Alemany Farm and Other Gardens In the News

Dear Farm Friends,

Greetings and well wishes from your Friends here at Alemany Farm. The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the absolute necessity of local food production – whether in community gardens or backyards – and recently Alemany Farm was featured in the New York Times and Sierra (the national magazine of the Sierra Club). Both items shed light on the good work Alemany Farm and other community gardens nationwide are doing to boost local food sovereignty, feed hungry neighbors and friends, and foster a culture of garden-literacy, rain or shine (or global pandemic). We invite you to check them out:

‘If All the Stores Close, We Need Food’: Community Gardens Adapt to the Pandemic” – New York Times (April 10, 2020)

The Rebirth of the Food Sovereignty Movement” – Sierra (April 15, 2020)

(The article in Sierra, notably, is penned by our very own Friend and long-term volunteer co-manager, Jason Mark, who co-founded Alemany Farm back in 2005.)

Hearty thanks to those of you who’ve reached out recently to offer financial contributions, kind words, and to ask how you can support the farm from your homes! It’s encouraging to see the farm community remain active and engaged even as we all grapple with the prolonged consequences of COVID-19. If you are able, please donate to keep the farm productive in a time of food scarcity.

We look forward to when we can welcome you back to the farm to work and learn together. In the meantime, we’re bringing some of our farm workshops online, starting on May 2 . And we’re sharing a few photos below – evidence that farm work of all kinds continues.

If you’re looking for other ways to help boost food production in your community, you may be interested in the #CoopGardens initiative, a public campaign launched by The Cooperative Gardens Commission, aimed at connecting those with food-growing resources – including seeds, soil, tools, equipment, land, labor, and knowledge – with those who lack such resources. Learn more at

Many thanks for your attentiveness to the natural world and your readiness to share seeds, starts, sweat, and other kinds of support, so that Alemany Farm can continue to nourish neighbors and friends in many ways.

With love and appreciation,

The Farm Team

DONATE to support our work.

Vertical stack of 3 images: two figures hunched over a garden bed (top); a bin of compost (middle); a strawberry plant with a ripe berry (bottom)
Farm work of all kinds goes on, even during a pandemic:
Michiyo and Abby thinning seedlings; compost composting;
a strawberry ripening. Photos by Jack Thomas.

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Farm Photos of the Week

Dear Farm Friends,

Our skeleton crew continues their work to keep Alemany Farm productive during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Last week they planted mustard, choi, chard, squash, and bush beans, and harvested the weekly donations for the Alemany Public Housing Food Pantry and the Free Farm Stand.  They found a few moments for some photography, too. Enjoy some spring color:

colorful rainbow chard arranged in a crate
Rainbow chard crated for Friday harvest, April 10. Photo by Jack Thomas.
left: Farm Manager Abby holds a bucket of greens; right: Michiyo pulls a wagon of supplies along a pathway
Abby and Michiyo at work on the farm. Photos by Jack Thomas.
A triptypch of photos featuring blue flowers in bloom.
A trio of spring blues at the farm. Photos by Erik Rotman and Jack Thomas.


April Update from the Farm

A person rinses produce in a bucket near crates full of various fresh produce
Farm Manager Abby Bell works on the Friday harvest. Last week, we harvested 150 lbs of produce for the Alemany Public Housing food pantry, and for the Free Farm Stand. Photo by Jack Thomas.
Triptych of photos showing purple lupine at right; butter lettuce at center; and yellow blossom of flannel bush with ceanothus at right.
Signs of spring at the farm. Left to right: Sky lupine in the front garden; lettuce in the main garden; flannel bush and ceanothus in native plant area. Photos by Jack Thomas and Abby Bell.

Dear Farm Friends,

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep the spring from coming.” In the midst of our current public health crisis, so much seems changed, interrupted, and uncertain. And yet, at Alemany Farm and at farms and gardens all over, spring arrives, life asserts itself, and the crops continue to grow.

