SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announces the opening of the Geneva Community Garden today. The 10,427-square-foot community garden, located at Geneva and Delano Ave, is the 40th addition to the Department’s citywide community garden program. Last spring, the Department opened In Chan Kaajal at 17th and Folsom — the 39th garden in the system. Meanwhile, there are still over 1,000 San Francisco residents on the waitlist hoping to be a part of the Department’s Community Garden Program across the City. The Geneva Community Garden Grand Opening is scheduled for 10:00AM on Saturday, February 24th and will feature an inaugural tree planting, raffles and potluck lunch.
“We want to encourage San Franciscans to spend more time in nature because we have learned that in doing so our physical and mental health significantly improves,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec & Park General Manager. “Our Department is proud to lead our citywide Urban Agriculture Program, and in concert with the communities, make edible gardens a place where residents can grow food in a fun and sustainable way. Neighborhood gardens like the Geneva Community Garden encourage green space stewardship and foster a community bond.”
There are many benefits to community gardens, including a recent study that looks at “ecosystem services” associated with urban agriculture, including reduction of the urban heat-island effect, avoided storm water runoff, nitrogen fixation, pest control, and energy savings. San Francisco is leading the urban agriculture movement by recognizing the value of community gardens as recreational and green spaces.
In 2008, Cayuga Terrace and Outer Mission communities already had the vision that they would benefit from having a community garden at the Geneva Ave plot because growing produce for home consumption would help defray grocery costs, a particularly significant consideration for low-income families in their communities.
The $1.6 million Geneva Community Garden project converted an undeveloped, overgrown open space into a 60-plot garden for the community. The capital improvement project was funded by the 2008 Parks Bond, which was approved by more than 71% of San Francisco voters.
In addition to the Parks Bond, the community-driven project was supported by State Housing Related Parks Program Grants, the Open Space Fund, and additional City General Fund provided by former District 11 Supervisor John Avalos. Other community stakeholders include District 11 Council, New Mission Terrace Improvement Association, Cayuga Improvement Association, Friends and Advocates of Crocker Amazon and the Excelsior (F.A.C.E.), and Martha Arnaud, who submitted the project application for the Community Opportunity Fund.
“This is an opportunity to teach the practice of healthy organic gardening as a recreational activity and to build community at the same time,” said Community Opportunity Fund (COF) Applicant Martha Arnaud. “I would like to thank our community, Rec and Park staff, and everyone else who came together to create this beautiful garden, and I look forward to watching it grow.”
The new garden features raised garden boxes with space for 60 garden plots, including nine planter boxes that are in compliance with the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Additional components include perimeter walls, fencing, gates, standard park identification sign, seating, gathering areas, and ADA-accessible common areas such as the herb garden and orchard space with plum, apple and lemon trees planted. As part of an introductory community-building activity, volunteers with plot assignments planted native and pollinator plants along the new perimeter walls and primary entrance at Delano Avenue to attract pollinators to the garden. In addition, the Department invested funding to ensure healthy and safe soil for an edible garden through the environmental remediation process. San Francisco Public Works’ landscape architecture and engineering teams created the design plans for the new garden and worked with the local contractor Giron, to oversee its construction.