Posts tagged ‘urban agriculture’

Rally to Keep Recycling in SF!


Sponsored by: Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council


ATTENTION: Small Business Owners, Community Gardeners, Urban Agriculture Activists, Chinese Community Representatives, HANC Recycling and Kezar Gardens Center Advocates and others with a vested stake in Zero Waste, Small Business, Urban Agriculture, and Environmental Legacy in San Francisco.

Bring your support to the steps of City Hall this Tuesday and demand that Mayor Lee take responsibility for the negative impacts set to occur once Haight Ashbury Recycling center is evicted.   We need people, signs, and voices to be heard to achieve the following goals.

  • Retain HANC recycling and Kezar Gardens Center within the Convenience Zone it serves
  • Issue a Hold on Eviction until a Task Force can determine best course of action for all parties
  • Prevent Small Business from Footing the Bill for NIMBY politics
  • Preserve the sustainable economic model: recycling = green jobs + native plants + community gardens in one space
  • Preserve 51 community garden beds and their 100 gardeners
  • Create a task force to find a suitable location to house this important ecology center
  • Reinstate the citizen advisory board to advise Recreation and Park on plans to build a new garden with taxpayer money.

We gather to call attention to a mounting crisis for San Francisco small businesses, consumers and gardens alike. The system for taking back bottles and cans for California Redemption Value (CRV) is broken and may be on the verge of collapse.

The California State Bottle bill requires small markets in the City to accept recycling (bottles and cans) in store if there is no supermarket or recycling center nearby. Stores of any size may opt out of this requirement by paying a $100 a day in lieu fee. While this may not be much for a large grocery store, smaller establishments will be hard pressed to pay it.

Impacts on Small Grocers [or Markets] and Beverage Stores

  • All small stores that sell beverage containers with a CRV deposit must also take those containers back
  • If there is a recycling center nearby or a larger grocery store with recycling services, the store becomes exempt.
  • When HANC recycling and Kezar Gardens closes, there will be no recycling in the area
  • Big Business (Whole Foods) will afford the fee and small business will have to pay up or accept recycling in their stores.
  • The fee is $100/day and up to $36K per year.

Need for Recycling Centers

  • The Small Business Commission is holding hearings to discuss the shortage of recycling in the city now
  • Suspending recycling services in the area will have a negative impact on recycling rates-50% of recycling in SF goes through a recycling center
  • Without a local recycling center, all small businesses will pay high fees or have to accept recycling in store

The existing recycling centers in SF are well utilized but dwindling in numbers. Numbering 30 in 1990, now there are only 21. Statewide, there is one recycling center for every 18,000 residents while there is only one for every 38,000 San Franciscans. Recycling centers in the City receive half of all CRV bottles and cans recycled.

Of the 21 recycling centers in the City, only about 12 are conveniently located at neighborhood supermarkets or nearby. The rest are hard to get to or only consist of reverse vending machines that slowly receive bottles and cans one at a time. As a result long lines are the norm at most City recycling centers.

The City’s eviction of HANC sets a terrible example for supermarkets. HANC has served the Inner Richmond, Inner Sunset and Haight-Ashbury Bottle Bill requirements since the law went into effect in 1987. Other recycling centers are rumored for shut down in the near future, following the lead of the City. The HANC eviction will have a domino effect leaving thousands of San Franciscans and hundreds of stores without a place to recycle.

The Mayor needs to address this crisis now by placing the HANC eviction on hold while a task force is appointed to develop and implement solutions.

HANC recycling has also been a longtime advocate for urban agriculture and habitat restoration.  The money that is generated from recycling pays for green jobs with health insurance as well as a decade old San Francisco Native Plant Nursery.  When HANC learned of the plan to create a community garden in the space, it immediately met the need creating Kezar Gardens, a 51-plot community garden program.  There are currently 100 gardeners who will lose their plots in the event of an eviction.  The Recreation and Park Department has no plan to retain or relocate those gardens or those gardeners.  We demand that the citizen advisory council that was created to advise Recreation and Park on the use of the space be reinstated.  This group should be tasked with the fate of the current gardeners, if they cannot be relocated elsewhere.

There is no other model in the city of San Francisco that demonstrates how recycling contributes to jobs that restore the earth and community programs that educate, celebrate and nurture organic food growth, community health, and an integrated approach to taking environmental action in one half acre of land.


