Situated between the rushing cars of I-280 and the St. Mary’s microhood in San Francisco is a stretch of Alemany Boulevard that hosts the Alemany Flea Market, Alemany Farmer’s Market (founded 1943, the first in California), the Alemany Public Housing (also known as the Black Hole), and the Alemany Farm.
Alemany Farm began as a loose collaboration between the tenants at Alemany Public Housing in the late ‘80s. It was formally created as a nonprofit organization under the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG) in 1994 until the group’s demise in the early 2000’s. Since then, The Friends of Alemany Farm have operated the farm on a volunteer and donation basis only.
Despite producing approximately 10,000 lbs. of fresh, organic produce yearly, Alemany Farm remains a little-known community in socially-conscious San Francisco. As dense as San Francisco is, it is fascinating – and encouraging – that Alemany Farm is hiding out in the Mission, providing anyone who volunteers the opportunity to grow their own food and take some home that very day. Due to the extended growing cycle of San Francisco and the constant planting, new produce is available weekly for harvest.
After all, food justice is about making sure everyone has access to good, real food. After all, what better place to offer exactly that than next to a housing project, the inhabitants of which are typically marketed to by fast food chains and junk food manufacturers.
Twice a week the main volunteers at Alemany Farm emerge as people dedicated to urban farming, to having control over their own food source, to working the land. In these photographs, I try to show the cooperative spirit, sense of community, and passing of knowledge that takes place at Alemany Farm.