We’re happy to announce another garden in the Mission!!
As word begins to spread about and what we are trying to do, Mission residents are hopping on board. On Monday we officially gained generous access to another garden. Although small we’re confident that we’ll be able to make a great use of this space. In addition to being generally beautiful it already has some apple trees that can be restored to health. The residents were excited and eager to support us and participate with our project. We share their enthusiasm and they have our deepest gratitude for their generosity.
Early next week we’ll start in on transforming this space into a super garden. First we’ll be taking a stab at the sod to get at the earth below. It is good for us that it is mostly dead. This should make removal a bit easier. After we get down and dirty with the sod, we’ll have to send away that soil to ensure that it is healthy to grow in. After that I’d like to invest in some perennial herbs to start planting back there so they get a good head start for spring. In the mean time, I’ll be drawing up some plans of what the space might end up looking like. My initial guess is that it will be a good space for growing peppers, squash and tomatoes in summer. Next week I should be able to post more pics of our progress.
Fungus among us:
It seems that we’ve got some fungal friends popping up at our other garden. The combination of the recent rains and the full shade we’ve been getting back there has encouraged some growth of some pretty great looking mushrooms that look to me like they might be Agaricus Californicus. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera on me when I discovered them so I don’t have a photo. If in fact they are Agaricus Californicus they are mildly poisonous and should not be eaten. However, the good news is that it seems as though the garden will be a great habitat for some cultivated culinary mushrooms. I plan to experiment with oyster and shitake mushrooms back there in the coming weeks. We’ll keep you updated as to how that pans out.
Link of the week:
The local foods wheel is a really creative way to have consumers be conscious of what they are eating. It is 12″ illustrated cardboard chart that informs Bay Area eaters what is in season when. I think this is a great idea. It is a really creative way to teach people to alter their palates with regards to seasonality. Eating seasonally has many benefits that we know of not to mention many that, I am sure, await discovery. Stay local, stay seasonal with the local foods wheel. Check it out.
After working out the plans for the garden and ordering the seed, the search was on for how to make the garden fit the design we had made, and on the cheap. Thanks to Internet posts and classified ad. sites like craigslist, finding used, salvaged, cheap or free items is easier than it has ever been. For a small scale development project like this, a site like craigslist can provide almost anything you need to fit your budget provided you have the time to go around and get it. So far we’ve been able to balance our time and the resources provided to us to search around the web for deals. I found a yard sale post for some pre-owned flagstone about an hour south in San Jose. I was lucky enough to able to borrow Pete’s van to go down and grab it with Omar, a coworker of mine at Boogaloos. The downside to searching high and low for bargains is that one may end up wasting a great deal of time searching for the perfect fit at the loss of productive work hours at the site. When first arriving at the “yard sale” I was skeptical that we’d driven all the way down there for nothing. The seller was unable to provide a great description over the phone. I really didn’t know what to expect. I suppose I half expected a pile of stone ready for hauling, but when we arrived it was something slightly different. The stones were still embedded in the ground around her yard forming a rough pathway to her porch. But, they were “for sale”, so away we dug. Scraping away clumps of mud slugs and ants from the undersides of the flagstone added an interesting twist to the purchase. With the help of the seller’s neighbor (she wasn’t even there- we only talked by phone) we piled the stones in the van and named our price. $70 for the load (about a half pallet in all) seemed like a good enough deal. They were thick stones that looked as though they would clean up well. There looked as though there were enough small ones to fill out the plans I had drawn. Stone yards and landscaping centers charge ¢.15 to ¢.50 per pound for flagstone. Our plundering saved us a good deal of cash. Not to mention that they were nicely worn unique pieces of stone. Once laid out and cleaned, the stones looked great and were perfect for the design we’d thought up. For $70 or $80 dollars and a 4 hours, we now had a finished pathway and mini-patio that made for easy access beds and a garden worth looking at. Beds made, its is time for some planting.
If you’ve been to San Francisco in the last 5 years, chances are good that you’ve been to the Mission District. Over the past 10 years the Sunny Mission district has undergone huge changes that have made it a burgeoning hot spot for city tourists and locals alike. The Mission is increasingly becoming the freshest reference point for popular and alternative youth culture, music, art, and cuisine. And, with the growth of the district in full effect, some of the cornerstone businesses responsible for that growth are starting to ask “how do we do this consciously”? After all, in an age where energy and resources are at a premium, these questions are becoming not only imperative to ask, but also imperative to answer. Amyitis gardens are a response that we came up with to start to think outside of the box truck.
The ideas of city farming and urban gardening for a restaurants are by no means new ideas. It is not uncommon for high-end food establishments to source locally or even from there own gardens. Urban restaurant gardens are sprouting up here in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland as well as places like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The High-end pioneers of this gardening movement have created a necessary awareness of the need for this type of food reform but the next frontier is making it accessible and affordable for owners and patrons alike. In cities, clean gardening space that can produce enough for a restaurant is often at a premium. Amyitis is being created from the lucky confluence of the ability, space, and resources to make something like this happen and, with any luck, make it affordable.
Owners of Boogaloos Restaurant (22ND and Valencia) Phillip Bellber and Carolyn Blair entrusted the use of the back yard one of their residential properties for the creation of Amyitis to me (David Stockhausen) and my partner Jessie Alberts. In cooperation with the buildings tenants, the relatively unused back yard space underwent the 1st phase of transformation to becoming a food producing garden. After having the dry lifeless soil tested for harmful pathogens or heavy metals we began rehabbing the soil and drawing up a plan. We first had to remove a lot of volunteer blackberries and Bermuda grass from the yard. The tenants had already removed a dead tree from the center of the yard and a days work from Phillip’s son Sam got a lot of the bulk of the weeds out. Once a lot of the weeds and invasive grasses had been extracted we the had to break up the hard packed soil with a pick axe and hoe before we brought in the roto-tiller. Next (sorry neighbors for the smell) we brought in a couple yards of loam and blood meal fertilizer to begin to bring life to the soil.
It was a bit late by the time we had found out about the space. I had been talking at the restaurant about my background as an organic farmer in Vermont ad-nauseum for the past year and a half after I moved to San Francisco. Unaware that Phillip and Carolyn had the space, I would often push for us at Boogaloos to get a little greener and source things more consciously. One day late in May of 2008 A bell went off for Phillip I suppose, and he offered me the space. Jessie having been a farmer herself (and now working across the street in a neighboring cafe) I naturally insisted upon her involvement with the project. Phillip’s excitement and enthusiasm was welcomed and was the right push to get us moving right away. With the peak growing season in California midway through already, starting a garden this late in the season considerably limited the variety what we ideally wanted to plant. We decided to stick to small baby greens such as baby salad, arugula, radish, kale and chard and some yellow squash, haricot beans, and specialty scallions for a start. Leafy greens are a good way to get started. They grow relatively quickly and produce a lot because you don’t have to harvest the whole plant. With successive plantings we speculated we could get a consistent flow of good greens throughout the fall and winter seasons here in San Francisco. With seeds ordered it was time to start building beds.