Spring 2021
Summer programs are right around the corner and registration will be open for SFUSD students through the city's Summer Together Program in April. With our younger community members in mind, we are taking a look at some of the great work our staff and youth community partners have done this past year. Make sure to check out the garden tips from the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners and upcoming plant sales and workshops.
Youth Spotlight: Gardening for Good
Na'im Pierce, a high school senior, approached the Community Gardens Program with a unique proposal last year. He wanted to grow fresh produce for Bayview residents and we had a garden that needed some renewed interest and energy. We connected Na'im with Adam Rogers Park Community Garden and he literally dug right in.
Na'im, facing the camera, builds a new garden plot at Adam Rogers Park Community Garden.
Fresh soil and new seedlings - just add sunlight and water.
A first crop is ready for harvest.
Delivery time!
What inspired you to apply for a Youth Empowerment Grant?
I had received a YEF grant to help fund my high school's Black Student Union last year and was familiar with the process. I received so much support through the youth led advocacy program with that project and they encouraged me to apply again for this project.

What were you hoping to accomplish with your project, Bayview Backyardigans?
I wanted to create a community and self-sustaining garden that would provide healthy produce for the community's residents, due to the lack of grocery store availability in the area.

You inspired a lot of people to join you. How did you gather support and who else is involved?
I've received a lot of support from residents who live near the garden, especially Carla Duke. I've also received much support from my family, friends, teachers
and counselors, and the Community Gardens Program staff. The grant allowed me to provide jobs for other youth including members of the San Francisco Citywide Black Student Union and other youth that I have known since preschool. The grant budget provided safety equipment like work boots and gloves, as well as tools to get us all started.

As new gardeners, Bayview Backyardigans were able to grow nearly 300 pounds of food that you gave to hungry San Franciscans. How did you benefit from this experience?
I've learned a few things:

  • If you stick to something, no matter how hard it may seem to reach your destination, you will eventually reach your goal.
  • There will always be people supporting you and your actions may inspire others.
  • Although it takes effort, starting a garden and growing your own food is not as complicated as it may seem.

Your team helped revitalize this garden space. Tell us what you have accomplished and what's coming next for the garden.

When I first arrived there were a few beds with vegetables growing in them, but most of the beds were empty. The greenhouse was damaged and needed to be cleaned up. We have built new beds, added soil to some of the existing beds, and planted a lot of seedlings. I'm also glad that I've been growing enough food to give to members of the community and a soup kitchen down the street, as well as collaborating with other garden members in starting projects such as adding an herb garden, a vineyard, and hopefully, aquaponics in the future. I've also been able to form a connection with the community. I've received donations of items to help our work and formed connections with the people and organizations where we donate food.
What does the future hold for you?
It ultimately depends on where I go to college, but if I go out of state or far from home, I plan on helping in any way possible such as applying for grants and planning projects. But if I stay close, I can do all that and work in the garden in person.

Thank you Na'im! You are a true community leader. Rec & Park and your neighbors extend our warmest gratitude for your efforts.

Follow @bayviewbackyardigans on Instagram to see more of Na'im's team in action.
If you know of youth with great ideas to help their community, encourage them to look into a San Francisco Youth Empowerment Fund Grant. For more information, visit Urban Services YMCA.
Youth Spotlight: Cultivating an Environmentalist
Over the past 60 years the Workreation Program has provided San Francisco youth, ages 14 -17, with early work experience in our parks. Piya Rao attended RPD's summer camps when she was younger and joined our Urban Farm Camp team as a Workreation camp assistant two years ago. Piya set up materials and tools, lead games and activities, and helped campers build new friendships and resolve conflicts. She has been an outstanding role model for our younger campers and an invaluable support to the entire Community Gardens team.
Piya working in the native plant garden at Millwright's Cottage - her personal hori-hori at the ready.
Piya (yellow shirt) is teaching campers how to plant row crops. When ready, this squash will be shared with San Franciscans experiencing food insecurity.
By Piya Rao

In a time where the majority of people are stuck behind computer screens and the confines of four walls, nature beckons. I hope my experiences will excite and encourage other youth to discover or rediscover their love of plants.

Working as a camp assistant at Alemany Farm has been one of the most gratifying, valuable, and fun experiences. Being on the largest urban farm in SF every day, surrounded by skilled farmers, you pick up a thing or two. I have developed an incredible number of new skills ranging from pickling and fruit tree pruning, to composting, no-till farming and propagation. I’ve always loved gardening but Alemany Farm and the Workreation program brought out my green thumb and my curiosity. I have also become more confident in engaging with children and their guardians through my involvement with Urban Farm Camp.

A vital lesson I learned while working at Alemany Farm is the importance of food security and making sure that all San Franciscans have access to fresh, healthy, and delicious food. Growing up, I never had to worry when my next meal was. I had access to a wide range of fruits and vegetables. On the farm, I was forced to confront this issue head-on. With every oxalis I weeded, zucchini I planted, and camper I educated, I was working to address this growing concern. Besides providing a free and beautiful green space for all San Franciscans to visit, everything grown on Alemany Farm is shared with people in need. It is a beacon of hope to the surrounding community and assurance that their futures and health matter.