Activities at Alemany Farm are necessarily limited at the moment: no volunteering, no workshops, no events. But be assured that the farm is being cared for and that Friends of Alemany Farm remains committed to growing healthy food for residents of San Francisco and to stewarding this beloved green sanctuary for humans and wildlife alike. The City has designated our work at the farm as an essential service during the shelter-in-place order – an important recognition of the work we do to feed low-income families in San Francisco. Farm Manager Abby Bell and Assistant Manager Jack Thomas are on site doing essential cultivation and maintenance on Mondays and Fridays, in coordination with two staffers from the Recreation & Park Department. Last week they planted new beds of collards, beets, cilantro, onions, choi, and lettuce, ensuring that the Farm will continue to offer food in the months ahead.

There is a saying among farmers: “Food is medicine.” This moment is reminding us how essential it is to eat healthy, fresh foods that can support our immune systems, and how vital farms and gardens are. Like clean air and water, we need healthy food to survive. Abby and Jack’s work on the farm with our SFRPD partners includes not only keeping the crops growing, but continuing our weekly harvest donations each Friday for the food pantry in the neighboring Alemany Public Housing community, and for the Free Farm Stand, which gives away free produce each Sunday in the Mission District. Neighbors are also coming by to find a bit of fresh air and to harvest produce for themselves and their families. In this way, Friends of Alemany Farm is sustaining the work we’ve done for 15 years and supporting folks who may be especially vulnerable at this moment.

During this time when we can’t work together with you in the garden, we hope we’ll all continue to cultivate community spirit, even at a distance. We hope these photos from the farm to help you feel connected.  Another way to connect is with a gift. Roughly 30% of our annual budget evaporated with the cancellation of many springtime events. If you are moved to support us with a donation, it will sustain the essential work of providing fresh, healthy, free food for the folks who need it most. We know many people are experiencing financial hardship and uncertainty right now. However, if you are able to donate, we will be most grateful for a gift of any size.

Like many of the City’s parks and green spaces, Alemany Farm remains open for folks to visit while observing social and physical distancing guidelines to help control the spread of COVID-19. Nearby friends and neighbors are welcome to come by to catch a break and a breath of fresh air, to pick some fresh produce, and to get a sweet taste of spring.

We will keep in touch with you in the coming weeks with more photos and updates from the farm. In the meantime, we wish you good health, a good night’s sleep, nourishing meals, a sense of connection, and an experience of spring wherever you can find it.

Please donate if you can.

Update on Farm Workdays

Dear Farm Friends,

Due to the shelter-in-place order now in effect in the City and County of San Francisco, there is no volunteering at Alemany Farm until further notice. This is part of the widespread effort to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Rest assured that the farm will be safely cared for by a skeleton crew of approved staff in the coming weeks, so that we can keep it thriving and productive until we can welcome volunteers to join us again.

Please note that many City parks and green spaces remain open for the public to visit while observing social and physical distancing guidelines.

We will miss working together with you in the physical Alemany Farm space in the coming weeks; we know that our workdays are a respite for many of us from the stressors of daily life and a chance to connect with Bay Area neighbors in a shared mission. Although we do not have this common space for the moment, we hope that we’ll all remain in community spirit even at a distance. We encourage you to take good care of yourselves and each other, and to find safe and responsible ways to enjoy a bit of fresh air and the natural world on your own.

Please visit the San Francisco Department of Public Health website for more information on the response to COVID-19. 

Please be well and look out for each other. We look forward to when we can gather together again at the farm.


Zuni Café Benefit Dinner for Alemany Farm!

UPDATE: The benefit dinner for Friends of Alemany Farm at Zuni Cafe has been postponed in light of current measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. We look forward to rescheduling this event at a later date.

Dear Farm Friends,

Friends of Alemany Farm is thrilled to be the beneficiary of a special dinner hosted by Zuni Café and East Bay Eats on Monday, March 16, with special guest chef Filbert Lim! Every other month East Bay Eats host a family-style, community dinner at some of the Bay’s most beloved restaurants.  And in March, dinner is for the farm!

Enjoy a seasonal, multi-course, prix-fixe mediterranean meal – wine included – at one of San Francisco’s landmark restaurants. Signature cocktails may also be ordered throughout the night at the cash bar. All in support of Friends of Alemany Farm!

Tickets are $100 per person for a multi-course meal (wine included). Two seatings: 5:30 and 8 p.m.  Please join us on March 16 for this special evening, and spread the word to friends in your network who love good food and community agriculture!


