Tenderloin People’s Garden Grows with the Local Community
Seven years ago, a vacant lot sat on the corner of McAllister and Larkin, just a stone’s throw away from City Hall. Now, the same corner overflows with kale and carrots, volunteers patting down soil, and residents gathering produce to take home with them—all watched over by the humble gardeners of Precita Eyes’ new mural.
Producing 3,500 pounds of fresh produce for over 400 Tenderloin residents and engaging 200 corporate volunteers per year, TNDC’s Tenderloin People’s Garden has become a vital and vibrant part of our community. Frequent Harvest Day volunteer and leader of NerdWallet’s corporate social responsibility program, Rowena Li, noted how the space encourages people in the neighborhood to just stop by and say hello.
“It’s subtle, but that sort of openness is refreshing among the streets of ‘for customers only’ spaces and office buildings,” commented Rowena.
The communal space has also become a welcome hub for creative collaborations to educate others on the healing power of good food and self-care. “Growing Together,” the mural unveiled by Precita Eyes Muralists last November, celebrates the diversity and history of the Tenderloin’s residents and the people who care for the garden.
In a similar spirit, TNDC and Precita Eyes have worked alongside the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and 826 Valencia to help students of Bessie Carmichael Elementary School create fruit and vegetable murals for the garden’s fence. At the end of February, students read poems inspired by the garden’s greenery and the foods they love.
“Our dream is that this partnership will serve as the first of many opportunities for the community to tell their stories of food justice,” said Sarah Skinker, TNDC’s Urban Agriculture Supervisor. “We envision the People’s Garden as a dynamic space for an exchange of culture, knowledge, and real food.”