’s KIOSK

The Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) and the Art Institute of California San Francisco have collaborated through the NEN University Academic Alliance to produce the first two NENtv episodes of “Kiosk”.

Kiosk is a 30 minute broadcast quality TV show dedicated to elevating and celebrating the community building work that is happening in the neighborhoods every day. Each episode features both in studio guests as well as video profiles of people and organizations from around the City who are making a difference in their communities.

The premier episodes include:

Building Community, One Garden at a Time

The Power of Art and Building Strong Communities

KIOSK was produced and directed by students enrolled in instructor Marc Smolowitz’s Studio Production course. “As an instructor, it’s my goal to help the students achieve the academic goals of the curriculum.” Stated Smolowitz, “If we can do so while at the same time helping the communities of San Francisco celebrate the great work happening in their neighborhoods, it only enhances the learning experience.”

Daniel Homsey, the program manager of the NEN, stated “The ability to collaborate with an organization such as the Art Institute of California San Francisco with its talented instructors and students, helps the NEN achieve its mission to help the communities of San Francisco no only be acknowledged for their work, but also present their efforts in a way that is easily consumable for other residents.”

To view the episodes of NENtv’s KIOSK, visit empowersf.org/nentv.

The Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) was launched in the fall of 2007, when the City and County of San Francisco partnered with residents and community serving non profits to create a new platform to nurture collaboration and community centric problem solving. The NEN’s mission is to develop tools, resources and strategic partnerships that empower communities to steward themselves to being safer, cleaner, greener and healthier places to live and work.

 

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NEN Kiosk: Growing Communities from NENtv on Vimeo.

This debut episode of the NEN Kiosk focuses on community gardens. Join NEN’s Daniel Homsey as he talks about this growing trend with Blair Randall of Garden for the Environment, Fran Martin of the Visitacion Valley Greenway and Mei Ling Hui of the SF Department of the Environment. These community leaders join in to share their experiences with community gardens and how they play a major role in uniting neighborhoods.

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We Are Growing Home from NENtv on Vimeo.

“Growing Home”, a new community garden located along Octavia Boulevard in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, is a unique collaboration between a surprising assortment of people. Watch this latest NENtv episode to find out who’s involved.

In 2010, NENtv visited Growing Home on the final volunteer work day needed to fully open the garden to discover a rich assortment of views on what a community garden can do for the community.

The video also features Ed Lee in his pre-Mayoral role!

[Also viewable on Youtube here.]

 


 

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Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced the winners of the Community Challenge Grant Program (CCG), which provides matching grants to local residents, businesses, non-profits and other community groups to make physical improvements to their neighborhoods.

The CCG Program has awarded 28 grants totaling $577,656. The bulk of the CCG awards continue to be for permeable landscaping, public artwork, graffiti/litter abatement, community gardens and gathering spaces, equitably covering all areas of the City. The funding for CCG awards come from city businesses who voluntarily designate one percent of the business tax they already pay. 

The CCG focuses on projects that directly engage residents and businesses in creating green spaces, gathering places, public art, and other neighborhood amenities by featuring and applying ecologically friendly practices. The program is an important tool for enabling communities to take the lead in conducting small scale improvements in their own communities and neighborhoods.

“The Community Challenge Grants promote innovation in our neighborhoods and encourage communities to take pride in their streets,” said Mayor Newsom. “These innovative projects leverage public and private dollars to get communities working together toward making San Francisco a cleaner, greener, and safer city for everyone.”

“We are inspired by the twenty-eight innovative projects awarded this cycle,” said City Administrator Ed Lee. “The Community Challenge Grant Program works best when community groups are empowered to take charge to improve and green their neighborhoods. These projects continue to make San Francisco a cleaner, greener place to live and grow.”

The CCG partnership with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Urban Watershed Management Program is a critical part of the project. Through this partnership, grants were awarded to six community projects including implementing environmentally sustainable technologies for sidewalks and infrastructure and managing local rainwater in schools and parks.  The awarded amount totals $102,600.

“Each of these community-driven projects will help the entire City to better manage stormwater,” said SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington. “They demonstrate the importance of acting locally and are vital to the health of our watersheds.”