Keep Calm and Recycle On


We are still in the heat of battle against the eviction notice delivered to the ecology center on Thursday.  The leaders of HANC met today and people are working hard to spread the word about this terrible injustice that is in direct opposition to the mandates of the Bottle Bill, Zero Waste and this year’s newly passed Urban Agriculture Ordinance.  We have enlisted the support of our Supervisor in DIstrict 5, Christina Olague as well as Eric Mar from District 1 to help get us all back on track.

We ask that our supporters keep spreading the word via email lists, blogs and social networks.  If you can use the hashtag #StopKezarEviction, we can locate your work out there, too.  We also ask that you take a moment to call your local Supervisor and the Mayor to express your concern over these recent events.  It really seems the only civilized way to resolve great difference is through compromise and that is all we are asking for.  There are many, many users and supporters of recycling, gardening and native plant restoration that will be impacted if this center is not relocated.  Currently, the Recreation and Park Department has no plan to let the innocent gardeners keep their plots.  The Rec Park plan only has about 40 plots-so whenever they finish with all the wasteful construction-they will house far fewer gardeners than are currently there.

As we strive to right this wrong, please do the same.  Don’t throw in the towel just yet-from great need comes great invention and there may be a way to turn this into a win-win for everyone if we put our minds to it.  And, continue to recycle.  Bring in your bottles and cans and leftover cardboard as a revolutionary act!  Leave behind some used cooking oil and old shoes for the free table in the spirit of this good cause.

Keep calm and recycle on!

You can reach the Mayor at

Take a picture of yourself and your revolutionary act of recycling or gardening at Kezar Gardens Ecology Center and send it him as soon as you can!  Together we can demand that our city lives up to its promises of zero waste and more urban agriculture.

Onwards and Upwards!

And check out this great piece on the chaos by Jonathan Farrell:

Human Be-In Then and Now

Sit down with Diamond Dave and Soumyaa Kapil Behrens as they discuss the history of the Hippie Revolution and the first Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park in 1967 on Mutiny Radio.  Diamond Dave was there, at the start of the movement, and will be streaming his show on Mutiny Radio live from the event this weekend.

The Human Be-In kicked off as a “gathering of the tribes” in January of 1967.  This weekend, it will be re-created by a group called the Space TranSFormers.  They hope to raise awareness about the outrageous eviction of Kezar Gardens, the redevelopment plan for Hayes Valley Farm and the removal of the Free Farm in San Francisco. They will openly protest the leadership of the Recreation and Parks Department, namely Phil Ginsburg who has been heavily criticized for pandering to private interests regarding park land governance.

Back in 67, Allen Ginsberg was a beat-nick leader in the movement to live freely, humanely, creatively and passionately; today Phil Ginsburg reasserts that name into a symbol of corruption, power politics, and privatization.  So, if you are going to San Francisco this weekend, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair and and write your lawyer’s number in the pages of your copy of HOWL.  In this Ginsberg v Ginsburg battle of ideology, don’t expect anyone to play fair.  Will love and inclusiveness conquer all?  Or, will it finally be trampled down by hate and exclusive societies who do not care to share?

The conversation goes on all weekend.  Kick off the dialogue with the local band Classical Revolution 3pm Friday September 14th at ground zero: 780 Frederick Street.  Make some love, make some community, make some gardens, and make some history while you are at it.

For more information including schedules:

Come on Down to our Community Garden!


Did you know the waiting lists for most community gardens in San Francisco is years?  Here at Kezar Gardens Ecology Center, our waiting list is currently fifteen people deep.  Sign up today!!  To get your name on the list, you must be a San Francisco resident and send an email to with your name, address, email, phone and subject heading: Community Garden Plot Wait List.


Some readers know that the space at 780 Frederick Street, aka HANC Recycling, aka Kezar Gardens, has been under threat of eviction for almost two years now.  The Recreation and Park Department has gained permission to build another community garden in the space that hosts 50 community garden beds, a native plant nursery, a drop off area for donated recycling of mixed paper, plastics, veggie oil and cardboard, and a state mandated CRV recycling center.  The first phase of the Rec and Park plan will tear up most of the existing gardens and cost $250K.  When the garden would actually be available for use by the public is still not clear.  And, the wait list is over 70 deep already.

What does the future hold?

Option One: Continued Gardening, Recycling and Native Plant Development at 780 Frederick Street that meets the directive of the SF Urban Agriculture Ordinance passed last year and a firm commitment from the nonprofit that runs the site to build four new community gardens over the next year with revenue from recycling.

