Check out this inspiring and practical presentation from our very own Severine von Tscharner Fleming at the Bioneers Conference in October!
Tigers on Market Street!
The Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio rutulus) has found habitat on San Francisco’s Market Street. Over the next two years, while Market Street’s ultimate design is in the lurch, the City’s “Make Your Market Street” campaign has invited us to tell this unique story of urban ecological adaptation. The Action Grant will be used towards engaging the public in understanding this unique butterfly phenomenon, create pilot methods for placemaking, and connect people to wildlife in one of the densest urban areas. These interventions will ultimately test ideas that may be integrated into the permanent design of Market Street.
For the past year or so, a group of urban agriculture activists here in SF, has been working to push forward the idea of incentivizing urban property owners to sign long term leases with farmers by offering an adjusted property tax rate. If a property owner agrees to put their land into long-term agricultural use (10 years or more), the county could opt to assess the property at a lower rate based on it’s agricultural use instead of its market value. Over the year, we’ve had countless meetings discussing the idea, brainstorming its implications, and researching similar models (there are few, but a helpful starting point was California’s Williamson Act). Fortunately, State Assemblymember Phil Ting (former SF Tax Assessor), looking for ways to promote urban agriculture at the state level, has recently adopted the idea and has officially introduced statewide legislation known as Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act (AB 551).
You can find the current draft of the legislation here, along with a comprehensive FAQ about the bill here. It should be noted that the legislation is still in draft form, and our group of SF urban ag activists is strongly pushing for a few key changes to the draft before it’s finalized. We’ll post updated language to the draft as it unfolds.
This legislation could directly affect the sustainability of projects like ours, and even more importantly, could generate opportunities for more self-sustaining commercial farms to sprout up in cities throughout California. I think this could be a promising step toward the viability of urban farming, as well as toward widening its accessibility by lowering a significant financial barrier. And, more broadly, if this legislation passes and is put into use, it could help bridge the gap between urban and rural food production and consumption, and California’s cities could be on a path to becoming stronger and better-informed allies in advocating for a healthier agricultural system overall.
Linda Hussa writes and ranches cattle and sheep in California’s farthest northeast corner, on the edge of the Black Rock Desert. She is the author of seven books of poetry and non-fiction, all of which artfully explore rural lives and work—their struggles as well as their joys. Hussa has won numerous awards, including the “Willa,” given in the name of Willa Cather by Women Writing the West. She has recently been nominated to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame for her work as a poet, writer, rancher, historian, and activist.
Hussa will read her poetry, and be joined in conversation by guest curator Lisa M. Hamilton, whose own work explores agriculture and rural communities. Hamilton features Hussa in the current photographic exhibition exploring rural California; indeed it was Hussa’s own words that gave the exhibition its title, “I See Beauty in this Life.”
Next Seed Saving class is on June 4, 3:30-5:30 in the Potrero Branch Program Room, 1616 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Seed Lending libraries are sprouting up across the state with at least six in Northern California and one coming soon in Los Angeles. With the recent opening of two branches in San Francisco, community members are bringing food safety, biodiversity protection, and urban farming back into their own hands. The first two branches of the San Francisco Seed Library, a project of Transition SF and the San Francisco Permaculture Guild, are open for lending at Hayes Valley Farm and as a pilot project at the Potrero Branch of the San Francisco Public Library; the next seed saving class is on June 4 at 3:30 in the Potrero Branch Program Room. Continue reading
HOW IT WORKS: On-site cheesemaking classes in the Bay Area. You gather the people. I bring milk and all the supplies. Classes are suited for up to 15 students though not limited to. Choose fromclasses that last an hour to ones that last several. Learn anything from yogurt to feta to mozzarella to farmstead cheddar.
- Ricotta Clouds: This class teaches you how to make whole milk, skim milk and whey ricotta at home. Includes a taste testing of cow vs. sheep ricottas as well as a display of traditional and creative ricotta forms. Class is 2 hours long. ($300)
- Kefir and Yogurt: Learn the simplicity of homemade kefir and yogurt. Learn how to sweeten and flavor these delicious andhealthy foods. Learn about probiotics, shelf life, mother cultures and more. Participants recieve cultures to take home.Class is 3 hours long. ($335)
- Mozz Stretch: After a breeze through cheese chemistry, you’ll jump right into mozzarella stretching fun. Taste test mozzarella varieties. Be inspired with mouthwatering meal ideas. Stretch your own fresh mozzarella knots to take home and enjoy. Class lasts 1 hour. ($375)
- Mozzarella Madness: Start with some fresh milk. End with a buttery ball! This longer class teaches you how to make mozzarella curd (both the old-fashioned way and the quick methods) then moves you through curing and stretching techniques. Cultures and recipes are included. Class is 4 hours long. ($450)