After 10 days of incredible action—sod removal, bed and ground preparation, installation of irrigation lines and fencing, the building of a fantastic soap box—the lawn in front of San Francisco’s City Hall was transformed into the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden. It was a perfect planting day as 150 volunteers helped moved nearly 4,000 plants into their new homes. Teams divided into zones with their leaders and peacefully planted lettuce, tomatoes, beans, herbs, flowers and so much more. Good thoughts and prayers (including those from the next-door religious meeting) were had by all. Together, we built a “garden of communities,” as Victory Garden Manager John Bela calls it. Bela and Willow Rosenthal, founder of City Slicker Farms, in West Oakland, where the seedlings were started, joined Slow Food Nation Executive Director Anya Fernald and Founder Alice Waters to welcome Mayor Gavin Newsom to the garden. Read more

As the founder of City Slicker Farms, a non-profit urban agriculture organization in West Oakland, my mission in life has been to bring “slow food” to the least served. Ten years ago as an aspiring farmer it didn’t seem exciting to me to grow more beautiful specialty vegetables for rich people. I didn’t think it was fair that good food was limited to those who could pay farmer’s market prices. At City Slicker Farms we have developed ways to subsidize the price of the organic foods we grow so that we can offer sliding-scale prices and free organic backyard gardens to those who lack funds. Read more

Another tremendous group of volunteers came out today to continue to make final installations for the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden. A huge thanks goes out to Carol Brewer, Linda Trunzo, Carter McRee, Monica Scott, Maximiliian Godino, Ashley Miller, Claire Kellerman (Maui Permaculture Network), Shilpa Kumar, Bill Mohler, Christine Choi, Crystal Choi, Crystal Garcia and Lyn Spataro. Read more

The bright orange sun poked up enough to reflect off the Civic Center as Victory Garden Manager John Bela walked into the emerging landscape to think about work for the day. The large and small circular beds give a hint of how people will walk among the plants, seeing up close how air, water and seeds collaborate to make food. John said that the transformation of this prime bit of real estate from grassy meeting area to vegetable garden has transformed him as well. “I can’t believe how much these wonderful, energetic volunteers have done in such a short time,” he said, as briefcase-carrying office employees strode purposefully past the garden, avoiding energetic exercising folks and others down on their luck. Read more

With four days left until the July 12 Community Planting Day, nearly 20 young adults from Friends of the Urban Forest’s (FUF) Youth Tree Care Program joined John Bela and 10 other volunteers to continue work on the garden. According to its web site, the Friends of the Urban Forest’s Youth Tree Care Program “trains economically disadvantaged youth in planting and tree care, encourages young people to engage with their communities and introduces them to careers in urban forestry.” Read more

It was a glorious day in San Francisco today—perfect weather for garden manager John Bela and his dedicated team of volunteers to charge full steam into the next phase of Victory Garden installation in front of City Hall. Today’s team of voluntary green thumbs included a large group from the Presidio Native Plant Nursery, as well as many passionate community members who chose to dedicate their free time to food and gardening. Read more