Hayes Valley farm faces the reality of interim use
Alon says that the farm gives a sense of hopefulness and accomplishment to many young volunteers who are otherwise underemployed during the economic downturn, but turning Hayes Valley Farm into a long-term career commitment is not something many volunteers are itching to take on. "Planting and farming are hopeful acts, but not very lucrative in an urban setting."
Many community members who championed the farm in the first place hope that the transition of Parcel P to Build Inc. will go smoothly so that other interim-use projects will be supported in the future. "We love the farm," says Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association member Jim Warshell. "What they've done has been spectacular and wonderful, but that doesn't mean that you don't honor your commitment. The way we respond to Parcel P will affect how people trust us with future deals." And while the farm's popularity among city residents can't be denied, some look forward to the fruition of the city's promise that the area will be converted into homes that residents can afford.
But the sun hasn't set on the work of Hayes Valley Farm. The group is collaborating with the city on finding another location to continue planting and teaching. And the future of Parcel O appears to be some shade of green. For now, there are no imminent development plans for the space and, unlike Parcel P, Parcel O is under the auspices of the city's Redevelopment Agency, not a private company.
Alon says that some of the plant beds and flowers on Parcel O might someday be incorporated into the mixed-income housing developments that will eventually stand around — and possibly on — it. As for the permaculture soil that the farm hands have diligently created, she hopes it can be recycled along with the knowledge that was shared through the project. "Maybe we'll give the soil to neighbors when it's over. They can use it in their own gardens."
For more information on how to support the farm, visit www.hayesvalleyfarm.com.