Parks, Farms, and Gardens: Green Spaces in the City

We often talk about “nature” and the “city” or “urban” and “rural” or “the wild” and the “civilized” as opposites, categories that are mutually exclusive.  But in the twenty first century, these categories might not be particularly accurate–or particularly helpful–ways to imagine the spaces we live in, work in, and shape.  San Francisco, a city so often on the forefront of new trends, is reshaping urban green spaces and how we use them.  We are the only city that has a national park within its boundaries; we have urban farms; we have a grocery store that has its own apiary (that’s beehives for honey!); we have pocket parks created from former street parking spaces.

For our Jellis Block, we’re going explore and work in some of these innovative San Francisco green spaces.  Some questions we might consider as we go:

  • How do cities create and provide access to a range of outdoor green spaces?
  • What purpose do those spaces serve for different communities in the city?  Who has access to them and how do they use them?
  • Why does getting outdoors and amongst plants and dirt matter anyway?
  • How are old notions of “recreation” changing and new concepts of community shaping what people do when they get outdoors?

Over our four days, we’ll visit and work in a range of urban green spaces.

Day 1: Habitat restoration in the Presidio We’ll spend a day learning about native plants in the Presidio and why the park service is returning parts of the Presidio landscape back to an earlier sand dune ecosystem.

Day 2: Green in the Mission  What types of green spaces can be reached by foot from the center of one of San Francisco’s densest neighborhoods?  You and a couple of partners will research and lead the rest of the group to the spaces you discover.

Day 3:  Working at Allemany Farm This urban farm not from Lick-Wilmerding raises produce for people in the neighborhood.

Day 4: Historic Garden restoration on Alcatraz The park service is restoring historic gardens on Alcatraz.  As we help with the work, we’ll find out why.


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