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Sisterhood Farms at Brotherhood Way Project

Sisterhood Farms at Brotherhood Way

Cultivating Community through farming and greening

The Brotherhood Way swale consists of six acres of open lands managed by the Department of Public Works in San Francisco. Googlemap 200 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco for map image of this Arch Street/Brotherhood Way area.

This south west San Francisco neighborhood around this Brotherhood Way section consists largely of immigrant families, many of whom are monolingual elders with agricultural backgrounds. The area, also know as the Oceanview-Merced Heights-Ingleside (OMI) district is completely devoid of shopping venues for fresh greens and vegetables of any kind.

Because most of these elderly immigrants cannot drive, shopping has to occur via the M Oceanview MUNI streetcar line, which can carry residents to Chinatown for vegetable shopping via a transfer to another bus line.

In order to ameliorate this cumbersome circumstance, the neighbors are proposing to create an urban agricultural farming area on large parts of these extensive Brotherhood Way lands.

Once agricultural production commences with large varieties of greens produced, it can be anticipated that the efficient farmers will be producing large amounts of surplus crops that can be shared with local neighbors. This estimation is based of the fact that just a few experienced farmer neighbors already planting in the Brooks Park Community garden are now able to share part of their crops with some of the neighbors that are unable to or unfamiliar with vegetable growing.

One extremely crucial and positive angle on this experience is related to the fact that OMI neighbors are segregated based on language and thus also by ethnicity. The older Chinese immigrant population cannot communicate with the native born Americans; consequently a mutual feeling of unease and slight distrust and irritation has been described by many on both sides. Once the sharing of vegetables started occurring, an immediate feeling of mutual interest and kindness developed as the Chinese felt that their presence and value as neighbors took on a positive character, and the native born mostly African American neighbors expressed a feeling of admiration for the prolific crop production. One touching story is that a daughter expressed great relief that her parents found the community garden to plant in, because their now twice daily activities in the garden have replaced their daily habit of going to Chinatown to gamble every week. Their life outlook and physical health have improved per their children’s statements. The parents can now for example walk all the way up the steep hill to the garden without stopping to take a breath as they used to have to do.

Orientation and information:

OMI - District 11 Google map 200 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco for image of the lands made available by the Department of Public Works (DPW) for extensive crop production under the Street Park Program.

Contact: Peter Vaernet (415) 586-1451


Last updated:
August 27, 2015 Copyright © 2015 Ron Madson
El Granada, California
email: Ron Madson