A Farmer in the Parking Garage
One man’s parking garage is the same man’s garden — where he’s proving it’s possible to grow a significant portion of his own food at home, even in a San Francisco apartment building!
By Jon Brooks
August 4, 2010
It started three years ago with a single tomato plant. Today, he and his wife Ellen estimate that they grow 25-30 percent of their total food intake. Current crops include tomatoes, peas, blackberries, raspberries, basil, carrots, mushrooms and several types of lettuce, almost all cultivated in nine half-barrels of soil, tucked away in a corner of their San Francisco apartment’s parking garage. He is also growing sprouts in a couple of jars on his kitchen table.
Gene tells the story of his project’s germination (pun intended):
“When 9/11 happened, I thought a lot about what importance it had to me personally. At that time I was working mostly in theater and it just felt like sitting around memorizing lines wasn’t what I ought to be doing. I wanted to have my own actions be reflective of something positive with respect to what had happened. I was thinking about how oil and all the energy used in mass food production was one of the problems. That thought just evolved.”
Part of that evolution was a moment of clarity that came to him while looking at a package of frozen blueberries. “The blueberries came from Serbia,” he recalls. “I’m living in California and eating in my oatmeal blueberries shipped from Serbia. Finally, I got too bothered by my growing understanding of just what’s involved in buying a simple tomato to not do something.”