Note that there are other ways to support this event: To maximize the funds we raise from the dinner, we are recruiting volunteer servers, bussers, and bartenders for both seatings. Experience helpful, but not required. Get more details and fill out a brief form to let us know you’re interested. Then we’ll be in touch with more info and to confirm.

Thanks for your consideration. We hope you’ll join us on March 16!

flyer advertising zuni cafe benefit dinner for Alemany Farm, March 16

“Grow Your Medicine” with Bonnie Rose Weaver

Dear Farm Friends,

This spring, Alemany Farm will be home to an herbal intensive offered by Bonnie Rose Weaver and Scarlet Sage Herb Company.  First class session is on February 9.

Grow Your Medicine will consist of six half day (4 hr) intensives that will follow the steps of germination, cultivation and maintenance of medicinal plants in San Francisco (24 hr total). With affordable and easy to learn techniques, the class will dive into the basics of greenhouse management, home and community herb gardening, herbal small business operation and land stewardship. Hosted at Alemany Farm, this will be an immersive course that will shift the way you interact with the natural world. Enrollment is limited to 15 people.

Bonnie Rose Weaver is a clinical herbalist, medicinal landscaper, and lifelong San Franciscan. They are a medicinal plant cultivator, medicine maker and the author of Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis. She reads tarot cards, astrological charts and energy.

Please note this is not a Friends of Alemany Farm workshop, so different pricing and registration process apply.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER at the Scarlet Sage website.
(Farm friends get a 10% discount on the course! Use discount code FARMFRIENDS.)

Year End Report … New Year Support

spinach seedlings in trays in greenhouse
Spinach seedlings, Alemany Farm greenhouse, January 2019. Photo by Chase Johnson

Dear Farm Friends,

Most of the crops at Alemany Farm begin like these spinach seedlings: tiny and delicate, nurtured in the warmth and shelter of our greenhouse.  We know many of you have volunteered time in our garden beds popping young plants like these out of trays and into the garden soil to set them on their journey to maturity, ripeness, and productivity.

This is the time of year when we ask you to consider giving the farm a nurturing hand on our journey into the new year with a donation to Friends of Alemany Farm, if you are able.

Below are some quick stats, highlights, and images from 2019, to let you know what Friends of Alemany Farm has been up to in the past year with your help. We also hope they will inspire you to make a tax-deductible gift to keep us growing in 2020.

24,000 pounds of fresh produce harvested year-round and provided free to San Franciscans. In addition to our substantial weekly harvest for the Free Farm Stand, we also provide produce to supplement the weekly food pantry next door in the Alemany Public Housing community, as well as the student food pantry at SF State University, a relationship fostered by one of our former interns.

left: an intern writes a harvest list on a whiteboard; at right, two people rinse greans in a bucket
Left: An intern writes a harvest list. Right: Harvesting the weekly produce donation to the Free Farm Stand, which gives out free food in the Mission district every Sunday. Photos by Chase Johnson

17,000+ volunteer hours logged in 2019 (a record for us). This includes close to 15,000 hours of volunteer work on site at the farm, contributed by many hundreds of volunteers. These individuals not only contribute to the work of the farm, but they come together in community with folks of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of experience. We’re grateful for this outpouring of energy, and proud of our role in welcoming and guiding such a diversity of people in this work. Help us keep the farm gates open.

people working in the south garden at Alemany Farm on a sunny day
Volunteers at work in the south garden, April 2019

120 group visits to the farm hosted by Friends of Alemany Farm throughout 2019: corporate groups, service groups, school groups, college classes, church groups, and more. That’s a relatively short sentence that represents long hours of work on the part of our two paid staffers, our volunteer leaders, and interns. We aim to make sure these many hundreds of visitors have a safe and rewarding experience while pitching in to help with the work of the farm. (Dozens more groups were hosted at the farm thanks to our partnership with SF Rec & Parks Department and RPD’s Youth Stewardship Program.)

31 interns participated in our internship program throughout 2019. Managed by our farm manager with help from the assistant farm manager, the program continues to grow in popularity. Interns not only learn fundamentals of gardening and community agriculture, but make a significant contribution to farm operations, notably through their assistance with weekly volunteer workdays. They show up early to set up, stay late to clean up, and in between help orient and guide volunteers in collaboration with workday coordinators.

