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Urban Farming

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pet Baby Goats, Eat Goat Cheese, and More at the Ferry Building's Fifth Annual Goat Festival

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Got goats? According to Flickr these adorable creatures are named Luna and Piper. - FLICKR/BRENDON BURTON
  • Flickr/Brendon Burton
  • Got goats? According to Flickr these adorable creatures are named Luna and Piper.
Unless you grew up with goats, there's a good chance you know little of them beyond that occasional creamy cheese you lick from your sandwich wrapper. Goatlessness is a sad condition of urban dwelling, but it doesn't have to be. Goats are wonderful beasts -- intelligent, playful, and picky eaters who get sidelined in the public imagination as mindless garbage-munching creatures.

As one would expect, Northern California is rife with advocates who are ready to change our minds about that, and they'll be here Saturday to feed you and teach you about the glory of goats and all they produce at the Fifth Annual Goat Festival. The festival is the project of CUESA, the Ferry Building Marketplace, and the Northern California Makers of Goat Milk Products.

See also: Watch Talking Goats Dressed as Elves Sell California Goat Cheese

Biscuit Bender Opens Ferry Building Kiosk

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Learn to Be a Farmer at Farm School

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Break out your dungarees and get ready for Farm School. - FLICKR/IAN SANE

On the heels of the news that Hayes Valley Farm, the demonstration farm and education center, is closing, 18 Reasons has announced a new series of classes called Farm School. The class description explains that it's not a "comprehensive how-to-start-a-farm class," but that it's "perfect for people interested in the politics and practicalities of small scale organic farming in the Bay Area."

Half of the ten-session course consist of lectures at 18 Reasons on the logistics and business of starting a farm, while the other half will be hands-on courses at the Bi-Rite Farm and Sonoma Garden Park in Sonoma.

See also: Hayes Valley Farm to Close by June 1

Controversy Over Dodge Ram's "God Made a Farmer" Ad

Ecopia Farms Brings Organic, Restaurant-Quality Greens Year-Round

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Hayes Valley Farm to Close by June 1

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 10:50 AM

If you, like me, have been meaning to go check out the scene at Hayes Valley Farm but haven't gotten the chance yet, now's the time to make it a priority. The farm's organizers announced on their blog over the weekend that the city of San Francisco is finally going to make use of the land, meaning that the farm has to pull up its roots and find other digs.

See also: What's Happening at Hayes Valley Farm?

Hayes Valley Farm Begins Beekeeping Classes One Year After the Insecticide

Hayes Valley Farm Beekeeper Mourns Slaughtered Colonies, Plots Next Steps

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hayes Valley Farm Begins Beekeeping Classes One Year After the Insecticide

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Haven't you always wanted to do this? - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Haven't you always wanted to do this?

Last July, the volunteers at Hayes Valley Farm discovered that someone -- probably an irate neighbor -- had broken into the farm overnight and sprayed insecticide into three beehives on the site. A quarter of a million bees died, several thousand dollars' worth of honey was ruined, and the young urban farm suffered its biggest shock to date. When SFoodie spoke to beekeeper Karen Peteros the day after the discovery, she told us she wasn't sure she was going to install new colonies.

Less than a year later, though, Peteros hasn't just tripled the amount of hives on the farm -- she's about to start offering biweekly beekeeping classes.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Free Indoor Gardening Fair in Oakland is NOT About Weed

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 1:20 PM

First Annual Spring Fling Hydroponic and Organic Gardening Fair

Where: Technical Institute for Indoor Gardening, 681 Fourth St. (at Castro), Oakland, 510-891-1557

When: Sat. and Sun., Mar. 5-6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cost: Free

The rundown: Just like those "tobacco filtration" devices you can purchase at head shops around the country, this weekend's hydroponic gardening fair is not about weed. With advertising that boasts a full line of renewable energy products, sales on bulk soil, and lighting workshops at 11 and 2 each day, this exhibition is trying its darndest to show that hydro gardening isn't just for stoners. So come to Oakland for some great instructional information on how to grow, like, parsley in your closet. There will also be free organic snacks from "Chef Lamundo" (who?), which may be better than the Cheese Whiz and Bacon Bits you were planning to munch on the couch.

Check out other upcoming events on SFoodie.

New York refugee Jesse Hirsch tweets at @Jesse_Hirsch. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Get Your Farm On: Urban Ag Classes at BioFuel Oasis

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 2:18 PM

One of the happiest little co-ops in the Bay Area. - KEOKI SEU/FLICKR
  • Keoki Seu/Flickr
  • One of the happiest little co-ops in the Bay Area.

BioFuel Oasis may sound like opaque corporate doublespeak (see: Deepwater Horizon), but it's actually one of the happiest little co-ops in the Bay Area. Founded in 2003, this five-person Berkeley operation specializes in making ever-useful biodiesel fuel from recycled vegetable oil. More important for you, oh aspiring DIY-er, is the host of affordable classes BioFuel Oasis is hosting in 2011.

With offerings ranging from Backyard Goats to Sourdough Cultivation, these classes are a hot commodity for anyone interested in city farming and food cultivation. So hot, in fact, that they've been filling up in a Berkeley minute. This weekend's offerings, Backyard Beekeeping and Urban Fruit Trees, are already at capacity* but here is your chance to sign up for future classes before it's too late. Still available:

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Friday, December 24, 2010

The Year in Food: DIY Revolution

Posted By on Fri, Dec 24, 2010 at 8:10 AM

Pickles from Happy Girl Kitchen Co. at the Eat Real Fest, which drew 110,000 to Oakland for street food and urban homesteading demos. - JOSEPH SCHELL
  • Joseph Schell
  • Pickles from Happy Girl Kitchen Co. at the Eat Real Fest, which drew 110,000 to Oakland for street food and urban homesteading demos.