Option Two: Evict the most unique Ecology center in SF and eventually replace it with a more expensive garden.  Evict over 100 community members who are already actively gardening at this site.  Evict the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, too.

Let’s choose positivity and forward movement.  Rec and Park: Build ANOTHER community garden in Golden Gate Park with the $250K and get more people, not less, participating in the important work of growing our own organic foods close to our homes.  Don’t be responsible for stopping 100 people from achieving their garden dreams-you’re better than that.


Use the resources below to learn more about the new laws surrounding urban agriculture in San Francisco.  See for yourself the myriad of ways in which Kezar Gardens Ecology Center fits into the future of our food and our goals for a less wasteful culture.  Also, hear stories from deep in the garden movement, showing you how hard it is to get a plot and to get to be a part of a plot minded community.

SF Urban Agriculture Ordinance


Hot Plots: High demand makes scarce community gardens tough rows to hoe

By on August 14, 2011

By Twilight Greenaway

When Jamie Smith and her husband moved to a new part of the city, one of the first things they did was put their names on a waiting list for the nearest community garden. Then–after hearing that the average wait was two to three years–they put it out of their minds.

Earlier this year, the couple got a surprising call: There was a garden plot ready for them. It wasn’t quite a winning lottery ticket, but it was close. They got to work preparing the soil and planting veggies. Soon, gardeners from nearby plots started making requests.

“They’d ask if we’d be willing to weed this communal area, or this trim this one,” recalls Jamie. “So we’d do what they asked and they’d just kind of watch.” Soon, she and her husband realized they were being hazed. “They were testing us to see what we were made of,” she says. And she understands why.

“We had to prove that we’d take care of the shared space. It makes sense; garden space is so highly coveted and I guess people often take on a plot without realizing how much work it’s going to be.”

Jamie’s plot is around 15 blocks (uphill) from her house, but that hasn’t stopped her from getting there nearly every day this first spring and summer. “We’ve incorporated it into our running route and our driving route, if we drive anywhere. It’s partly to prove ourselves,” she says. And all this effort feels worth it. “Now that we’ve been there a little while, everyone is extremely friendly; people water for one another when they go out of town, so there’s a certain amount of vetting that happens. It’s like, ‘Are you willing to do for us what we’ll do for you?’ It’s really a community you’re signing on to be part of,” she says.

In a way, San Francisco community gardens are a microcosm of the city. Their exclusivity is a big part of what makes them possible. Ever since the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG) disbanded in 2005, the city’s 40 or so community gardens on public land have been run by the Recreation and Parks Department ( And despite the recent push by everyone from the city Permaculturists to former Mayor Gavin Newsom to see more food grown on public land, there are already quite a few examples at work. Along with Rec and Park land, there are also gardens maintained on land owned by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as well as the Department of Public Works, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and Golden Gate National Recreation Association.

In all but the most remote gardens (in say, Bayview/Hunters Point), epic waiting lists are the norm. But city rules do ensure some turnover. And new gardens appear to be popping up all the time. In the latest example, The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council is pushing for a small garden on the site of the recycling center at 780 Frederick, on the edge of Golden Gate Park. In 2006, the Rec and Park Department adopted a set of policies and standards meant to “provide a uniform framework for community gardens across the city, while at the same time allowing flexibility of management within each garden.” Included in the policies are rules that detail things like compost and tool management, liability, dues and empty plots.

“If a plot appears inactive,” the document reads, coordinators must “notify the gardener with first a verbal warning and then a written 30-day notice,” it reads.

Not that giving notice is easy. Johanna Gendelman, coordinator of the Connecticut Friendship Garden, likes to keep active as many as possible of the 31 plots in the all-organic Potrero Hill precisely because she has 42 other people waiting to try their luck at establishing a regular gardening habit. She says that giving lapsed gardeners notice is the worst part of her role. “I’ve had to put up with name-calling, and all kinds of terrible behavior,” she says.

Gendelman is a single mom who’s been growing food for 12 years and coordinating Connecticut Friendship Garden for the last six. She and her young son are looking forward to harvesting tomatoes, beans and pumpkins later this summer, and a long-term relationship with the same plot has allowed her to grow the kinds of perennials that are unusual in the city–like asparagus and irises. And while a select few of the other gardeners she started with have held on to their plots in the intervening years, she says “some people really can’t handle it; year-round gardening is a little daunting.”

