A celebration of local food systems and life on two wheels!
Pedals To Produce took place last Sunday. An epic bicycle adventure to four urban farms. The ride was to introduce people to some amazing things happening with Urban Agriculture right in their own backyards, San Francisco. There is no better way to see how local food is being grown than by bicycle! The four farms all had very different approaches but similar goals to increase growing local food and building a community in San Francisco. Thanks to the SFBC and SFUAA for sponsoring the ride and all the participating gardens for making this ride possible by greeting us and giving us inspiring tours!
The ride began at the Glen Park Farmers Market. Then embarked on the journey to the following four gardens:
Stop Number 1: Little City Gardens
Little City Gardens sits on 3/4 acre on private property in the Outer Mission. The garden is a bit tucked away between houses but once you find it you will be in awe, it’s beautiful. Little City Gardens is a partnership between two women Caitlyn and Brooke. Caitlyn greeted us by providing a brief history and showing us around the luscious green farm. This garden is highly productive growing all types of vegetables. The history of the farm goes back to 2007 and since then they have been working hard to keep the garden growing and get the compost to the level they want. The purpose is to be a sustainable and economically viable urban farm, while also promoting local food systems and community. The garden has tried various ways to sell their produce including CSA, farmers markets, and restaurants. Currently they sell to various restaurants and markets in San Francisco. They also have work days so if you want to go get your hands dirty just sign up for their mailing list!
Stop Number 2: Alemany Farm
Alemany Farm was the biggest farm we visited. Alemany is a 3.4 productive acre farm that has a history rooted back to the late 80s. The farm is owned by the San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks and is open to the public sunrise to sundown. The park use to be an illegal dumping site and now is a beautiful community garden with a flourishing ecosystems. It doesn’t even feel like you’re in the city once you immerse yourself into the greenery. Alemany is ran by a volunteer group and Richard, a long time gardener there, showed us around. Quickly we realized the farm has almost everything you can imagine including tons of produce, fruit trees, vineyards, green roofs, bees, birds, a windmill, and recently a kitchen. Alemany has a focus of increasing food security, environmental justice, and educating local residents about growing your own food. Plus, they have tons of weekend opportunities to get involved!
Volunteer every 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month and the Saturdays in between.
Stop Number 3: NOMADgardens
After biking through Sunday Streets in Bay View and the Dogpatch we made our way to Mission Bay to visit NOMADgardens. NOMADgardens just opened two weeks ago and is already off to a great start. NOMADgardens is a ‘roaming’ community garden. The space is occupying an empty lot in the thick of the developing Mission Bay.Stephanie the founder and other workers at NOMADgardens greeted us to tell us about the current garden and the future of the space. The gardens are above ground in metal tins (raised beds) and available for community members to purchase and grow as they please. The garden eventually will be filling the entire vacant space and is now available for anyone to purchase and become part of the garden.The garden will also have community events, movie nights, workshops, and provide a hub for community members to connect. This garden hopes to fill a void that many urban residents feel, which is lack of space to grow food or meet fellow neighbors. If the garden loses the empty lot space they occupy now they can simply roam onto another vacant location. NOMADgardens has a big vision for their future so be sure to stay connected with them and watch them grow.
If you want to become a gardener simply sign up, or sign up for their email list to be informed of volunteer opportunities.
Stop Number 4: Treat Commons Community Garden & Free Farm Stand
Our last and final stop was in the Mission at the Treat Commons Community Garden and Free Farm Stand. This garden is owned by the San Francisco Parks and Recreation and ran by a community of volunteers. The garden was small but booming with people because the Free Farm Stand was happening right next to it. The food produced in the garden is given to the Free Farm Stand and operates on a sharing community concept where no one has an individual plot but rather volunteers work together to grow the food.
The founder of the Free Farm Stand and long time gardener, Tree, greeted us to tell us about the garden and Free Farm Stand. Tree told us his inspiration for starting the Free Farm stand and his vision of creating a truly “shareable” community in San Francisco that gives away the surplus of food to people who are in need of organic and healthy options. He let us know that 40% of food is wasted in the US every year and this stand is a way to reduce that waste. The Free Farm Stand is all volunteer ran and gets food from a variety of gardens including: community members backyards, Treat Commons Community Garden, Alemany Farm, The Secret Garden, Permaculture Garden, and Free Farm .The hope of the stand is to provide access to local nutritious food to all in need.
Every Sunday the Free Farm Stand is at 23rd and Treat Ave, and every week you can help by giving your extra produce away, gardening in one of the farms, or volunteering.