Hayes Valley Farm is leaving, but legacy still blooming

Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. ExaminerArtist GK Callahan created the Please Touch Garden on Grove Street after first working as a volunteer with Hayes Valley Farms.

Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. ExaminerArtist GK Callahan created the Please Touch Garden on Grove Street after first working as a volunteer with Hayes Valley Farms.

The popular urban farm located on a 2.2-acre plot on Laguna Street between Fell and Oak streets is leaving the property to make way for a condo development.

Farmers have already begun packing up.

“I’m not sad. It’s a celebration of so much happening that wasn’t an option three years ago,” said Jay Rosenberg, co-director of the farm. “We’re using this as a launching point for amazing projects. I’m looking forward to getting to work on those.”

The farm was allowed to use the parcels, which were carved out of the demolished Central Freeway, as an urban farming location on an interim basis. Many of the plants and trees the farm used were portable in anticipation of the construction project eventually claiming the space.

Though the Hayes Valley Farm in its current form will dissolve in two months, the hope, Rosenberg said, is that smaller gardens will take its place all throughout The City.

“We’re spreading all over,” Rosenberg said. “It’s more than just a physical location.”

Rosenberg has already formed 49 Farms, which he hopes will act as a catalyst to help create one farm in each square mile of San Francisco.

The influence, educational assistance and physical products Hayes Valley Farm can provide have already popped up through small farms in The City, including SF Bee Cause on San Bruno Avenue and an urban garden at the New Liberation Presbyterian Church on Divisadero Street.

The Please Touch Garden, on Grove Street also benefited since its director, Rob Joyce, began as a volunteer at Hayes Valley Farm. Since then, the 0.08-acre garden across from City Hall has turned to the farm for educational techniques and physical supplies.

“We have unirrigated native plants to the more traditional raised beds people are familiar with,” Joyce said. “We also have fruit trees on site to demonstrate pruning. We hope the demonstrations can inspire and help others grow their own plants.”

GK Callahan, founder of the Please Touch Garden said the focus of the project has always been building community, and that’s exactly what he’s experienced since they began transforming the space in 2010.

“It’s been nice to see how many people stepped up to help out,” Callahan said.

Construction on the planned 182-housing development at Hayes Valley Farm is expected to begin later this spring.

The farm agreed to vacate the southern portion of the property by March 1 and will completely leave by June 1.


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