Victory Garden Watch: Day 8 | Civil Eats

Victory Garden Watch: Day 8

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.

Bela studied drawing, performance and sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; plant biology and biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts; and landscape architecture and environmental design at U.C. Berkeley. He works with SF Victory Gardens 08+ to coordinate the backyard garden program and is designing the Victory Garden. He also works as a landscape designer with Conger Moss Guillard Landscape Architecture (CMG) and directs Rebar, an active open-source art collective. Bela’s family owns and operates a small biodynamic farm in rural Kentucky that produces a diverse abundance of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat for the farm’s CSA shareholders.

As John mindfully planned the activities for the day—building the Soap Box, adding seven more large circular planting beds, building the straw fence around the planting area-he brought out the tools needed for the day’s work as the first volunteers arrived to begin moving dirt under a very hot sun.

Bela was looking forward particularly to the Soap Box, designed by Scene2. Marcus Guillard and Chris Ray Collins worked with Bela on the bandshell in Golden Gate Park last year.

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Photos by Naomi Starkman
Photo 1: Curtis Ray and Marcus of Scene2 measuring the Soap Box
Photo 2: Russ Fernald

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Russ Fernald is a Slow Food Nation volunteer. Read more >

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