Community Challenge Grant Program Fall 2010 Grant Award Recipients

1. Jose Ortega Elementary School PTA

Awarded: $10,000
Project: Community Art

2.  Precita Valley Neighbors, sponsored by SF Parks Trusts

Awarded: $8,500
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

3. Progress Park, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $8,600
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

4. Inner City Youth  OMI Clean Team

Awarded: $15,000
Project: Litter Abatement

5. Market Street Association

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification

6. Worchester/Alemany Triangle, sponsored by Mission Neighborhood Center

Awarded: $13,328
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

7. North West Bernal Alliance

Awarded: $14,579
Project: Graffiti & Litter Abatement

8. Korean American Community Center, sponsored by SF Clean City Coalition

Awarded: $15,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

9. Kids In Parks, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

10. Hayes Valley Farm, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $10,000
Project: Urban Forestry

11. Sunnyside Neighborhood Association

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

12. Chinatown Community Development Center

Awarded: $25,000
Project: Graffiti Abatement

13. Excelsior Action Group, sponsored by Community Initiatives

Awarded: $30,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

14. Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee

Awarded: $45,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

15. Hunters Point Family/Girls 2000

Awarded: $30,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

16. Japantown Sakura 150 Project

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Urban Forestry

17. Sand@OB Project

Awarded: $24,600
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

18. San Francisco Clean City Coalition

Awarded: $50,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

19. Pennsylvania St. Gardens, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $45,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

20. Storrie-Ord Neighborhood Group, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $5,449
Project: Urban Forestry

21. Vermont St. Neighborhood Group, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $10,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

22. Tenderloin Housing Clinic

Awarded: $35,000
Project: Community Art

Urban Watershed Stewardship Grants Fall 2010 Award Recipients

23. Alice Fong Yu Elementary School PTA

Awarded: $3,500
Project: Rainwater Harvesting

24. Pennsylvania St. Gardens, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $40,000
Project: Street Park with Rain Gardens and Swale System

25. Plant*SF, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $15,000
Project: Sidewalk Landscaping and Impermeable Surface Removal

26. SF State University

Awarded: $21,000
Project: Rain Garden with Native Plantings

27. Sunnyside Cooperative Nursery School

Awarded: $3,100
Project: Sidewalk Landscaping and Impermeable Surface Removal

28. Surfrider Foundation, SF Chapter

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Sidewalk Landscaping and Impermeable Surface Removal

 

Julia Brashares, Land Steward Manager, San Francisco Parks Trust

Looking for a place to dig in and get dirty in San Francisco?

Perhaps you’re like many other San Franciscans – you’ve been musing over how you’d like to start a garden and get back in touch with nature, slow down a little.  You’ve checked out the nearest plot-style community garden that you could find, but found that there’s a long waiting list. Hum, now what?

A program that may be helpful to you is Street Parks. Disused plots like this can become community green spacesis Street Parks. This program, operated by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the San Francisco Parks Trust (SFPT), enables and assists residents in turning blighted vacant lots into verdant gardens, habitats for wildlife, and recreational spaces.  If you’re looking to garden by yourself, in a quiet place away from everyone, this is not the program for you.  The Street Parks program is for people who love the idea of collective action, of working together as a community to create something beautiful that wasn’t there before.

Disused plots like this can become community green spaces

So how do I tap in and get a garden site, you may ask? The process is fairly straightforward – the first step is to locate a vacant parcel of land in your neighborhood – it might be a median, triangle, area along a public stairway, or parcel at a road’s dead end. Next, you’d complete a Street Parks application – this enrolls you in the Street Parks program and designates you as the primary land steward. Your registration also puts you in touch with valuable resources and expertise that can help you in creating your dream garden oasis.

The next step is to hold community meetings and create a collective vision for a garden that you and your neighbors can all feel excited about.  Once you’ve agreed upon the vision for your garden, you’d submit a site plan to DPW and SFPT for approval.  The review process usually takes about one month.  After you receive final approval, you’re free to start digging and planting!

Annie Shaw

There are other details to the process, but rather than focus on that, I’d love to introduce you to Annie Shaw, a powerhouse of a woman.  Annie’s been through the Street Parks process and created Pennsylvania Garden – a slice of garden paradise right at an exit loop of the 280 freeway!  It all started less than 2 years ago, when Annie grew weary of looking at the trashy and dusty circle of land across the street from her apartment. Annie secured the approval and support of Caltrans, DPW, and SFPT and the garden that now is established at the site is a testament to Annie’s powerful drive, imagination, creative vision, ingenuity, and knowledge of horticulture.The disused land pictured above became Pennsylvania Garden

The disused land pictured above became Pennsylvania Garden.

 

Thanks to Annie and the neighbors she inspired to join her, Pennsylvania Garden is a gorgeous and peaceful place, home to an extraordinary collection of drought tolerant native plants, as well as a variety of birds, butterflies, and salamanders!
You can be the next Annie and create an innovative and beautiful place of your own.  Be on the lookout for future posts with more inspirational profiles of fabulous Street Parks stewards and their gardens.

Julia Brashares is the Land Stewardship Manager at the San Francisco Parks Trust.  She may be reached at julia@sfpt.org.

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Join Mennonite Disaster Service member, Wayne Stucky, as he discusses the recovery efforts being made by faith-based organizations in Lyons, Colorado.