Victory Garden Watch: Day 1 | Civil Eats

Victory Garden Watch: Day 1

With the freezing summer fog whirling around us, Slow Food Nation Victory Garden Manager John Bela and his team began the installation of the city’s first edible garden in front of City Hall in 65 years. In true San Francisco style, the folks who practice their morning exercises on Civic Center plaza didn’t seemed fazed in the slightest, as a chain-link fence went up around them and the construction site. It was truly exciting to witness the groundbreaking of what could be one of the most important civic statements regarding the future of community food production. Radio and television crews came and went as tourists and locals wandered in and around the site, watching the sod cutters slice neat strips of lawn. John and his crew started pulling back the sod and lifting the heavy grass and dirt onto wheel barrows. Soon thereafter, West Portal residents Meredith and Bill Denny showed up and started loading free sod into their car. “We were going to go to Home Depot until we read the ad on craigslist for recycled sod,” Meredith said. “Now we’ll have City Hall lawn in our backyard.” An hour later, Scottsdale residents and Phoenix convivium members Steve Lewis and Carol Mills-Lewis arrived with their five-month-old grandson, Liam Whelan. Liam in tow, they spent several hours helping the crew dig up sod. Google Café sent over delicious sandwiches and will be generously donating lunch for the crew and volunteers for the next 10 days of garden installation. Stay tuned for more sod removal and landscape fabric installation.

Photo by Naomi Starkman: Steve Lewis & Carol Mills-Lewis with grandson Liam Whelan

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Thank you for being a loyal reader.

We rely on you. Become a member today to read unlimited stories.

Naomi Starkman is the founder and editor-in-chief of Civil Eats. She was a 2016 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford. Naomi has worked as a media consultant at Newsweek, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, WIRED, and Consumer Reports magazines. After graduating from law school, she served as the Deputy Executive Director of the City of San Francisco’s Ethics Commission. Naomi is an avid organic gardener, having worked on several farms.  Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

  1. Steve Lewis
    We were so pleased to be able to share and contribute in this tremendous program. Thank you for letting us volunteer.
    Carol, Liam and Steve

More from

Urban Agriculture


Snow Geese fly over Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo credit: Yiming Chen, Getty Images)

Bird Flu May Be Driven By This Overlooked Factor

In this week’s Field Report, we examine what happens when industrial animal operations encroach on wild waterfowl habitat, plus a new bill that supports wildlife on private lands, and gear that could protect farmworkers from avian flu.


Changing How We Farm Might Protect Wild Mammals—and Fight Climate Change

A red fox in a Connecticut farm field. (Photo credit: Robert Winkler, Getty Images)

Across Farm Country, Fertilizer Pollution Impacts Not Just Health, but Water Costs, Too

An Illinois farmer fertilizes a field before planting. (Photo credit: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

New School Meal Standards Could Put More Local Food on Students’ Lunch Trays

A student at Ashford Elementary School in Houston fills up on local food in his school lunch. (USDA Photo by Lance Cheung)

Should Bioplastics Be Allowed in Organic Compost?

A curbside green waste bin in San Francisco, California, collects compostable plates and packaging for use in organic compost. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)