Your donation will help support Friends of Alemany Farm’s two paid staff positions, which are central to enabling us to realize all the activity detailed here and to maintaining the farm’s volunteer ethos.  Funds are also used to pay for seeds, basic materials and supplies, and workshop and special event expenses.

22 workshops in 9 months of the year served over 350 participants, many of them experiencing the farm for the first time. With topics ranging from worm composting to gardening basics, beekeeping, natural fabric dyeing, and cooking from the garden, Friends of Alemany Farm’s workshops are accessible in content and cost, with no one turned away for lack of funds. Our series has truly blossomed in the past year under the direction of our farm manager. In the fall, we piloted our first workshops specifically for young kids and their guardians, and plan to offer more in 2020.

Left: A man and young girl stand by their worm bin. Right: A colorful bowl of salad with edible flowers
Left: Readying a worm bin at the worm composting workshop, spring 2019. Right: An early summer farm salad at a “cooking from the garden” workshop.

2 beloved annual seasonal events: Our Earth Day Celebration in April and Harvest Festival in October – both now in their teens – each drew a record number of attendees this year. With live music, farm chores, farm tours, kids activities, and a traditional potluck picnic and BBQ, these free community-building events draw many old friends and new friends to connect with the farm and our community.

left: musicians play near a tree while a man and young child look on; right: people help themselves to a potluck buffet
Left: Tony Saunders and friends played at Harvest Festival. Right: Earth Day crowd help themselves to the traditional potluck lunch.

1 Head Start partnership. This fall, we began a collaboration with the Alemany Head Start program to provide monthly activities to enhance early childhood classroom education through hands-on learning related to food, health, agriculture and nutrition. In October, our farm manager and several interns got 18 kids at Head Start started on planting their own garden, and they have begun to work with them monthly on caring for their plants and garden beds. Already they have harvested cabbages and onions and tried some new foods! With your help, this work will continue in 2020. Future goals include a potential “kid zone” on the farm.

Left: young children sow bean seeds. At right, a young child waters young plants.
Very beginning gardeners sowing seeds and watering young plants. Alemany Head Start, fall 2019.

A singular San Francisco treasure. That’s how we and many other people think of Alemany Farm.  Your year-end donation will help us keep all these good things growing and flowing at the farm in the coming year. As we look forward to celebrating Friends of Alemany Farm’s 15th anniversary working at Alemany Farm in 2020, we’re grateful for the year-round generosity of spirit, time, and energy that keeps the farm so alive on many levels. If you are able, please make a gift to support our hard work and our vibrant community.

Support Alemany Farm

blue sky with wispy clouds, and lupine leaves with water droplets
Spring sky and lupine at the Farm.

It’s Giving Tuesday

Strawberries cradled in cupped hands

Dear Farm Friends,

We’ve had Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but today is Giving Tuesday, when people across the nation and around the world will give to their favorite organizations. Started in 2012, Giving Tuesday is simply meant to celebrate the power of generosity.

If you’re moved to participate, we hope you’ll consider a gift to Friends of Alemany Farm.

In a way, we feel like it’s Giving Tuesday all year long at Alemany Farm, due to the incredible volunteer energy that nurtures and sustains us through all the seasons. (Perhaps you’ve contributed to the more than 17,000 volunteer hours we’ve logged in 2019!) We’re truly grateful for the community that has grown at the farm, and that keeps it growing.

But we do need substantial funds to make all this happen. Your monetary gift will help us continue to realize our mission at the Farm in the coming year through a range of activities and programs, and of course the many thousands of pounds of fresh produce that are provided free to San Francisco residents!

Learn how to donate to Friends of Alemany Farm.

We thank you for your consideration and for your support, whatever form it takes.


Friends of Alemany Farm is fiscally sponsored by the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Thanksgiving Weekend Schedule

Dear Farm Friends,

Please be aware that due to the Thanksgiving break, we will NOT have a community workday or herb garden workday on Sunday, December 1. We’ll be back on the farm as usual for the Monday workday starting at 1 p.m.

We wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and extend our gratitude for your support throughout the year!