I also volunteer each week at Murphy’s Windmill in Golden Gate Park where I weed, water, mulch, and clean a small native plant garden. These underappreciated flora are invaluable to the local ecosystem: preventing erosion, acting as habitats for native wildlife, and serving as food for pollinators. Every time I pick up my hori-hori, I am helping to make San Francisco greener for all its inhabitants and visitors. 
Thank you Piya! We appreciate all of your contributions, your bright smile, and your commitment to our city and its youth.
SFRPD hires approximately 150 teens each year to work in our day camps, rec centers and parks, providing a fun and rewarding first work experience for teens ages 14-17. Youth camp assistants for this year have been hired. Bookmark this link for next year: SFRPD Youth Employment Programs.

To register your child for Urban Farm Camp visit Summer Together. Campers will start and end their day at St. Mary's Rec Center but spend the majority of their time at Alemany Farm where they will discover how the farm supports food security, explore concepts of environmental stewardship, and participate in all kinds of urban agriculture practices. Campers will have lots of opportunities to cook, craft and play, as well plant, weed, water and harvest on the farm.
Youth Spotlight: Betty Ann Ong Rec Center
While schools have been closed, Betty Ann Ong Rec Center has become a Community Hub where children get support for their online learning, hang out with their peers, and . . . grow some fresh veggies! Community Gardens Program staff designed and built special mobile garden boxes for the children to learn how to grow vegetables. For several weeks, they moved the boxes to follow the sun, watered, and waited for their seeds to sprout. Meanwhile, they explored worms and built vermicomposting boxes, were introduced to new fruits and vegetables, learned how to propagate from cuttings, played pollinator games and made plant part spring rolls. Yum! And, in an ode to 2020, they even made homemade hand sanitizer using aloe we grew at Alemany Farm.
Checking on the garden box - salad greens, kale and radishes to eat!
Planting mini desk gardens in petri dishes.
Distributing proboscises for a pollinator game - collect the most nectar and win! Fresh honeycomb was the prize.
Upcoming Events
Dia de Los Ninos/Dia De Los Libros:
An Online Festival for Young Readers
The San Francisco Public Library wants to celebrate Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros with you on Sunday April 25th! Queremos celebrar contigo! 
The San Francisco Public Library and its branches have gathered stories, music, activities and adventures from special people and special places all around San Francisco, including our own Alemany Farm! Sing and dance along with The Lucky Band! Read along with Park Rangers! Say "hi" and enjoy special visits with friends along the way.
This Día, connect with nature, connect with learning, connect with joy. Learn more
Hay cuentos, música, actividades y aventuras con personas y lugares especiales en San Francisco. Canta y baila con The Lucky Band. Lee con los guardaparques. Saludamos a amistades en el camino.   

Este día nos conectamos con la naturaleza, el aprendizaje y alegría. Más información

Friends of Alemany Farm (FoAF) is hosting several virtual workshops to help with your spring garden planning, use herbs in your skin care routine, and to learn about the history of farming in the city. Visit their website for more details and registration: FoAF Workshops

Garden for the Environment (GFE) is also offering several virtual workshops this year with topics that include composting, caring for urban chickens, and growing windowsill herbs. Some classes are free while others are fee based with a sliding scale. Check out their courses here: GFE Workshops
Plant Sale

Support Alemany Farm and get some new plants for your garden!

Friends of Alemany Farm will be holding two donation based plant sales at the farm: Saturday, April 17 and Saturday April 24 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. (700 Alemany Blvd.) 

Get your spring veggies starts!
Gardening Tips from your
UCCE San Francisco Master Gardeners

The UCCE Master Gardeners have yet another wonderful tool for gardeners: a library of herb and vegetable varieties to plant in spring that do well in San Mateo and San Francisco County micro-climates. Plants are organized by type and each unique variety has a photo, detailed description and information on planting zones, sun exposure, water requirements and days to maturity. No library card needed! Explore the Spring Edibles Plant Library
In the Garden: April - June 
  • Plant seedling edibles like lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, zucchini and berries. Sow bean, corn, cucumber, melon, and winter squash seeds directly into the ground. Consider a soaker hose to conserve water in your vegetable garden.
  • Transplant tomato starts: Pinch off all but the top two pairs of leaves and set the seedling into a deep hole. Backfill, keeping the top leaves above soil.
  • Work your cover crops into the soil before they seed.
  • Start planting summer annual flowers like lobelia, begonia, marigolds, cosmos, petunias, snapdragon and alyssum.
  • Plant gladiolus, dahlias & lilies for summer blooms.

  • Plant late summer edibles such as pumpkins, squash, sunflowers, peppers, basil and melon starts.
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs after bloom is past.
  • Let self-seeding annuals go to seed instead of deadheading. New seedlings will appear for another crop of summer flowers.
  • Keep your strawberry crop clean by removing spreading rhizomes and applying mulch around the plants, lifting the flowers and leaves above the mulch. This will also reduce watering need, cut down on weeds and improve fruit set.
  • Harvest radishes when the crown begins to show above the soil. Avoid “split” radishes by going easy on the watering.
  • If you've planted new potatoes, dig them as soon as the plants begin to bloom. Start by gently bringing up the soil with a pitchfork about a foot away from the plant; separate out the tubers by hand. (Allow storage potatoes to grow until the fall when the foliage begins to die back.)

  • This is a good time to plant beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins (start now for Halloween), summer squash, and tomatoes. These warm-season plants need lots of irrigation. Take this into consideration and plant only as many as you need and can water consistently all summer.
  • Feed tomato plants with a low-nitrogen fertilizer when the fruit starts to develop; too much nitrogen encourages more foliage, less fruit and can cause blossom end rot. Mulch the tomato plants to conserve moisture.
Happy Gardening!