Pickles and Web sites

Streets of San Francisco: Eco-superhero Zoey Kroll connects dirt with technology to bring life to the street

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Kroll in the outdoor photo studio of Hayes Valley Farm

By Margaret Tedesco

arts@sfbg.com

STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO Zoey Kroll does a lot of things to bring life to the streets of the city. One of her current projects is a hands-on workshop on photography and social media. It takes place twice a week this month at the 2.2 acre outdoor photo studio of Hayes Valley Farm. Kroll plans for some of the upcoming workshops to have a theme that compliments this article. Read all about it.

SFBG What is your project?

Zoey Kroll Edible Office is a front-yard salad farm, a comic studio, and a research lab where I connect dirt and technology. I have a greenhouse filled with 30 varieties of lettuce, an alphabet garden with edibles from A-to-Z, and a perennial vegetable bed. These are tests of what grows best in different San Francisco microclimates.

Sometimes slugs and gophers eat everything. My parents and I collaborate on a comic book series, Super-Green, which documents my adventures as an urban farmer and as a very human eco-superhero.

SFBG How did it come into being?

ZK I started making a front-yard vegetable garden, which became a comic book, which became an urban farm. Then I took photographs of the garden, started a seed library and a blog, and made pickles and Web sites.

I'm also working with other artists, activists, and geek gardeners at projects: Hayes Valley Farm, a new 2.2 acre urban farm on Laguna and Oak streets; A Living Library, an ecology and media program at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School; Pocket Seed Library, a community seed-saving and picnic advocacy group; and CivicActions, an open source technology company empowering social change organizations.

We're building social networks, media strategies, open source tools, and maps.

SFBG How does what you're doing relate to streets and space in San Francisco?

ZK Growing vegetables in your front yard, in a community garden, or at a school brings life and vitality to the street. I hope my projects inspire people to go outdoors.

SFBG What are the best aspects of it for you so far?

ZK Every day I hear about a new inspiring urban farm or garden sprouting up in this city. Who would have believed we'd have a field of fava beans growing over the decaying ruins of the [Highway] 101 on-ramp? What could be more poetic than a freeway food forest in the middle of the city? That's what Hayes Valley Farm is all about — possibility and magic. It's unbelievable what's happened in the four months since it started — and it changes every week.

SFBG What plans do you have in the future?

ZK I am at Hayes Valley Farm documenting the progress and the people, and connecting with people who want to create positive change in the world and also have fun. I'm teaching photography and social media workshops at the farm from 3 to 4 p.m. every Thursday and Sunday this month. Come join me!

www.edibleoffice.com; www.hayesvalleyfarm.com; www.supergreencomics.com; www.twitter.com/edibleoffice