UC Master Gardeners of San Mateo & San Francisco
University of California
UC Master Gardeners of San Mateo & San Francisco

Kelly Cullen Community Rooftop

Sitting area amidst vegetable planters
Sitting area amidst vegetable planters
In a concrete urban environment, a rooftop garden holds the irresistible promise of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as quiet green space for relaxation.  Most of us have a roof, but how many of us use it for gardening?  That is exactly what is happening at the Kelly Cullen Community Rooftop!


The roof terrace includes fruit trees, a vegetable and herb garden, open tables and chairs -- and plenty of sun! The garden was designed as a space for residents to gather and experience nature.  The laundry room was moved from the basement to the rooftop level to encourage residents to spend time there. 

Lemon tree; several varieties of tomatoes
Lemon tree; several varieties of tomatoes
Currently the garden is hand-watered and features black enameled raised planter boxes, trellising, and light, permeable pavers.  Participation in gardening is voluntary, so some residents actively grow seasonal vegetables like greens, kale, pole beans, squash and tomatoes, as well as herbs, cane berries and lemons. Others simply enjoy the space as a sanctuary in the heart of the city.  It’s the perfect spot to relax while waiting for laundry to dry.

The Kelly Cullen Community is a result of the YMCA’s nationwide restructuring efforts to phase out its residential hotel business.  The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) purchased the historic Central YMCA and developed it into the Kelly Cullen Community, which is named after one of TNDC’s first executive directors, Brother Kelly Cullen. TNDC is a non-profit organization that has been providing affordable housing and services for low-income people in the Tenderloin and throughout San Francisco since 1981.

Pole beans on trellies
Pole beans on trellies
Together with support from many funders, consultants, Gelfand Partners Architects, preservation architect Knapp Architects and Cahill Contractors, TNDC rehabilitated a 100-year old historic recreational building, which served the community from its opening day in 1910 until July 1, 2009, and transformed it into a housing community in which at-risk and formerly homeless individuals could feel safe and supported by their community.

Learn more about the Kelly Cullen Community at www.tndc.org/property/kelly-cullen-community-220- golden-gate/

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