Public Harvest

Expanding the use of public land for urban agriculture in San Francisco
SPUR Report
April 23, 2012
Photo by Michael Waldrep

Urban agriculture has captured the imagination of San Franciscans in recent years. More than 20 new urban farm and garden projects have launched since 2008, and in 2011 the city changed its zoning code to permit urban agriculture in all neighborhoods. City gardens and farms provide greenspace, recreation, education about fresh food, cost savings and ecological benefits. But the city will not fully capture these benefits unless it responds to the growing interest and energy behind the issue.

The demand for more space to grow food is strong. In most neighborhoods, residents must wait more than two years for a community garden plot. The current amount of land dedicated to urban agriculture is insufficient, funding is down from its peak 10 years ago and support from city agencies is largely uncoordinated, understaffed and, as a result, inefficient. SPUR offers 11 recommendations to expand and coordinate the city’s institutional support, increase funding and provide more access to public land.

View an interactive map of urban agriculture sites in San Francisco >>

About the Authors: 

The SPUR Board of Directors reviewed, debated and adopted this report as official policy on February 15, 2012.

Public Harvest was made possible by the generous support of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, the Columbia Foundation, the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the Seed Fund.

SPUR Staff: Eli Zigas

SPUR Interns: Katherine Bell, Jacob Kraemer, Elizabeth Li, Matt Longwell, Nathan Marsh, Samantha Roxas and Jesse Sleamaker

Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Policy Board:
Allison Arieff, Rosie Branson Gill, Michaela Cassidy, Anthony Chang, Karen Heisler, Michael Janis, Sibella Kraus, Jeremy Madsen, Blair Randall, Laura Tam, V. Fei Tsen, Francesca Vietor, Isabel Wade and Heather Wooten

Resources and reviewers:
Kevin Bayuk, Corey Block, Julia Brashares, Arden Bucklin-Sporer, Tyler Caruso, Stella Chao, Nevin Cohen, Richard Craib, Greg Crump, Ramie Dare, Jacob Gilchrist, Craig Hartman, Ben Helphand, Jason Hinson, Mei Ling Hui, Paula Jones, Jean Koch, Dawn Kamalanathan, Tom Leader, Kheay Loke, John Montgomery, Joyce Moty, Karla Nagy, Suzi Palladino, Kyle Pedersen, Kelly Pretzer, Rachel Pringle, Mary Beth Pudup, Tom Radulovich, Catherine Rauschuber, Audrey Roderick, Antonio Roman-Alcal√°, Ashley Rood, Cathrine Sneed, Edie Stone, Justina Szal, Paul Travis, Joan Varney, Marvin Yee and Sandra Zuniga