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

The Tenderloin People’s Community Garden

Planting beds at the Community Garden
Planting beds at the Community Garden
This is an amazing garden in an unlikely location.  Developed out of a need for healthy food and a desire for green space, this garden transformed an empty lot into a neighborhood oasis of food production and community.

This garden has become an inspiration for all types of inner city gardening, a true example of turning a lump of coal into a diamond.

The Tenderloin neighborhood is one of the only neighborhoods in San Francisco without a full service grocery store, making access to fresh, affordable food a daily struggle for the many poor and low-income residents.

Vertical wool-pocket planters
Vertical wool-pocket planters
The Tenderloin People’s Garden was created as part of TNDC’s Campaign for Food Justice, which promotes a more equitable food system that prioritizes all people’s access to the basic human right of healthy and nutritious food.  The People’s Garden is a volunteer-led urban farm that brings people of all ages and ethnicities together to grow and harvest free fruits and vegetables for the community.  Food crops are grown throughout the year in the ground as well as in a vertical garden using wool pockets as planters.

This effort began in 2010 with the transformation of a once vacant lot near City Hall into a vibrant and vital community garden. Over 380 resident volunteers of diverse ages and ethnicities have joined together to grow food and strengthen their community. The land is owned by the City and leased to TNDC. To date, the project has produced hundreds of pounds of produce to distribute to Tenderloin residents for free, an impressive yield for a 25 foot square garden plot. Produce includes broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, cabbage, corn, red and green tomatoes, and ornamentals. Volunteers have also contributed plants that reflect their own tastes and cultures, including bok choy, mint leaves, and Chinese melon.

Garden focal point with ornamentals
Garden focal point with ornamentals
In an effort to involve more children in the garden, the garden hosted a Garden Art Day. The event was a great success as the children expressed so wonderfully:

“We learned that, just like us, vegetables are not grown up in one day”;
“We need to work hard and care about the garden and need to wait, and we and the plants will grow up together”;
“We learned to be patient and work hard and we will have a good harvest.”

Learn more about the Tenderloin People’s Community Garden at www.tndc.org/our-services/community-garden/
There is always work to be done at the garden; volunteers are welcome.

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