Opportunity in an empty lot can help feed a community.
In 2013 San Francisco gave landowners a tax incentive to let their empty lots be used for agricultural and educational purposes. Only empty lots were eligible and properties had to remain undeveloped for a minimum of five years. The bill's intent was to prevent urban blight and increase green space. Lots could even be used for bees and livestock.
Visit our very own permaculture garden at 18th and Rhode Island Streets to see the how our community has benefited. This garden started in 2008 when the owner, Aaron Roland, read a story in the SF Chronicle about using vacant lots to grow food and featured Kevin Bayuk who was to try to find owners willing to let their land be used for urban agriculture. Aaron offered this space to grow food.
Since then, the sloping property has become a community garden developed with the principles of permaculture with help by project developer David Cody, permaculture students and the community. A good history of the project can be read in The Potrero View. The design works with nature but faster: building up the soil and catching and retaining rainwater in swales. The lot doesn’t look like your typical vegetable garden with rows of vegetables in square beds. Instead paths follow the contours of the hill with recycled concrete retaining walls. The plots are planted heavily with fruit trees and many perennial vegetables that require less water. Look for dwarf varieties of fig, apple, plums, pears and more. The front of the garden has cob benches that overlook downtown San Francisco and the far end of the property has a greenhouse/shed made of recycled doors and even has a pond and fish.
Visit dogpatchna.org/scavenger-hunt to join the community fun as our gift to you during this year's "holidays at home" Shelter in Place.