The plant-it-yourself movement in San Francisco is really picking up steam. But for anyone lacking a backyard or spacious deck perfect for sprouting plants and flowers, there's a bevvy of community gardens (like the Alemany Farm and the Hayes Valley Farm) dotting the city for you to live out your green-thumb dreams in. There are many more out there beyond the ones listed here. Find one in your neighborhood by clicking here.
All In Common Community Garden(Mission)
This is one of the rare community gardens in the city that's free and has no waiting list. There are no separate plots, hence the name, and all volunteers share what they grow. It's been an organic garden for more than 35 years, and all members rotate what crops they grow so there's a perfect variety of produce to be had each season. The curious are invited to check it out on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-3 pm to see if it's for them. On 23rd St. between Folsom and Shotwell.
Fort Mason Community Garden (Marina)
Although there are 125 plots in this garden, there's also a hefty 7-year waiting list. In its infancy in the 70s, many of its members were immigrants passionate about cooking (they even kept rabbits for fresh meat!) and composting. Today, members have a rigid schedule of work days and annual meetings, all followed by potlucks and barbecues fueled by the delicious things grown in the garden itself. The lucky few who have plots can grow whatever they please, in or out of the greenhouse on the property. Membership ($80 per year) applications can be found here. Good luck!
In the 80s, this plot used to be a blighted children's playground that bore the nickname "Needle Park". Then in the early 90s, the spot was transformed–after much red tape and bureaucracy–into the leafy haven it is today. The City & County-run garden has wheelchair accessible plots, a chicken coop and even beehives, a koi pond and members grow everything from succulents to fruits, veggies, and orchids. To find out about membership (which costs $35 per year), click here to get on their mailing list or email them here.
Page Street Garden (Lower Haight)
This dynamic community space's membership dues run on a sliding scale, so households and individuals from all income backgrounds can get in on it. The head of the 35-plot garden, Michael McCauley, runs composting and sheet mulching workshops and helps kids from nearby John Muir Elementary learn about growing plants. Members share each others' harvests and every once in a while they'll host acoustic bands and have potlucks in the sunshine. They even spread the beauty and help plant trees around the neighborhood. For membership information (the waitlist has baout 60 people on it), email Michael here.
Potrero Hill Community Garden (Potrero Hill)
Situated high on a hill (with panoramic views!) right above where the famed Potrero Hill Goat Lady used to let her goats graze, this 50-plot garden has been yielding fruits, veggies, bees, honey and flowers galore since the late 60s. It's one of the few unlocked gardens in the city, so they encourage people to just enjoy the views and not pick the produce its members toil over for months. If you're stuck on the waitlist for this garden, they encourage you to become a "garden buddy" and be responsible for parts of their front garden to get you primed for the real deal. Contact them by email here or leave a voicemail at 415-449-0410.
Brooks Park Community Garden (Lake Merced)
This garden specializes in its Native Plant Habitat Restoration Project, where local kids can donate community service hours and learn about native California foliage. Members come to work and hang out here amongst the trees and gardens to enjoy the views of the Farallones and Mt. Tamalpais in the distance, and even play ping pong, bocce ball and volleyball. To get in contact with the community garden coordinator, click here.
Visitacion Valley Greenway Community Garden (Visitacion Valley)
This garden is the perfect example of how a community can work together to transform under-used space into tranquil, green spaces everyone can enjoy. The Greenway Garden, made up of 6 large plots and a greenhouse, provides education for area kids by reserving kid planting beds, an herb garden, playground, and even runs a rainwater diversion program to save valuable resources from slipping down sewer drains. To find out how to get involved, email organizer Anne Seeman here.