Extra food from Alemany is taken to the Free Farm at Gough and Eddy (thefreefarm.blogspot.com), which hands out free produce every week — though that 1/3-acre farm is set to close later this year to make room for a new development including a church, community space, and housing units to replace a church that was destroyed in a 1995 fire. Veggie Table at Third and Palou in the Bayview also gives out free produce to the community. And there are small-scale commercial ventures like Little City Gardens in the Mission, which sells salad greens and herbs to restaurants and catering companies, and which is setting up an agriculture distibution program for the community.

City policy is changing to make it easier for would-be urban farmers. In 2011, a change in zoning law made it easier for individuals to sell produce grown on private land, and the passage of the Cottage Food Law in January allows private residents to sell minimally processed foods, like homemade pickles.

Currently, state Assemblyman Phil Ting's bill AB 551 has moved to the Senate. It would give tax incentives to private landowners willing to commit their land for at least 10 years to urban farming. And the city of San Francisco has committed funds for a new Urban Agriculture Program with one full-time employee, potentially to fall under Rec and Park — a one-stop resource for urban agriculture.

Of course, San Francisco will never come close to the urban farming initiatives of cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, and even Oakland — the cost of land here is just too high. And pocket farms will never be able to provide enough food for the city's population. But they can educate school groups and individuals about where food comes from, provide fresh produce to communities that need it, serve as neighborhood hubs where volunteers can get their hands dirty outdoors for a few hours a week ... and maybe prove that crops and condos can co-exist.

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Robert la Bohème
Robert la Bohème

To bring in new soil in raised beds, because the dirt in San Francisco is full of lead from all the paint that's come off the buildings over the years. Beyond that, to do it wherever you can. I live near that farm and am still not sure what the issue was. Someone owns the land don't they? It's their land, isn't it? If they're building the farm's gotta go, doesn't it?

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