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Urban Farming

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hayes Valley Farm Beekeeper Mourns Slaughtered Colonies, Plots Next Steps

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Just a few of the hundreds of thousands of bees killed Monday night. - HAYES VALLEY FARM
  • Hayes Valley Farm
  • Just a few of the hundreds of thousands of bees killed Monday night.
It's a macabre, senseless story: Hayes Valley Farm, the year-old urban garden on the site of the old I-80 off-ramp, reported on its blog yesterday that someone had broken into the gardens on Monday night or Tuesday morning and sprayed pesticide into the three hives kept on site. Two mature colonies were annihilated and a third, smaller colony lost half its population. Beekeeper Karen Peteros wrote:
The thousands of bees that died immediately or rushed to the entrance for fresh air fell onto the screened bottom board and clogged up the entrance to the hive, making escape impossible for any of the other bees and turning each hive into a gas chamber.
SFoodie spoke to Peteros this morning about the slaughter and the future of bees at Hayes Valley Farm:

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Big Backyard? You Could Raise All Your Own Food, New Book Says

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 11:25 AM

The apocalypse is coming ― stock up on chickens.
  • The apocalypse is coming ― stock up on chickens.
Feed a family of four on a quarter- acre plot! Earn thousands in half the time a normal job would require!

But wait ― there's more, as the late Billy Mays might have said. Never farmed before? Don't know an udder from a ukulele? Can't tell compost from a camera? Fear not! Just buy a copy of Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, the brand-new book by Brett L. Markham, self-described advocate of a holistic approach to farming on a small, sustainable scale.

Pitchman tone aside, this book could be a brilliant resource for San Francisco's ever-swelling ranks of newbies hopping on the bale-strewn urban farming bandwagon. Even if your only prior experience is a field trip you took as an environmental science major at some leafy liberal arts institution back East, Markham's volume covers such key aspects of food production as starting seedlings, soil fertility practices, chicken-rearing, and canning.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

If Portland Has an Urban Wild Foods Database, Why Don't We?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Say you had a hankering for loquats: You'd know exactly where to score. - URBAN EDIBLES
  • Urban Edibles
  • Say you had a hankering for loquats: You'd know exactly where to score.
We long for a user-friendly online database to conveniently catalogue everything we like ― pick-up basketball runs, fishing holes, and soda fountains, to list a few ― and we're pleased to learn that, increasingly, what we want actually exists. Here's a food-world example San Franciscans might feel: When they're hard up for fresh figs, eager foragers in Portland, Ore., hop online and zip over to Urban Edibles, a Web project focused on collecting, mapping, and organizing the city's best sources for foraged edibles. From dandelion greens to patches of wild berries to plum trees with untapped bounties, the site reveals the lush array of produce a large city can provide its frugal and resourceful cooks. Along the way, it also reveals and enriches the community of foragers who enthusiastically write in to share their sources. Here in the Bay Area, "wild" dinners and foraging tours are becoming as common as cioppino, and this sounds like a concept in need of expansion. Any takers?

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SF Glean Harvests Unloved Fruit, Gives It to Those Who Need It

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Volunteer fruitistas harvesting the urban orchard. - SF GLEAN
  • SF Glean
  • Volunteer fruitistas harvesting the urban orchard.
Unlike pots set to boil, trees bear fruit even when they're being watched, and around these parts, when they do, the watchers at SF Glean swoop in like friendly pigeons of sustainability to clean up the excess.

SF Glean is a volunteer group dedicated to harvesting fruit and nuts from city trees (if necessary, with approval from the trees' owners) and donating the salvaged bushels and pecks to area nonprofits. If you're keen on participating, download the fliers, and join the Google group.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Urban Farm in the Mission Seeking Investors for Expansion

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 9:00 AM

The backyard farm near Dolores wants to expand to a quarter-acre plot. - LITTLE CITY GARDENS
  • Little City Gardens
  • The backyard farm near Dolores wants to expand to a quarter-acre plot.
Caitlyn Galloway and Brooke Budner of Little City Gardens are hoping to expand, but not like the Walmart you knew back home. A year ago, Galloway and Budner started an urban farm on a 1/16-acre backyard plot near Dolores Park. Since then, they've been selling herbs and salad and braising greens to restaurants and individuals, and teaching the curious about city farming. Now, in order to make the most out of their farming operation (with a goal of enriching what they call "the local, national, and global dialogue about growing food in cities"), the two intent to grow to a quarter-acre plot, and devote themselves full time to their greens-tending. To do that, they need ducats -- $15,000 to be precise, which they need to raise by May 4.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Urban Farmers Little City Gardens Planning a Move to a Bigger Plot

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM

The backyard garden produces as many as 25 varieties of herbs and salad greens. - LITTLE CITY GARDENS
  • Little City Gardens
  • The backyard garden produces as many as 25 varieties of herbs and salad greens.
Brooke Budner and Caitlyn Galloway are the guerrilla green thumbs behind Little City Gardens, a cherry tomato-sized urban farm in the Mission. Simultaneously a small salad mix business, a hub of food/community positivity, and what the farmers themselves call "a working model of food production in [the city]," Little City Gardens hooks up Bar Tartine and several local caterers with greens (delivered, quite awesomely, on foot and by bike), offers tours, conducts workshops, and generally keeps it as real as water, soil, sun, and fat, writhing earthworms.

