San Francisco Mayor’s urban agriculture plan soon to bear fruit
Mayor Gavin Newsom helps plant edible garden at City Hall. Photo by Scott Chernis / Slow Food Nation
“Urban agriculture is about far more than growing vegetables on an empty lot” says Mayor
San Francisco Chronicle
March 23, 2010
Vegetable gardens will soon be sprouting in unlikely places throughout San Francisco including a building that produces steam to heat the Civic Center, Department of Public Works land in the Bayview, outside McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park and at the San Francisco Police Academy in Diamond Heights.
The public library has installed gardens outside its Mission and Noe Valley branches with plans for more and is leading classes for teens on how to cultivate them.
And the city may soon adopt proposals from private groups to install easy-to-assemble chicken coops in its gardens and send mobile vegetable markets to school pick-up zones and other busy destinations.
It’s all the result of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s executive directive eight months ago to reshape how San Franciscans think about food and choose what to eat.
“Urban agriculture is about far more than growing vegetables on an empty lot,” Newsom told The Chronicle. “It’s about revitalizing and transforming unused public spaces, connecting city residents with their neighborhoods in a new way and promoting healthier eating and living for everyone.”
Newsom unveiled the unusual plan in July. His directive required that all city departments conduct an audit of unused land – including empty lots, windowsills, median strips and rooftops – that could be converted into gardens.
He also demanded that food vendors that contract with the city offer healthful food and that vending machines on city property do the same. He required that farmers’ markets accept food stamps, though some already did. He also put a stop to doughnuts and other junk food at city meetings and conferences.
The plan was deemed silly by some who said it shouldn’t be a priority for the cash-strapped city, but Newsom remains adamant there are long-term benefits to urban agriculture.