Hayes Valley Farm Seeds Urban Agriculture, Biodiversity, and Youth Education Projects across San Francisco as It Bids Farewell
Farm honored by City and State Officials for contributions to community through interim-use land activation
June 3, 2013 - San Francisco. Hayes Valley Farm welcomed volunteers for the last time Friday, May 31st, to save seeds and celebrate three and a half years of building soil, planting edibles, and growing community. The group’s dynamic activation of public space through weekly volunteer opportunities and ongoing free events, as well as its central location in the heart of San Francisco, attracted a steady stream of over 20,000 volunteers from the surrounding neighborhood and the world throughout the course of the project.
Since the farm project opened its gates in January of 2010, the interim-use project has focused on strengthening community and raising awareness about growing local food. Education has been a mainstay of the farm and continues to be a central theme in the farm’s numerous legacy projects.
Last month, volunteers distributed the farm’s resources to community gardens across the city in fulfillment of the farm’s interim-use agreement with the City of San Francisco. The farm’s efforts continue in its legacy projects at other sites throughout San Francisco, which activate community and land through site-specific projects that evolve with local partnerships and sustainable practices.
“We are proud of how we’ve demonstrated the potential of permaculture-style gardening to transform urban space. Since we only had the land for a short time, our goal was to inspire more people to grow food in the city. In closing Hayes Valley Farm we have joyfully continued this mission. It’s amazing to see how many new projects have started. So many people have been by to pick up soil, seeds, and plants to spread them to backyards and community spaces all over the city.
- Jessie Raeder, Hayes Valley Farm Leadership Team
The Hayes Valley Farm Leadership Team, which facilitates projects at the all-volunteer run organization, anticipated its eventual transition off the site’s land. From the start, the Leadership Team has emphasized the farm’s focus as a demonstration project of how community and soil can be grown with the activation of interim-use land.
“Hayes Valley Farm is a champion of interim-use farming. Not only does interim-use provide an opportunity to rethink how we use the land and demonstrate how much food can be grown in a given area, it also allows us to engage in education, outreach, community building, and to develop broader, transportable, resiliency models that we feel are essential in this era of transition and transformation.
Hayes Valley Farm is committed to working with representatives in city government and our community in a positive and straightforward manner to find viable options for continuing our work.”
- Hayes Valley Farm’s Transition Statement
Knowing the project site at 450 Laguna Street was interim-use, core volunteers and organizers from Hayes Valley Farm have spent the past year sprouting new projects, including urban farms, community gardens, youth education and biodiversity projects. From its inception, the farm has supported sharing resources and knowledge through community programs, such as its Seed Library.
“I’d love to see it explode into fireworks so that little farm projects start popping up all over, as a space to grow food, recycle, create compost, take classes and share tools.”
- Jay Rosenberg, Hayes Valley Farm Leadership Team
Many legacy projects share the farm’s commitment to the activation of public space, permaculture, zero waste, and neighborhood participation. Legacy projects also include education and garden projects that have received resources from Hayes Valley Farm, such as its seeds, plants, soil, greenhouses, and art created from recycled materials.
Hayes Valley Farm is well-known for its rapid transformation of the on and off-ramps of the Central Freeway into a community garden, lending to its epithets as a “Freeway Food Forest” and “Farm on a Freeway.”
One of the first and largest initiatives of the 2.2 acre site was building soil on the land’s ivy-covered on and off-ramps with 80,000 pounds of cardboard from the waste stream and 1200 cubic yards of organic matter, including mulch, manure, and local kitchen scraps. The farm’s first year was an explosion of energy and spontaneously formed partnerships. Thousands of volunteers answered the call to lend a shovel and rallied to create community through collaborative efforts such as designing permaculture plant guilds, shaping a lateral governance structure, rendering large-scale art projects, educating youth, producing an unmistakable identity with blue tape and social media participation, and hosting community events.
The farm’s events were free and open to all. Weekly events included outdoor yoga and the Photo Adventure Club. Annual and seasonal events included the Farm Film Night series, July 4th Interdependence Day Celebration, Dusker, and the Cardboard Tube Duel.
