The Victory Garden is Planted! | Civil Eats

The Victory Garden is Planted!

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.

The Mayor and Alice planted lettuce together in the garden and each spoke of the need for a sustainable food system, with the Victory Garden being just the first step to creating a national goal of making fresh, local food available to everyone. With an emphasis on good food being a universal birthright, they championed the myriad individuals, organizations and City departments involved in making the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden possible, and called for continued leadership and stewardship for such programs.

The day was glorious in its simplicity: take an urban plot of land and make it green. Meet your neighbor and do good. Grow food for people in need. These are all part of the vision and mission of Slow Food Nation to bring good, clean and fair food to all. Come join us this summer at the Victory Garden and at Slow Food Nation.

We are extremely grateful to our partners on this project:

Garden for the Environment’s Victory Gardens 2008+ Program, CMG Landscape Architecture, City Slicker Farms and Seeds of Change;

The Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Recreation and Parks and Norcal Waste Management;

Lyngso Garden Materials, Earth Savers, Bountiful Gardens, Cole Hardware and Demeter USA;

Food & Water Watch, the Presidio Native Plant Nursery, The Presidio Trust, Alemany Farm, Friends of the Urban Forest, Ploughshares Nursery, the Urban Permaculture Guild and the San Francisco Food Bank;

S.F. Beautiful and New Resource Bank;

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Katrina Heron, our Board Chair, who has shown enormous leadership – and was the first to have vision of creating the Victory Garden in Civic Center plaza;

Whole Foods Market, lead partner of the Victory Garden, which provided us with a delicious Victory Garden planting breakfast;

Bon Appetite Management Company, which prepared an outstanding and beautiful lunch for nearly 200 people on Civic Center plaza, and whose Google Café prepared lunch for hundreds of volunteers over the 10 day installation period;

Sunset Magazine, lead Media Partner of the Victory Garden;

And last, but not at all least, the countless hours spent by volunteers, including Slow Food Nation staff, on creating a vital, living and breathing garden in the center of San Francisco.

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Photos by Scott Chernis

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 >

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Join the conversation.

  1. Zack Sober
    How do I get tickets to see Ozomatli? I am unable to understand the website, but I want to listen to some great Ozomatli music.
  2. Hi Zack,
    Please visit to order tickets directly.
  3. Congratulations on the completion of your wonderful work! Could you please tell me what those raised beds are made of? Being in St. Louis makes it difficult for me to visit at this time! I build raised beds out of lumber, but would like to try other options. Thanks for any information you can provide! Keep up the fantastic work!!
  4. Congrats! Great for those of us who can't make it out to SF to watch this unfold online.
  5. The raised beds are made of rice straw wattle, generously donated by Earth Saver:
  6. Diane
    So awesome! I have been following this story, and it's great to see some pics. I hope people here in the eastern U.S. will begin catching on more quickly. Things are always a little slow to get here...

    I have started a social network for Victory Gardeners and those who want to be. I hope you'll check it out at
  7. Linda
    I watched a report of this on Victory Gardens on my local PBS station. The camera focused for a moment of the backs of two people wearing t-shirts that featured the outline of a colonial farmer next to the Statue of Liberty. Between the two images was a "equals" sign.
    Does anyone know where to find this shirt???
    Many thanks!
  8. Scott
    Great Job!!! I would like to add a couple of cents worth or better yet peel another lay er from that "onion" to get at the core of the matter. This article mentions -

    "With an emphasis on good food being a UNIVERSAL BIRTHRIGHT, they championed the myriad individuals, organizations and City departments involved in making the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden possible, and called for continued leadership and stewardship for such programs."

    When we peel the next layer we see that Land is the Universal Birthright. Only through Universal Birthrights in Land may we all grow that GOOD, HEALTHY ORGANIC FOOD ourselves.



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