After working on the story,
A London Kitchen Vision, we were both heartbroken over the
senseless bulldozing of the treasure that was Manor Garden
Allotments. When Richard Reynolds' book on Guerrilla Gardening
came through the office, we saw the perfect opportunity to
counterbalance the graying of a green space in London with
the greening of a gray space in San Francisco.
We looked to Richard Reynolds' website which includes a
12-step Guerrilla Gardening plan and plentiful resources
to get started. We then enlisted the help of the local gardening
gurus at Flora Grubb nursery for some greens to beautify
San Francisco's Mission District. Jim at Flora Grubb whisked
us around the nursery guiding us towards plants that would
put up a fight to survive on the streets of San Francisco.
With a flat full of blooming life ready to plant, all we
had to do was find the perfect home for them. A home that
was in need of some green.
Eloise lives in The Mission-- a
predominately Hispanic neighborhood in south San Francisco.
It is vibrantly alive with taquerias, panaderias, and stores
selling everything from kiddie pools to fluffy quinceria
dresses. It's also rapidly becoming "The
Place" to live for hip, young 20-something students
and artists. The neighborhood certainly has lots going on
around the clock, but it's a far cry from the prettiest part
of the city.
Walking around one night, we found more potential guerrilla
gardening sites than we could revitalize in one go. We finally
found the perfect spot on the busy corner of San Jose and
29th. When we started, the site was a barren patch of dust,
weeds, and trash surrounding a little tree struggling for
life. We had our work cut out for us.
At 10:30 pm, the perfect hour for
guerrilla gardening in our opinion, we started clearing
out debris, rocks (LOTS), and dusty soil. A cop car passed
within five minutes of our arrival, and we thought we were
headed for the slammer. Instead, they just asked us to
move our car a little when we had a minute ("No rush!").
As the night wore on, plenty of passerbys stopped to inquire
about our project, thank us for our contribution to the
neighborhood, and generally chat. Some even offered to
lend a hand or to help water it in the future. A few people
even knew what we were doing and cheered us on with shouts
of "Go, Guerrilla Gardeners!
You rock!" We felt pretty cool.
After the dust settled, we added some new, fertile soil and
planted our array of greenery around the tree. A local restaurant
graciously filled our watering cans so we could give the
plot a good drink. It was 12:30 when we stood back to survey
our work. It looked beautiful. We felt proud.
As we drove away, we marvelled at how
simple and fun it was to make an impact in our community.
We had spent 2 hours, gotten a little dirty, and engaged
with our neighbors and the city in a meaningful way. The
seed had definitely been planted; we were now converted to
the gospel of Guerrilla Gardening: anyone can reclaim fallow
public land and make it beautiful. We are currently conspiring
with our friends to rescue some more desolate plots of land
in the future. We hope you're inpsired to get your hands
Organization dedicated to beautifying the city and working
to promote relations between the public, city and neighborhood
Fillmore Street Gardeners
Blog of SF Locals planting flowers in the Fillmore Street/Lower
Garden for the Environment
Garden Center in SF that conducts education seminars on organic
gardening, urban composting, as well as low-water-use gardens.
Flora Grubb Gardens
San Francisco's only urban farm promoting community, organic
food, and economic and environmental justice