Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bayview's Newest Garden Takes Shape

With a lot of help from our friends at the University of San Francisco and Stanford University, the Bridgeview Garden emerged today from the hillside at Bridgeview and Newhall Streets.

The good Bayview weather welcomed Professor Seth Wachtel, Dionisia Montanez and Maxwell Gladish from USF early in the day as they reviewed the garden design they had created from a thorough community consensus process. They then marked off where retaining walls were to be constructed from "urbanite," broken concrete salvaged from demolition and supplied by our allies at DPW.

Stanford student volunteers and other USF students soon joined in to do the hard work of cutting into the hill and relaying pieces of concrete into place. Donald, pictured above, is a Stanford student who was a part of the work party that cleared the lot months ago. A number of other students were marking their third and fourth volunteer days. Today, they began to see the fruits of their enormous contributions.

The Bridgeview Garden has been designed for food production and education. It includes a small amphetheater where groups - especially children - can learn about gardening, the environment, and health. At the same time, it is becoming a place of beauty and a visible symbol of community strength.

Residents, Joel and Mary McClure, who had taken care of the lot for many years, were on hand as usual, and hosted an incredible lunch spread for the hungry workforce. Their countless contributions to the Quesada Gardens Initiative, their care of the Bridgeview site, and their leadership on the Bridgeview Garden project from "day one" has set the bar of resident involvement in our wonderful neighborhood high.

Other residents - Mike Kan, James Ross, Mike Aisenfeld and Darian Smith - worked side-by-side with the students, as several Bridgeview neighbors stopped by to see the progress.

Quesada Gardens has done these sorts of events so often now, that many participants look forward to them because they know they will see familiar faces, have fun, and come away with a sense of community and accomplishment that is nothing short of remarkable. It was a truly good day!

More to come:

We're organizing another day to complete the retaining walls, build the new fence and gate, and plant the garden. USF's new student organization, "Back to the Roots," is coming to the neighborhood to work with residents who want to incorporate vegetable and fruit production into their backyards as part of QGI's residential urban gardening project. And a new garden at Latona and Thornton is being created by residents near that site working with Quesada Gardens.

We are grateful to the Department of the Environment for major funding for the Quesada Gardens Initiative's food production work. Additional funding has been provided by Kaiser Permanente, California Pacific Medical Center, and San Francisco Parks Trust. All these funding partners understand the importance of positive community-building strategies, producing healthy foods, and educating children about their important place in our community and the environment.

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