All Things Grow

I’m going to go out on a limb and state for the record that Alemany Farm is the nicest patch of freeway-front land in the City.

Alemany Farm is in what I consider a strange part of town. It’s a little green nook behind Bernal Hill and not far from Glen Park — which doesn’t sound difficult to find, but it took us a more than a few tries to one recent Sunday afternoon.

Alemany has work days nearly every weekend (they alternate Saturdays and Sundays) where you can volunteer in the garden. As avid farmers market supporters, we liked the idea of getting our hands in our local soil and seeing what could be grown in the City limits.

It doesn’t look like much at first sight. But there’s a lot going on in this almost unnoticeable corner of the City.

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There were hives of honey bees up on the hill, a wetlands area around a pond, a space dedicated to California native plants, and a group was putting in an herb garden the day we arrived to help out.

And of course there’s also plenty of space for produce. There were rows of chard, kale, collard greens, and some abandoned heads of cabbage lolling about in the dirt. We walked past a mass of bushy plants only to realize they were a crop of fava beans (I can’t wait to harvest those!).

And there were strawberries (I helped weed this particular patch):

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Sitting in the dirt, weeding and planting, talking produce with our fellow volunteers while hawks circled overhead — it all seemed downright country. But for the endless roar of the freeway, the constant reminder that you are still squarely in the City.

But that’s the point of this space — to build a food source in the City, to put a little unruly corner of land to work rather than coating it with new condos.

If you feel like giving gardening a try, this is your new weekend hang-out. You don’t need any equipment, they’ll supply you with gloves and trowels. You also don’t need to know a thing about plants or gardening. Having never weeded before, I worried I would unknowingly uproot some rare plant, but no one worried about my work. In fact, they celebrated every effort we made and were grateful for whatever time we could offer.

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