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Farming in the city

Volunteers transform a dumping ground into an urban oasis.



San Francisco is a world-renowned hot spot for great restaurants, food and chefs. But now the city is gaining notoriety for something else. Community gardens are sprouting up everywhere you look, including the Alemany Farm in Bernal Heights.

An unlikely spot as any for a farm, it’s actually right next to a bustling freeway. But the farm has become an oasis in the city and is an area where hundreds of people get involved in growing a variety of fruits and vegetables year-round.

The Alemany Farm provides fresh produce to low-income families living in the area and a safe ground for children to work, play and learn where food really comes from. Everything from collard greens and kale to strawberries and even artichokes grow and thrive here, thanks in large part to the throngs of volunteers who make the farm possible. The farm is small—only about 4 1/2 acres—but because of the volunteer efforts, it can produce about 6,000 pounds of food a year.

It’s hard to believe it now, but the land used for the farm was once a dumping ground for old cars and other junk. The first seeds for change were planted back in the early 1990s, but it took awhile for the project to sprout anything tangible. The land is currently under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, yet residents and volunteers are clearly in charge of day-to-day operations as they not only enjoy the camaraderie of working alongside family and friends, but also the fruits of their labor. All participants get to enjoy the fruit and vegetables they grow and pick themselves.

For more information about the Alemany Farm, visit www.alemanyfarm.org.


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