History of the 450 Laguna Site
The Central Freeway north of Market Street was torn down in phases after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The eventual farm site changed ownership from CalTrans to the City of San Francisco during the two decades following the earthquake. A passionate debate over ownership ensued and culminated in a freeway riot, when residents and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association demanded that the site not be designated a major thoroughfare.
The land was slated for development and divided into Parcels O and P, which the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association later requested be activated for a community gardening project in the interim. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) worked with the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association to create a groundbreaking interim-use agreement lease with Hayes Valley Farm.
The San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA) has provided fiscal sponsorship to Hayes Valley Farm, including facilitation of the farm’s interim-use license agreement with the City.
“I am grateful to have been involved from the start to witness the evolution of the landscape and the human power behind Hayes Valley Farm. It was truly one of the most unique and inspiring examples of what volunteers can do when given the freedom to create community, and people from all around the City responded and developed a real connection to the space”
- Maria D’Angelico, SFPA Project Manager
Recognition and Impact on Local and State Levels
At the Final Farm Fiesta on Sunday, May 5th, Hayes Valley Farm’s last large public event, project participants accepted certificates of achievement on behalf of the Offices of District 5 Supervisor London Breed, Mayor Edwin Lee and Assemblyman Philip Ting. Representatives from these offices and from the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association attended the event to publicly commend the farm visionaries and volunteers on their achievements.
“Whereas, on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, I am pleased to recognize and honor Hayes Valley Farm. Your willingness to sustainably grow food on two former freeway parcels along Octavia Boulevard has been a significant contribution to the Hayes Valley community. Thank you for activating the space through interim-use farming and engaging our community with education, outreach, community building, and new, innovative approaches to urban agriculture. Congratulations and best wishes in all your future endeavors!”
- Mayor Edwin M. Lee’s Certificate of Honor
The Hayes Valley Farm project is proof of what is possible when community members, neighborhood groups, nonprofits, and city departments collaborate across varied arenas and think progressively about activating underutilized land for public engagement.
Hayes Valley Farm stands as a pillar of the urban agriculture movement and continues to shape urban agriculture policy at local and state levels. In the past 3.5 years, The Urban Agriculture Ordinance expanded health codes to allow produce grown at urban farms to be saleable, and the passage of the Cottage Food Law allowed for the homemade crafting and sale of many foods that previously had to be created and packaged in commercial kitchens, lending momentum to the local food movement and its economies. State Assemblyman Phil Ting recently proposed the Urban Ag Bill AB551, which would provide tax incentives to land owners who offer their sites up to interim use gardening projects.
“When I see urban gardens sprouting up throughout the city, I am inspired by them, and I hope they will proliferate. I’m hoping AB 551 will spur growth in the urban agriculture movement.”
- Phil Ting, State Assemblyman Representing the 19th District
Local government agencies such as OEWD and District 5 have worked closely with Hayes Valley Farm leadership to spawn new projects in San Francisco.
“Recognizing your years of providing the citizens of San Francisco an inspirational gathering space, the San Francisco board of supervisors extends its highest gratitude and admiration to Hayes Valley Farm for their great work of activating the community and pioneering urban gardening. Hayes Valley Farm served as an agricultural oasis in the middle of our great city that was open to all and was an example of great service to the community. Hayes Valley Farm, we are grateful for your years of valuable commitment to San Francisco. The City and County of San Francisco commends you for your community work and dedication.”
- Office of District 5 Supervisor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors, City and County of San Francisco’s Certificate of Honor
Hayes Valley Farm encourages community members who are interested in activating green space to volunteer at one of its legacy projects in San Francisco. Urban Commons SF will be hosting their first Community Open Market July 13. Permaculture SF lists upcoming volunteer opportunities at Hayes Valley Farm Legacy Projects and other community-based projects throughout San Francisco.
About Hayes Valley Farm
Hayes Valley Farm is a volunteer-led community project with a lateral governance structure. The Hayes Valley Farm leadership team includes Janelle Fitzpatrick, Angela Goebel, Margaretha Haughwout, Zoey Kroll, Jessie Raeder, Jay Rosenberg and Ron Stanford.
