Northridge Community Garden
Our garden program serves the needs of primarily 300 low and moderate income families in the Northridge Coop Homes community in Hunters Point. Organic produce is first offered to seniors and then to needy residents. There is a lack of close access to fresh produce and many families can’t afford the higher cost of organic produce. Our project also provides improved watershed with our organic orchard and native plant landscaping. Recently, the California College of the Arts volunteered to improve our site and built a beautiful and functional pergola which replaced our original entry. The continued existence of our organic produce garden is dependent on sufficient financial support to pay for work in a neighborhood with a higher unemployment rate than most areas of San Francisco.
Our project will continue to maintain and enhance our community garden, providing paid training for our part-time apprentices who guide our youth to learn the necessary skills to build and maintain an organic produce garden. During the year we will hold a garden festival, both as a means of celebrating successes and as a way to inform our community of garden progress and harvests. Finally, we will use a portion of the funding for materials such as soil to supplement what we are able to produce through composting. Since 2012 when we harvested our first crops, we have distributed over 1 ton of organic produce free of charge to our residents.
Our main goal is to continue to fund apprentice positions to provide mentorship and training for our youth who work in the garden. These past six months we have developed a partnership with Project Bayview, located within a 10 min walk from the garden. Their program provides opportunities for men who are returning to society after serving time in prison, drug and alcohol programs or homelessness. Several have volunteered and proved to be key to engaging our youth, particularly our young men. They have skills that are needed in the garden. A recently hired apprentice has experience with drip irrigation systems and is working with a small group of our high school young men to repair and upgrade our system. Another is a skilled carpenter and has trained both our young men and women in the safe & skilled use of tools to build a functional trellis for our climbing produce. However, they can only volunteer a minimal amount of time and then they have to find paid positions. The SFPA Action Grant will allow us to keep two of the men on board to help improve our garden and strengthen our community.
We want to engage more of our own residents who aren’t aware that we have a community garden or who haven’t visited it. On June 27th we will hold our summer garden festival, bringing families together to learn about our program and to have an opportunity to learn about the many ways we need their help, from cleaning & distributing produce to creating and maintaining a website. This festival is partially funded by a grant that we received from Bayview HEAL Zone last year, to host a garden event in November and had to cancel due to rain. Thanks to the rain we learned that we need more lead time to host such an event. This time we have received support from our Board of Directors who will fund the porta potties, a bounce house and tables and chairs. We are already organizing residents to help with all aspects of the summer festival, from having a talent show to locating portable shade structures or sitting at our garden info booth. This event will prepare us to host a celebration in the fall with a focus on our pumpkin patch for neighborhood children. Funding from the SF Action Grant will enable us to pay a part-time event coordinator and fund incidentals for the event.
Finally, the action fund will provide money for materials and supplies that we often need in the garden, but lack the funds to cover costs. Ongoing expenses include soil, irrigation supplies, tool replacement, equipment rental and unforeseen incidentals. Some garden team members are currently covering the costs of materials, which causes a financial burden. We have not adequately budgeted for these type of expenses in the grants we will be receiving this year.