Greenius visits community gardens in San Francisco

In our recent visit to San Francisco we had the chance to visit some community gardens around the city. Our intention was twofold: on one hand to see these spaces first hand, know about their history and how they work; on the other hand, to get as much feedback as possible about Greenius from the gardeners, learn their needs and wants.

 

Let me tell you, it was not easy to access the gardens. At first we just dropped by the gardens but found them close every time. Next, we left our business cards on the gates and emailed some garden coordinators. We had a great response and can’t thank them enough for letting us taking a peek at their urban havens.

 

Here are the 4 community gardens that received us in their grounds:

 

1. Alioto Community Garden

Alioto Community Garden

 

Alioto Community Garden is a small space located in the ebullient neighbourhood of Mission. It hosts 26 plots (with a 2 years waiting list) that are tended by an heterogeneous mix of people, from 20 somethings to seniors. Outside of fenced area of the raised beds the garden has a playground and benches for families and locals to play and relax.

 

2. Dearborn Community Garden

born Community GardenDear

 

Dearborn Community Garden is also located in Mission, a couple of blocks away from sunny Dolores Park. This garden has gone through some struggle in its inception and the gardeners hold a strong sense of community due to the history but also in face of the changes their neighbourhood is going through in recent years due to gentrification.

 

I was welcomed by gardener Marko Serpas with some iced herbal tea and fresh sliced tomatoes (from the garden, of course). I also had the pleasure of having long time members Lisa and Fred talking about Dearborn’s past and present, with Johnny recording me (!) with his camera.

 

This garden has 44 plots with 200+ people in the waiting list (Johnny had just gotten a plot after more than 12 years in the list). But aside of gardening and food growing, Dearborn is a gathering place for the community. It was described to me as a sacred space and life saver, and it has hosts picnics, weddings and memorial services. A special place, indeed.

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The 10 most inspiring urban gardening projects around the world

Sometimes urban gardening is not just about gardening, it’s much much more. It’s about empowering the powerless, engaging the community, creating new roots, giving a purpose to those drifting in life, a tool for change.

Here are some of the most uplifting social and educational urban gardening projects that I have come across since we kicked off Greenius (in no particular order):

 

1. New Roots (US)

New Roots is a program by the International Rescue Committees (IRC) to help refugees settle in the United States by literally growing new roots in American soil. They have gardens in New York, Seattle, Sant Lake City, Phoenix, San Diego and Boise, and an award winning video series explaining what they do. Actress Rashida Jones is one of their many supporters.

 

New Roots

 

2. Refutrees (Palestine)

Palestinian refugees are in the news these days (as they have been sadly for decades), and Refutrees is trying to alleviate their plight by creating rooftop community gardens. Their pilot project is set in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp, interweaving humanitarian work with sustainability and food sovereignty.

 

refutrees

 

3. Guerrilla Gardening (Global)

Guerrilla Gardening is a global movement set out to reclaim neglected public spaces and grow plants, flowers, vegetables or trees in them.  Londoner Richard Reynolds maintains a website reporting news from the front and Ron Finley from Los Angeles is another charismatic spokesman for the movement:

 

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Gardening in foggy, sandy, steep San Francisco

Last Saturday I had the pleasure to attend an urban composting class in the beautiful Garden for the Environment (GFE) in San Francisco, California. This independent non-for-profit organizations hosts public garden teaching events in their half acre garden located on 7th Avenue at Lawton St. The project was founded in 1990 to show San Franciscan how to garden organically and water-wisely in their specific climate and soil conditions. GFE hosts educational programs, workshops and organize field trips and events. Every Saturday volunteers harvest the produce that is later donated to the homeless youth.

 

After the hands-on workshop (lots of chopping!), Maggie kindly gave me a tour of their colourful and fragrant space and talked about their projects and goals.

 

It’s a well known fact that California is suffering a severe drought so one of the priorities of Gardening for the Environment is to teach and create advocates for water wise gardening.

 

Rain water

Rain water harvesting from the greenhouse roof

 

The garden is organized in several section to demonstrate gardening techniques such as Hydrozoning, which entails to group plants with similar water needs, thus minimizing water usage.

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Urban gardening is around us! Our visit to Ekogunea

In the previous blog post, we talked about the organic movement that is taking place in San Francisco and in the Valley. There, the movement of urban gardens started a few decades ago, however, in the Basque Country it’s more recent and not that well known.

 

As you may know, Greenius has been developed in the Mondragon Valley, so we set out to discover what is going on around us. We started with a brief research of urban gardens in the Gipuzkoa region, and it has been quite a surprise what we found out: there are 8 ecocenters in different towns across the region called Kutxa Ekogunea, after Kutxa’s social initiative.

 

Ekogunea

 

One of them, the ecocenter of Miramon, located in the outskirts of the beautiful city of San Sebastian, is an ambitious project that will have  an urban garden park, an eco-square, a cultural and language center, a horticultural school and a energy platform. Today this center is under construction, but the urban garden park is already in place and operating.

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The 10 coolest urban gardens in the world

Urban farms and gardens are sprouting everywhere. Now that more than half of the global population lives in cities, it makes sense: growing food where most food is eaten.

These are some of the neat urban gardening projects across the globe: some are social movements, others commercial endeavours, all inspiring:

1. Prinzessinnengarten (Berlin)

Prinzessinnengarten is a green and social project in the heart of Berlin, in the Kreuzberg district. Since 2009 an urban wasteland has been reclaimed with the help of hundreds of volunteers, creating a vibrant space for growing herbs and vegetables, always open for the community.

 

 

2. Graze the Roof (San Francisco)

Graze the Roof is a community garden installed on the roof on the progressive Glide Memorial Church in the Bay Area. Built with upcycled materials and equipped with a worm composting system, it hosts workshops for the community and other social activities whilst growing vegetables and keeping bees.

 

 

3. Brooklyn Grange Farm (NYC)

One of the most fascinating (and media favourite) urban agriculture projects of recent years, Brooklyn Grange Farm grows organic produce that sells in New York City markets, as well as to local restaurants and retailers. They even run a CSA program (fully booked!) and the lush space can be booked for events. Watch this mesmerizing video showing a growing season in 3 minutes:

 

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