Fire Escape Farms, a new pop up shop in the heart of the Mission District in San Francisco, offers everything you need to transform your urban space into a flourishing farm. The brainchild of Naya Peterson, the store, located in Triple Base Gallery from June to August, offers City folks specially curated seeds, locally handcrafted wares made from recycled and sustainable materials, books and tools, as well as local, organic soil, and amendments.

Peterson, who was born in the Mission, and grew up in the City, moved to Napa a few years back to help open Ritual Roasters in the Oxbow market and worked at White Rock Vineyards. She loved getting her hands in the dirt and started gardening in her North Bay backyard, which was filled with fruit trees and wild mustard. She later fell in love with a City boy and moved back to the Mission two years ago, but hankered for a way to remain connected to growing. Read more

Temra Costa is a sustainable food and farming advocate and author of Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat. Civil Eats will feature her profiles of some of America’s women farmers and food advocates over the coming weeks.

On the banks of the Sacramento River, farm crops are the beneficiaries of centuries of natural flooding that have added rich sediment to the soil’s fabric. The longest river within California, the Sacramento, stretches from Mount Shasta all the way down to the Delta, where it joins with the San Joaquin before splurging out into the Suisun Bay just north of the San Francisco. The story of the Sacramento is as rich as its soil as Native Americans traversed its banks long before Interstate 5 was put in. Read more

Many gardeners are currently pulling up plants and preparing beds for fall. They are laying parts of their garden to rest while their squash lay about, curing in the sun. Some gardeners are already turning their backs on their plots and projecting their green minds through winter and into next spring. But fall is not the time for complacency in the garden. It’s a great time to sneak in some late plantings of lettuce and greens—and it’s the ripest time of year to save some seeds. Read more

Scientific American recently published an article called How to Grow a Better Tomato: The Case against Heirloom Tomatoes. The author details how plant breeders are going about saving heirloom tomatoes from their own fatal flaws. The article was written in a combative tone with the author seemingly intent on provoking a knee-jerk reaction from lovers of good, real food not managed under laboratory conditions. It worked. Read more

The last couple sunny days have gotten me itching to buy seeds.  The skilled gardeners I know (of which I am decidedly not, having barely grown an herb garden that now looks like brittle sticks in dirt) have told me to get started with my highlighter and my catalogs – order before it gets to late and the best seeds are gone.  So I became a member of the Hudson Valley Seed Library ($20) and got ten complimentary packets of their heirlooms, most of which come from this area. Read more

My friend Josh, an organizer for Rainforest Action Network (get involved!), always tells me that without optimism we have no hope of changing the world. Maybe that seems obvious if you think about it, but it requires a fairly radical repositioning of my social-political framework which was born out of a punk rock anger at all the injustices of our world and a sort of despondency mixed with fear that it could never change. Now what kind of introduction to a food-related post is this? Well, it’s one that gets at the inspiration and hope I had listening to Billy Bragg say much the same thing as Josh last night at the Somerville Theatre. And in hearing it at that moment, I sat back and thought about all of the ways to find hope in the everyday and, somewhat strangely perhaps, realized that one thing I have been continually inspired to hope by this year is the current tomato trend. Read more