Twelve months, ten storylines: It's SFoodie's annual look back at the year in food.

At the far end of the spectrum from street food and fine dining, another trend exploded in the Bay Area in 2010: DIY food and urban homesteading.

One of the biggest evidences of the DIY food movement played out in blogs on a global scale: Tigress' Can Jam encouraged food bloggers everywhere to can a different ingredient every month, and hundreds took the bait, including San Franciscans Cam and Anita at Married ...with Dinner, Paige of Canning with Kids in the South Bay, and Marin-based award-winning jam maker Shae of Hitchhiking to Heaven.

FARMcurious sprang up to outfit DIY enthusiasts.
  • FARMcurious sprang up to outfit DIY enthusiasts.

Inspired by the likes of Oakland's Novella Carpenter (whose book, Farm City, came out in paperback in May 2010), scads of Bay Area residents took up animal husbandry in their homes. Chickens became all the rage; I can personally think of several friends who added coops to their backyards, including Gudrun of Kitchen Girl Cooks.

Of course this newfound interest created its own little economic bubble, and cottage industries popped up all around the bay. Nicole Kramer launched FARMcurious, a one-stop shop for all things homesteady, and Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper briefly brought beekeeping supplies to the heart of the Mission. Classes in everything from chutney to cheese making became abundant, at venues like 18 Reasons, Urban Kitchen SF, the Institute of Urban Homesteading, BioFuel Oasis, and Happy Girl Kitchen. There was a bumper crop of books from Bay Area writers: Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit released a hefty tome of jams and preserves; Vanessa Barrington taught us how to make everything D.I.Y. Delicious; and Karen Solomon got picked up for a sequel to her 2008 book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, due out in early 2011. Oh, and I launched Punk Domestics in July, with an aim to build a curated space for DIY-driven self-publishers everywhere.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

S.F. Will Soon Allow Urban Farms to Sell Produce. But Should They?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Little City Gardens' Brooke Budner. - EDIBLEOFFICE/FLICKR
  • edibleoffice/Flickr
  • Little City Gardens' Brooke Budner.
Our favorite morsel from the Web.

My colleague Jonathan Kauffman grilled Off the Grid's Matt Cohen recently about the hard-to-scale barriers for mobile food vendors to get permits in San Francisco.

Things are little better for urban farmers. In the New York Times today, Zusha Elinson tells the tale of Brooke Budner and Caitlyn Galloway, the Little City Gardens farmers who raised 20K on Kickstarter so they could find a bigger patch of land than the Inner Mission backyard they were cultivating. Budner and Galloway now have three-quarters of an acre in the Outer Mission, but here's where things start to stink worse than a decomposing rat in a compost bin: The city's creaky old zoning laws require them to spend thousands to obtain a conditional-use permit before they can sell anything they raise.

As it turns out, San Francisco was sympathetic. The city is rolling out new rules this fall, rules that will let small urban market gardens operate more easily. But while urban farming is a sort of centerpiece of the locavore movement, there are arguments to be made against use of city lots for food production. Elinson:

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's Happening at Hayes Valley Farm?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 4:25 PM

More than 2,500 volunteers have gotten dirty at Hayes Valley Farm. - HAYES VALLEY FARM/FLICKR
  • Hayes Valley Farm/Flickr
  • More than 2,500 volunteers have gotten dirty at Hayes Valley Farm.
To those of us who lived in Hayes Valley while Octavia was transforming from prostitution alley to boulevard, the chained-off lot between Oak and Fell held a peculiar romance. After a decade of neglect, the old Embarcadero Freeway on- and off-ramps had become a thicket of green, a place where you'd hear birdsong and spot wild fennel thrusting through the wires. No matter what kind of nonsense you suspected was taking place out of view, the lot was a welcome spot of wilderness in the heart of the city.

So the transformation of the block from postapocalyptic forest to farm ― Hayes Valley Farm ― made sense. But that didn't prepare those of us who loved the green hills to see them filled with people, with cardboard everywhere, browning ivy on the trees, and no sign of planters, raised beds, or tiny greens.

SFoodie has read about classes and movie nights at the farm, but hasn't read anything about actual vegetables. It took the news of the recent bee slaughter

to remind us it was time to check: What exactly was going on here? So, on the six-month anniversary of what the Hayes Valley Farm's organizers call "the

cutting of the locks," we took one of its public tours.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Trip Report: Peach Picking in Brentwood

Posted By on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 4:14 PM

Playing farmer, six feet off the ground. - JONATHAN K.
  • Jonathan K.
  • Playing farmer, six feet off the ground.
It doesn't take very long to pick ten pounds of nectarines. In fact, it takes more effort ― self-control, really ― to pick less.

I'd been meaning to go peach and nectarine picking in Brentwood again ever since a scalding afternoon in 2005 that culminated in one perfect nectarine, plucked from the tree and still warm from the sun. I ate the fruit with a vampirish abandon, bent slightly over the ground, my lips and chin and hand and forearm soon sticky with juice. 

So, on Saturday, some friends and I drove east again, using the Harvest Time in Brentwood map to hunt for open U-pick farms. We were fortunate ― the season should be almost over by now, one of the farmers told me, but the cold spring pushed it back.

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