Sidewalk Farming

July 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

I had to take my Mini Cooper S in for service so, car-less, I took a walk around the Castro neighborhood to enjoy the sunny day (a rarity during a San Francisco summer, I figured I might as well soak it up while I could). It’s funny how something that could be an inconvenience — having no car — can lead you to discoveries that you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

On one of those one-block side streets that seem common in San Francisco, I discovered a sidewalk farm.

Okay, maybe “farm” is an exaggeration. But there, sprouting out of two rectangles of dirt, protected by an elfin fence, right smack dab in the middle of the concrete sidewalk and next to an old parked car, were what looked like a newly-planted Meyer lemon tree and a tangle of vegetables–an artichoke of Jurassic proportions with an electric-purple flower bud; corn with tiny, tasseled ears that had gone to seed; herbs; and chard.

Newly planted Improved Meyer Lemon tree

Sidewalk "farm"

Sadly, the tangle looked slightly neglected, except for the chard, which appears to be the family favorite as its outer leaves had been harvested.

The well-loved chard

But it made me think: whoever planted this could believe in the importance of being connected to where your food comes from. She or he planted vegetables instead of bougainvillea, which is what you see in front of nearly every other house in this neighborhood. And the patch had a slight manure odor, meaning someone had cared enough to fertilize it (or someone did not clean up after her dog).

I want to go to that house at a time that someone might be home, knock on the door and start a conversation. I want to know what inspired those folks to farm their sidewalk. I want to know if they plan to rejuvenate it and revel in eating the vegetables they raised. If they say “no,” or “I wish we could but we don’t have the time,” a part of me wonders if they’d say “yes” if I offered to tend it for them.

I hope they answer the door. And then I hope they don’t think I’m a complete weirdo.


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