Little City's CSA starts up again in spring. - LITTLE CITY GARDENS
  • Little City Gardens
  • Little City's CSA starts up again in spring.
Budner and Galloway are fixing to move their operation to more spacious digs in a few months -- stay tuned for details. In the meantime, get to Bar Tartine (561 Valencia at 16th St.) and try all 25 of the herbs and lettuces Little City grows, in one well-dressed heap. Once spring rolls around, you'll be able to buy into their CSA once more. For now, as winter rains run rivulets through our gray city, hop online and check out the Little City Gardens blog. Monday's entry (courtesy of Budner) on an idealistic vision of the state of farming and food in 2050 distills the urban farmers' mission much better than our paraphrasing. We'll leave you with a taste:
Farming is acknowledged widely as a creative art form. An art form that is guided by the efficiency of recycling resources, rather than the efficiency dictated by the market economy. Farmers are understood as designers who learn to observe ecosystems and to craft complementary agricultural techniques.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gardening Classes at Love Apple Farm, Source of Manresa's Veggie Magic

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Edible classroom: Love Apple Farm. - GREG @ FLICKR/FLICKR
For a few years now, Manresa, David Kinch's temple of vegetable voodoo in Los Gatos, has sourced nearly 80 percent of the plant matter it requires from the blissed-out biodynamic Love Apple Farm buried in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Each year, in addition to working hard to keep Manresa's veloutés, foams, and purées brimming with the sweet natural juices that have made them quite famous, farm owner Cynthia Sandberg offers an assortment of intriguing classes ― like beekeeping (Jan. 16), herb growing (Feb. 21), and nontoxic gopher control (May 2), for example. There's a long list here.

The farm may be an hour and a half from San Francisco, but the reasonably priced classes look worth the winding drive. The gopher trapping class looks particularly fun, though we doubt we need expert hunter Thomas Wittman's advice when it comes to policing our Mission District patio for vermin.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

You Could Totally Walk Away from Next Month's Fruit Fest with a Plumpeachicot

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Not the kind you drive: Fruit tree scions. - JOEYSPLANTING/FLICKR
  • joeysplanting/Flickr
  • Not the kind you drive: Fruit tree scions.
On Jan. 23, city folk will have an opportunity to gild their modest backyard orchards for pennies ― at most. That day, the annual California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) Redwood Chapter garden club scion and plant exchange is happening at the Veterans Building in Sebastopol (282 High at Willow). Founded in 1968, the CRFG is the largest amateur fruit-growing organization in the world. Over 500 varieties of common and rare plants from all over the globe will be available for free at this event. Beginners can sit in on grafting and planting demonstration classes and lob questions at resident experts and seasoned hobbyists ― some of whom will be happy to create impromptu custom trees for attendees in exchange for small supplemental donations. With a little aid, you could walk away with your very own mutant FujiGalaGrannyDelicious sapling ― quite the conversation piece, we're sure. Nonmembers can arrive at 10 a.m.; chapter members get a 60-minute head start. Both should bring a requested $5 donation ― to help pay for the facility rental and insurance.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Need a Pear Tree to Go with That Partridge? We Found Some on Craigslist

Posted By on Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 1:12 PM

Watch out for axe-wielding Santas. - TALIA THE AMAZING/FLICKR
  • talia the AMAZING/Flickr
  • Watch out for axe-wielding Santas.
Somewhere on Craigslist there is a partridge for sale. If you'd like to find a pear tree to go with it, look no further than Wiersig Garden Plants in Los Altos. The nursery is currently offering numerous varieties of deciduous fruit trees -- dwarves, semi-dwarves, and multigrafts, including Granny Smiths, Pixiecot apricots, Garden Delight nectarines, Green Gage plums, Sharp Velvet pomegranates, and Hood and Flordahome pears -- at peanut prices. Prices for the 5- to 6-foot tall specimens range from $35 to $65. No telling what that partridge will set you back.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Craigslist Farm and Garden Classifieds: Growing Your Own T-Bone from Scratch

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 10:43 AM

All you need is patience -- and a big-ass freezer.
  • All you need is patience -- and a big-ass freezer.
The drawbacks of DIY cattle ranching obviously start with space. A chicken coop is one thing, but legit pasture on a San Francisco lot is rare -- unless you're as rich as Robin Williams or something. We're just guessing, but if enjoying grass-fed steak is your thing and shoveling manure is not, you might want to look into forging a relationship with Stone House Ranch in Mill Valley.

According to yesterday's Craigslist posting, the ranch is selling 500-800 pound steers (they usually runclose to $1 per pound) and then charging board for six to nine months until slaughter. Next fall, customers can cash in on the investment. If you don't have a spit that big for impromptu roasting, or a freezer large enough to store the cuts, consider going in on one with some mates. Think of the cookouts you'll have -- this time next year.

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