Can I plant some vegetables in the vacant lot nearby?

Advice on how to make the world better.
March 21 2010 7:36 AM

Garden-Variety Activism

Can I plant some vegetables in the vacant lot nearby?

Do you have a real-life do-gooding dilemma? Please send it to ask.my.goodness@gmail.com and Sandy will try to answer it.

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Since there are already so many community gardens in the Bay Area, make sure that yours actually fills a need (and that people will help you!). Send flyers around your neighborhood and approach established groups, such as community centers or churches. Talk about your idea at a community meeting. Congress proclaimed August "National Community Gardening Awareness Month"; go ahead and use the publicity to help drum up support for your cause.

Starting a community garden is no easy task, so no one will fault you if this sounds like more than you bargained for. In that case, you can get involved with an existing community garden, such as Alemany Farm in southeastern San Francisco or Free Farm Stand, a volunteer-run organization that offers backyard produce free to the public (especially low-income residents of the Mission District). Or join a group that is harvesting and donating food from local fruit trees, such as Village Harvests or SF Glean.

Finally, if you have backyard space in addition to the ugly vacant lot you'd like planted, consider contacting MyFarm, one of the few for-profit urban gardening groups. MyFarm will design, plant, and maintain an organic vegetable garden in your own backyard for an installation cost and modest weekly charge. With that kind of service, not even I would be able to kill the tomatoes.

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Do you have a real-life do-gooding dilemma? Please send it to ask.my.goodness@gmail.com and Sandy will try to answer it.

Sandy Stonesifer works on issues related to adolescent girls' health at a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.