The munchkin’s school snacks and lunches come from Chefables, an area business whose sole focus is to provide fresh, local, mostly organic food to preschools. They announced a tour of a local farm, which to our amazement was in our neighborhood. For those who haven’t been reading closely, I live in San Francisco. In the city. Four miles from City Hall, as the crow flies. I had no clue there was a farm within a few blocks.
But there is, so we walked over, an easy 15-minute walk that would have been even easier, except that to avoid walking 50 yards from the freeway we took a route that led straight up a steep hill and then down again, which also took us through a housing project that I’d had only the vaguest idea was there. (Munchkin’s reaction: “Can we come play on this playground?” The project did have a lot of playgrounds. The one that grabbed her attention needs some maintenance, though.) And there we were at Alemany Farm. It’s only 4.5 acres, a great big garden you might say, but what a garden!
Kids from our school and others were there. They got to pull up carrots and eat them–the munchkin happily harvested her favorite veggie, but declined to eat any, for reasons we didn’t learn; pull up beets; learn the right way to pick strawberries (the munchkin did eat her strawberry and said it was delicious); play a Simon Says game that involved acting out sun, water, air, and soil; and eat pizza made right there, along with a salad harvested at the farm a couple of hours earlier. A wall of passionflowers caught my attention, and one of the Friends of Alemany Farm picked one for Munchkin. I learned that broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, etc. are not only closely related, as I’d thought; they are the exact same plant, same genus, same species. They’ve just been cultivated in different directions.
The farm has an interesting history. It used to be part of the city park that adjoins it, known to our family mostly for its terrific playground (you may notice a pattern here). Later, it was run by the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, whose terrific acronym, SLUG, is now tainted by scandal after its managers coerced workers, who were part of a city-funded job training program, into campaigning for Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris for citywide office, or else lose their pay (neither Newsom, who’s now Lieutenant Governor, nor Harris, who’s now Attorney General, were charged with corruption). SLUG was barred from city contracts, so the farm sat unused for two years, until the Friends of Alemany Farm formed. They have volunteer work days every weekend, and Munchkin and I plan to join one soon. Joy, who has a better recent gardening history than I do but has no desire to do more, has offered to bring the volunteers food.
After the tour and lunch, we invited a school friend back to the house, where I went on a gardening binge and the girls played outside.