|Golden Gate Community Park Garden|
Today I'd like to spend some time talking about community gardens. They seem to be sprouting everywhere and used to attract younger potential residents escaping the sky-high housing prices in San Francisco . One such enterprise is the Golden Gate Community Garden in the East San Francisco Bay Area. Lauren Markham, in a recent post for New Yorker Magazine titled "Gentrification and the Urban Garden," shares with readers how these gardens are being used to attract potential residents to Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley area (NOBE). NOBE is a collection of long established neighborhoods that, since the fifties has been home to low- and middle income African-Americans. The creation of a community garden is part of the rebranding of the area to drum up real estate business in the area and is an example of how something as simple can be used in the name of gentrification.
|Phat Beets Produce logo|
"It's not uncommon for real-estate agents to stage veggie beds in the back yard," say Ms. Edwards who has often employed this tactic herself. "It's a life style that buyers buy into," she explained. "The life style of growing food. Which they may or may not do, but they're buying into that food culture."
|Blighted lot in Oakland, California|
|Urban Adamah farm|
Ideological differences can surface even when the relationship between developers and farming non-profits is strong. For example, before the recession, the San Francisco based development company Emerald Fund invest in an undeveloped two-acre plot in West Oakland with the intention of building housing units. The lot ran up against a gentrifying area but was also bordered by run-down Victorians, abandoned industrial buildings, tarp-covered van and buses that were, perhaps, being used as homes. Enter the recession and the Emerald Fund gave up on its residential development plans. Marc Babsin, a principal at the firm said that in order to recoup some of the lost costs, the company got in touch with with City Slicker Farms which sought and won a state grant to increase urban green space. The grant funds allowed the community agricultural organization to purchase much of the land. "We had to spend a lot of time and resources, when we owned it, keeping the homeless out. People would set up encampments, people would dump things there. Instead of that, having this very activated space where people are coming and going and growing vegetables-it's got to be better for the neighborhood and property values," said Mr. Babsin.
The Emerald Fund is still hoping to build on the remaining land and wants to make sure that the farm is still there as a draw for future condominium residents, not replaced by more blight. "The farm is for the whole community-not just for your condos," says City Slicker Farm executive director, Barbara Finnin. Ms. Finnin pointed out that poor people have been gardening and raising chicken in low-income urban communities across America for years. "That it is now fashionable is more a function of whose stories get heard and whose don't," opines Ms. Finnin. And those stories are part of the broader connection to gentrification-a sometimes painful transformation process and sometimes profitable process for the parties involved. If young home owner want to raise chickens and goats, real-estate agents love them. Personally speaking, chickens and goats belong on farms with people who know what to do with them not as neighborhood enhancements.
For more information on the community agriculture organization featured here:
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