Hayes Valley Farm’s Transition Announcement states the Leadership Team’s plan to vacate Parcel P and Parcel O, per its interim-use license agreement with the City and County’s Real Estate Division.
Photo Credits: The attached group photo of the past and present Leadership Team at Hayes Valley Farm were taken by Eric James Parthum at the Final Farm Fiesta on May 5th. Some of the best photographs of Hayes Valley Farm, taken by Zoey Kroll, can be found on Flickr.
Dear Hayes Valley Farm,
I live in the neighborhood, and would like to say thank you for bringing calm and beauty to Hayes Valley for as long as you did. Walking past your space always put an extra spring in my step because I love seeing plants grow and thrive, especially in urban areas where they are less expected. You all brought a lot of happiness to the neighborhood just by doing what you do, and you will be missed."
Thank you so much to Don, Pat, Abbot Myogen Steve Stucky, and the many folks from the San Francisco Zen Center for Wednesday’s beautiful ceremony to say goodbye and honor the trees of Hayes Valley Farm.
We share some of the words and chants below.
The Earth is a Being Who Deserves to be Loved
(A poem written by Daisy Aldan and read by Don and Pat):
The Earth is a Being Who Deserves to be Loved
Wounded with bombs and highways, the Earth coughs, bleeds,
and warns, and is not heard nor heeded.
And still she loves, her tremendous heart
expanding, contracting in awesome measure.
After the magical thrust through root and bark
of blood-streams of seas and thunderous rivers,
magnificently various, she offers
the sacrifice of elegance, in flowers.
Multiple is she in anger and reverence,
passion and prayer. Even in catastophe
and tempest, confounding harmonies enlighten.
She is haloed with many balancing haloes,
each day crowned with a corona of caroling
as bird-note meets bird-note at dawn moving westward.
Warmed, made fertile and lucent by her Sun,
laved by her rains, loved by her delicate snows,
I see her sleeping dreaming, waking,
streaming rays from glorious eyes, of blue light;
measuring the secret of us all in a mighty
splendid montage, she is hermaphrodite.
Let the palm of our love caress the line
of her multiform breasts; the hips of her hills;
embrace her tree barks, mightier than books;
lie in her arms. She will give us golden bread, and wine.
Chant for the Well Being of the Trees and all Life
Emnei Jukku Kannon Gyo - Invocation of Compassion
Kan ze on na mu butsu
yo butsu u in yo butsu u en
Bup po so en
jo raku ga jo
cho nen kan ze on
bo nen kan ze on
nen nen ju shin ki nen nen fu ri shin
All awakened beings throughout space and time;
All living beings: birds, worms, plants, trees, water and air;
The living compost, sunlight, soil, and Earth;
Wisdom beyond wisdom;
Maha Prajna Paramita.
This Land is Your Land
(Words and music by Woody Guthrie)
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me and endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me
I’ve roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me
The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me
In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some a grumbling’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.
As I was walking’ - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin’
But on the other side … it didn’t say nothin!
This land was made for you and me!
Hayes Valley Farm will be open for one more week. We’ll be open every day (see schedule below), and we hope you’ll visit us to be part of the fun and say hello and goodbye one more time! Come check out our free items for giveaway (pictures here), get free mulch and soil as part of our ongoing great mulch giveaway, and pick up plants at our sliding scale plant sale. We could also use volunteer help with the last stretch of moving items, transplanting, and seed-saving. No need to sign up, just show up. Hope to see you!
Hayes Valley Farm - open every day this week:
Check out the Hayes Valley Farm Legacy Projects here.
Project M*A*S*H OUTventory - “Angela and Mark prep the Cobb oven for moving to Recology’s artist and residency courtyard by the beecology hives!” (taken at Hayes Valley Farm)
Drop by and say hi at today’s Urban Permaculture Design Class! Courses will be moving to The Bee Farm and Please Touch Community Garden after our move off the Hayes Valley Farm site on June 1. Find continuing classes, courses, and internships in Urban Permaculture at www.49farms.org.