There’s a treasure trove tucked in the quiet Inner Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco. While many people may drive or zip by 7th Avenue to get from the south to the central part of the City, it could be easy to miss this gem that’s been a wealth of gardening knowledge for the past 30 years.
Located on the corner of Lawton Street and 7th Avenue, Garden for the Environment maintains a nationally acclaimed half-acre education and demonstration garden in the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. The garden, founded in 1990 and cultivated on land owned by the SFPUC, supports small-scale urban ecological food production, organic gardening, composting, and low water-use landscaping.
Hundreds of San Francisco Unified School District students visit the garden on educational field trips each year. The field trip program is available to third through fifth grade students and combines a water-focused classroom presentation by SF Environment staff with a trip to the garden.
During field trips, students tour the garden, stopping along to way to look at waterwise plants, watch a drip irrigation system in action, search for garden bugs, learn about the orchard, and explore each of the veggies growing in the urban farm. Students also learn about rainwater and graywater systems and feel the heat of a cooking compost pile.
Following the tour, students split up into small groups and rotate through activities where they get hands-on experience in the garden. All groups go through a compost rotation, where they prepare, mix, layer, and sift compost piles. Students also help with planting seeds, mixing compost into a veggie bed, pulling weeds in the orchard, and other basic garden tasks.
After activities, students eat a picnic-style lunch in the garden and explore the plants and creatures of the garden on their own. The day ends with a closing circle where students share what they learned and ask any final questions.
In addition to field trips, the SFPUC also sponsors low-cost workshops at Garden for the Environment to help San Francisco residents create and maintain beautiful and water-efficient gardens. Workshops are hosted on Saturday mornings from 10am to noon at garden. The low-cost workshops are brought to the community by the SFPUC. 100% of workshop fees are reimbursed upon attendance through gift cards to local garden stores.