Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Paint the City in Green
From renowned gardens like the Japanese Tea Garden and The San Francisco Botanical Garden to humble backyard plantings, gardens have a long and influential history in San Francisco. One of the most inspiring aspects of the city’s botanical history is the legacy of Victory gardens in San Francisco.
Jesse Drew writes about the significance of these gardens in his article Call Any Vegetable: The Politics of Food in San Francisco in the Reclaiming San Francisco anthology by City Lights Books. According to Drew, “World War II caused a momentary lapse in corporate food production for the consumer market, leading to the popularization of Victory gardens, small home vegetable plots intended to aid the war effort. In San Francisco alone, there were as many a 70,000 such home gardens.” Drew illustrates in his article that the Victory gardens were just one integral piece of a long-term sustainable food production movement in the Bay Area that continues to this day.
After the war, the popularity of these gardens diminished. But, the appetite for organic and locally grown produce has sustained. Drew writes, “San Francisco takes its food seriously. After all, this is the city that has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States. In the quest for nutritious food and equitable distribution, thousands of San Franciscans have mobilized to develop creative and alternative ways of procuring this most basic human need.”
One San Francisco Artist/Activist believes that Victory gardens are an alternative we she seriously reconsider. Amy Franceschini, is the winner of the (SFMOMA) San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 2006 (SECA) Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art, for her garden renewal project, which is on view at the SFMOMA until April 22.
In a recent article on SFGate.com, Franceshini talked about her idea of reinstating the thousands of private and public Victory gardens that were once found in the city. Franceshini added, “that 8 billion tons of food were produced in Victory gardens around the country.” In San Francisco, Victory Gardens were such a success they were even found in places like the front lawn of City Hall and the Strybing Arboretum.
Franceshini is not alone in her quest. Recently, in an unused plot next to the apartment complex on the corner of Stanyan and Fulton Street, residents and citizens have reclaimed the dirt and planted a Victory garden. The 20 by 90ft. plot, has potatoes, fava beans, snap peas, garlic, mustard greens, strawberries, and more. According to the SFGate.com article, “All the open space in San Francisco, including backyards, amounts to a sizable 1,823 acres.” This is one less backyard Franceshini has to worry about.