This is the last Spring of Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco; hurry up if you’ve never been there. In fact, if you are not in the Bay Area it’s worth flying here just to have a feel of it once in your life. It’s the urban farming oasis that makes you understand why “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” is the simplest yet most popular pre school rhyme in this country. Just a stroll around its calm groves, a pick into the nursery where vegetables are protected from the elements and coached through their sprouting phases, finishing up with a moment of relaxation laying in one of the hammocks available brings us back to the source. Back to simpler times, simple lives when most of United States populations lived in farms.
The volunteers that run it knew the occupation of the prime urban real state plot was temporary since its inception. Hayes Valley Farm is an interim-use urban farm project. Their agreement with the City and County of San Francisco had been to “develop the ecology and grow food on the site only until those with prior claim to the land were able to move forward with projects that had been in the works for some time.” According to their website, this past January, they’ve “received final word of the formal termination of the license agreement from the City and County’s Real Estate Division. On March 1st, as part of this agreement they transitioned off of the south half of the property. By June 1st, they plan to be off of the site completely.”
A freeway-ramp-turned-food-forest situated in the heart of San Francisco (on city-owned lots bordered by Oak, Fell, Laguna, and Octavia streets), Hayes Valley Farm is organized by an alliance of urban farmers, educators, and designers, and actualized by countless community volunteers. On 450 Laguna Street at Fell, San Francisco residents were able to grow food together, share knowledge and resources, and build community.
Note that the spirit of the farm is not set to disappear: they are looking for ways to continue spreading the seeds of change: “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. The 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. The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association have all been, and continue to be, strong advocates for the efforts we are pursuing. We continue to explore and discuss potential next generation parcels of land in order to continue our vision. We are working together to find options to continue our vision and we welcome all constructive contributions to that effort.”
I just hope that they find their new spot soon. The farm inspired me to create a whole section of my book, “Catching Red Herring”; it’s where the protagonist falls in love with the hottie who helps her take the leap towards taking her dream trip. Yep, it’s that inspiring of a place. Hope if finds a new home worthy of its beautiful beginnings.
Judith Sakhri writes and teaches yoga in San Francisco. She gives away her recipes at thatbraziliangirl.com and has just finished her first novel, “Catching Red Herring.”