Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens, a community art project that encourages people to grow their own food

Victory Gardens is a new project by Amy Franceschini. The project recalls the WWII victory gardens project that encouraged citizens to grow their own food as a tactic to keep them calm over the war and support their troops. Franceschini, the daughter of an organic farmer and an industrial farmer, takes the project back to where it began—in front of the city hall buidling in San Fransisco, where they planted a large garden and since introduced a pilot project to disseminate the skills and tools needed to do urban-scale gardening across 15 households throughout San Fransisco.

There’s also a write-up on the SF Victory Gardens 2007 project in the previously mentioned JoAP.

I know FedUp is working really hard in this city, and that Tom Lucier proposed planting a garden for the downtown mission, and that Scaledown once (maybe) suggested the old Greyhound station downtown is turned into some kind of market, and that there’s rumours of a symposium surrounding urban activism that may discuss some of these very things… so (since this is what BCL does) I have to suggest that we move forward with the planning for a large-scale urban/community gardening plan, something like turning 10% of the riverfront into a community garden (maybe on the slopes that lead up to University Ave). Anyone interested?


13 Replies to “Victory Gardens”

  1. There is an Essex County CSA group, a little different but some of those people and some of the FedUp group might also be interested, even though they are working on other gardens. I would be one of them.

  2. Hi Vicky,
    Thanks for that connection… I think this project could only move forward if people like you and groups like the Essex County CSA (btw, what does CSA stand for?) and FedUp can lead the gardening part. I’ll be happy to push it as much and in anyway that is needed, but it would be fantastic to have your kind of expertise in sustaining the garden and teaching others how to tend to gardens, harvest the food, etc.

    Keep in touch!

  3. CSA is community supported agriculture. We’ve put in cash to buy seed and a farmer donated land. We’ll all be learning to garden together. I’m not an expert but I am an extra pair of hands. :D

  4. Your project sounds fantastic—congrats on pushing forward with it (and getting the free land)! I’ll keep you posted as we develop our ideas for riverfront community gardens.

  5. Are you thinking of getting permission to plant there, or doing so under cover of night? The city will remove any plantings from the riverfront pretty much immediately. If you were to partner with some community group like a church, or the YMCA or the mission, you might be able to convince the city to allow it on a trial basis on city owned land. I’m betting, though, that until you can get something successful going in another location, they’re not going to agree to a project like this happening on the riverfront, as it’s the one part of downtown that has had a lot of money poured into fixing it up.

    If you want to just move in somewhere and start gardening guerilla-style, you may want to check out the residential neighbourhood east of the casino. It’s full of empty lots left behind by demolished homes, most of which haven’t been touched in a decade or more. Just find out which are privately owned and which, if any, have been expropriated by the city, then move on in. It’s still near the river and fairly central but way more off the radar in terms of getting caught and having your garden mowed over by a city worker.

    If the riverfront is really where you want this to happen, you might be better able to get away with it down at the other end near the distillery. There are those hillside meadow areas that have been established as wildflower habitats, and the city might look more kindly on a project like this happening down there where the aesthetic they’ve chosen for the area is less manicured.

    I’d be interested in lending a hand for this project as well.

    1. Jodi, thanks for the suggestions for the lots east of downtown, I hadn’t even considered those. Ideally, yes, this would be a project that finds us partnered with the city, and though I imagine it will indeed be next to impossible to get anything like this happening downtown, it’s worth hoping because it would be really, really great to have a community garden alongside all those flowerbeds.

      Another location we’ve thought about is in Sandwich. Just north of Russell St and west of Mill St, there’s a fairly large plot of grass that is city owned as far as I know. It might be easier to work with the Sandwich community and Ward 2 councillors to pushing this forward, especially if we could get the startup cost down to zero (maybe looking into a grant from TD Friends of the Environment if necessary). I think finding partners with the city and community makes these projects a lot more interesting. Although I certainly find inspiration in guerrilla actions (and gardening), it’s a lot more difficult to make the case for other community members to repeat the action, reuse our tactics, and make it their own, if it’s illegal.

      And very good to know you’re up for helping too!!!

  6. Interested?
    Gee Whiz.
    Even if I only help plant, harvest, whatever, I’d like to see this get more coverage, support, and prowess.
    Whatever I can do.
    Redundancy is an issue with this also, and I think having something large and unified (with a very niche group) is the best way to go.
    FedUp could be the pioneering group for this.
    It’d raise their profile too.

    1. Yes, we need to connect with FedUp to see what their goals are, the way I see this unfolding is less a Broken City Lab ongoing project, but just using our energies and resources to push for the establishment of the garden, then hand it off to the community (or other community groups).
      And of course, we’d love to get our hands in the dirt.
      Glad you’re on board Tom!

  7. Hi all,

    Yes, talk with Maya Ruggles about Fedup’s involvement. But, she told me yesterday that there is a group out of the Sandwich Teen Health Centre (a group of 5 or so) that are trying to organize a community gardening in Sandwich town. You might want to connect with the centre to see if they want to work together (the need for a charitable group Jodie was mentioning). Also, Caroline Postma is also interested in using city land for gardening. Putting these two groups together might help get access to the Russell street land (and there’s lots there!).
    I’m pretty filled up, in terms of time, but I would love to help this get started and eat some food together in the garden(s) this summer.

    1. Hi Ron,

      Thanks for the contact! I emailed Maya and she also noted the group from Sandwich Community Health Centre working on a garden, so as mentioned, we’ll connect with them, FedUp and speak with Caroline Postma, and hopefully soon! And thanks for the offer on helping getting this started … the more support the better!

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