San Francisco, CA— The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER) held an opening celebration today for the Hummingbird Farm, a new urban agriculture farm at Crocker Amazon Park next to Soccer Fields Parking Lot (entrance on Geneva Avenue near Moscow Street). During the public event, PODER unveiled the garden's name and community members participated in a ceremonial planting, enjoyed fresh food and took part in cultural activities.
"The Excelsior is one of the most ethnically diverse and culturally rich neighborhoods in San Francisco," said Yolanda Manzone, Director of Community Benefits, SFPUC. "Our agency sees great value in leveraging our land and resources in a way that supports the health and wellness of this community while simultaneously helping our environment."
Located on six-acres of SFPUC land, the Hummingbird Farm will make affordable produce available to communities in the Excelsior neighborhood — where the highest proportion of San Francisco residents pay more than half their income in rent and 71% of students qualify for federally funded lunch programs. The farm — managed and operated by PODER — is projected to provide more than 1,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables each season. It will also serve as a community hub, providing a space for individuals of all ages and abilities to participate in farming, educational activities, and cultural celebrations.
"We believe that public land should be used to meet the needs of our community, our families, and our healthy futures," said Tere Almaguer, Environmental Justice Organizer, PODER. "The Hummingbird Farm provides our neighbors with access to organic healthy food and builds the muscles needed to govern the farm collectively. The farm also creates a space where elders can share their wisdom with younger generations and youth can teach their elders. Everyone is welcome at the farm and has a role to play."
Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), a nonprofit providing environmental education programming for youth, collected 1,000 native seeds and veggie seedlings for the farm at Crocker Amazon. LEJ partnered with the Urban Campesinx — PODER's collective of urban gardeners, farmers, and educators — to collect seeds, propagate and plant them on the land.
“Our farm is an example of a great community victory made possible when we organize together," said Tere. "We believe local solutions are necessary to heal the land. In the face of climate changes, it's everyday actions like composting, cultivating native plans and localizing our food production that will help to restore the earth."
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 800 million people worldwide practice urban agriculture — helping urban residents to save money on food purchases. In the United States, state and local government agencies own about one-tenth of public land averaging around 200 million acres. Increasingly, many government agencies such as the SFPUC are partnering with non-profits, local communities and businesses to incorporate urban agriculture projects— community gardens, school gardens and large-scale urban farms— into their public land use planning and policies.
The SFPUC is the first public utility in the nation to develop Environmental Justice and Community Benefits policies, which shape how the Agency provides water, power and sewer services while supporting environmentally healthy and safe communities. As part of the SFPUC's Environmental Justice/Land Use program, the Agency partners with community organizations to create gardens and sustainable food systems on SFPUC land.
"San Francisco is one of the greenest cities in our country," said Francesca Vietor, Senior Director, The San Francisco Foundation and SFPUC Commissioner. "With dedicated community leadership and a commitment to collaboration, our city will continue to serve as a model for others looking to activate public spaces, support environmental advocacy and help communities live healthier lives."
About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at sfwater.org.
PODER is a grassroots organization that works to create people-powered solutions to the profound environmental and economic inequities facing low-income Latino immigrants and other communities of color in San Francisco. We are a 26-year-old membership-based group nurturing everyday people's leadership, regenerating culture and building community power. We organize for environmental justice to build community assets while staying rooted and connected to San Francisco communities. We believe that public land should be used to meet the needs of our families. We are organizing to build collective cooperative governance structures because we believe that when we build a connection to each other and the land, we improve the well-being of ourselves and our community. Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.