Members pay only $25 a year in dues, but the work extends beyond the plot. Gendelman requires her members to attend at least one of the six work days she hosts a year, and one meeting.

Gendelman, who has a degree in horticultural therapy, believes deeply in the power of gardening, and is glad to see so many urban dwellers taking the plunge. “We have to grow our own food, and maintain those skills in our society,” she says. But she wonders if the current system for managing community gardens is working in the big-picture sense.

“I’ve never met a gardener who doesn’t mention how much they get out of it emotionally,” Gendelman says. “But what’s not sustainable is the [volunteer] coordinators.”

She’s had years when she’s had to use the garden’s small budget to hire people to help build beds, haul mulch and maintain the communal spaces, simply because not enough gardeners showed up to work days. And more importantly, although Gendelman has encountered severe health problems this year and would like to pass on her coordinator responsibilities, she says, “I can’t give my job away.” It’s an ironic dilemma to have when you consider the long list of eager gardeners waiting to get in (in this case 2-3 years minimum), but the city requires pre-existing members to step up, despite the fact that most have no little or no motivation to do so.

Of course, some coordinators are more than happy to do the work. Phyllis Hunt runs the Michelangelo Community Garden in North Beach, where she gardens alongside a diverse group of families, single people and seniors. She enjoys playing the coordinator role and has been heartened by what she calls “a really collegial group.” The garden gets the retiree out of the house and although she tends to focus on flowers lately, Hunt has also been known to coax a decent tomato or two from her small plot.

Michelangelo Community Garden, which was built beside a playground in the late ’80s after a group of community members organized to have an asphalt lot torn up, is small and surprisingly secluded considering its proximity to downtown San Francisco. It boast only 20 plots and there are currently 33 people waiting for the 1-2 plots Hunt expects will turn over this year. To hear her describe the quiet garden, or give advice to nascent horticulturists (“The worst that can happen is something dies and you try again”), you might never know that Hunt is responsible for several of the more soughtafter pieces of soil around.

This content was published in the Summer 2011 issue of Edible San Francisco Magazine. © 2011 Edible San Francisco This website and its content is a copyrighted work of Edible Communities, Inc. © 2011. All rights reserved. You may not, except with our express written consent, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it on any other website or other electronic or printed form.

Edible San Francisco

Pioneers in Urban Agriculture


Thanks to State Assembly Member Tom Ammiano for issuing certificates of excellence to our Community Gardeners at Kezar Ecology Center.  We are proud to honor the revolutionary efforts of community members gardening at Kezar as a form of protest against the impending eviction by the Recreation and Parks Department.  Sixteen green thumb activists were lauded with the California Legislative Seal and the following statement from Assembly Member Tom Ammiano:


We celebrate your generosity and perseverance in helping to establish Kezar Gardens Ecology Center, one of the first community gardens of its kind.  Your diligent service has allowed many in our community to appreciate nature as never before.  Thank you for taking the time to make this city a better place.  We look forward to your success in years to come.  Congratulations!”


The Kezar Gardens Ecology Center has vowed to continue their garden-recycling-native plant model as long as is possible.  Aside from the gardens at 780 Frederick Street, KGEC has provided support to numerous urban agriculture projects around the city.  They are the fiscal sponsor for the Garden For the Environment, taking them under their wing when the SF League of Urban Gardeners dissolved and helped underwrite the program during times of economic need.  This included fronting the money for the Victory Gardens at City Hall.  They provided mulch and cardboard to Hayes Valley Farm to help erect their initiative in 2010 as well.  They have worked with Nature In The City, Food not Bombs, and will be donating the plants to start the native garden in the panhandle later this year.  With continued operation, Kezar Gardens could erect four new gardens-at zero cost to the city-over a year’s time-funded by buyback recycling.  Is that an offer our city can afford to refuse?

There are currently over four hundred people on a wait list for a garden plot in the city of San Francisco.

All Chained Up!

Community members stopped by Kezar Gardens Ecology Center to help save our site last Sunday.  We collected pictures of patrons chaining themselves to the fence to demonstrate their support of this unique garden, native plant and recycling space in Golden Gate Park.  Check out the highlights below!

Taking creative action to help protect unique Urban  Agriculture initiatives is one thing you can do too!  If you missed our chained-up party but still want your mug taken wrapped up in civil disobedience, email to schedule an appointment!

We shall not be moved.  We shall overcome.  Stop the Eviction.