Whether or not you agree with Danny Glover about the Haight-Ashbury Recycling Center at 780 Frederick Street, plans are rapidly moving forward for a new community garden slated to take its place.
One of the first public meetings regarding the organization of the nascent garden convened January 31st at McLaren Lodge, and was facilitated by the prolific park advocate, Isabel Wade. Many were present, including representatives from other SF community gardens as well as Hayes Valley Farm, to hear about the plans and offer their two cents. Marvin Yee, from the Recreation and Park Department (RPD), gave an informative presentation covering everything from the general structure and policies of San Francisco Community Gardens to the specific proposal for this garden that was approved by the Rec and Parks Commission in December.
As can be seen in the provided diagram, there are already many intriguing ideas built into the initial plan, including a tool lending library (set to be a partnership with DPW) and large material bins of soil and mulch which might be open not only to those with a plot in the garden, but the rest of the community as well. In addition, the RPD has invited Greg Gaar to continue operating the Native Plant Nursery in the new garden (number 9 on the map). The current proposal makes space for approximately 40 community plots that will each be around 40-60 sq ft. Seventy five percent of the plots will be designated for individual use while the remaining twenty-five percent will be group plots for schools and other organizations.
Due to the availability of funds and to provide an extra level of flexibility, the 0.66 acre garden is set to be developed in two phases. The first phase contains those aspects that are most vital, such as the community plots, compost bins, and a greenhouse. The future phase is mostly up in the air, but could possibly include a small fruit orchard, demonstration gardens, an outdoor classroom, or even more community garden plots depending on demand.
The construction of phase 1 and initial plot assignments are to be administered jointly by SFGro and RPD, while future major maintenance endeavors (such as repairing beds or other structures) will fall under the purview of RPD. Day to day upkeep and management will be provided by volunteers and a soon to be established steering committee.
As is always true of any government undertaking, the budget was a point of contention for some meeting attendees. The seemingly exorbitant amount of $250K has been allocated for the initial construction, and even Yee seemed skeptical whether that would be sufficient to complete everything proposed in phase one. Many ideas to minimize the initial costs of construction were mentioned, including using recycled materials and garnering the potentially significant input of volunteer labor. Yee himself proposed a workday/fundraiser, where members of the community could stop by and donate their time, money or both. Similar workdays have been very successful at various locations around the city such as the Hayes Valley Farm and the Garden for the Environment in the Inner Sunset.
With construction green-lighted to begin as early as March 1st, community outreach needs to get itself in gear if they wish to amass enough volunteer labor to substantially affect initial costs. For those who wish to be involved in the planning process or volunteer their time and energy, the next meeting is scheduled for February 14th 5:30-7pm at McLaren Lodge in GG Park. Or if you’re simply interested in obtaining a plot at the garden, send an email to Marvin.Yee@sfgov.org.