Category Archives: Food-and-Gardens

QGI forges relationships with intrepid volunteer groups

By Shane King

Quesada Gardens has gone through many changes over the years. But one constant has been the great feeling newcomers get when they first hear the Quesada Gardens’ story and then get to do some work in the place they just learned about. On Sunday, November 22nd, two great relationships between the Quesada Gardens’ community and outside organizations were forged.

It took months of back and forth with various groups to settle on dates and times and tasks that would work for everyone. But now new volunteers have been oriented to the project and are eager to come back and help.         

Event planning included Craig Cannon’s renting of a truck that would take debris to the dump multiple times during the day.

The work party started as they have for over a decade now: neighbors and visitors meeting in front of Jeffrey’s house. Craig, Liz Skow, Shane King and Jeffrey Betcher talked with young people from the Student Conservation Association. Three high school students and two youth leaders arrived in the pouring rain, heard a bit about the history and mission of QGI, grabbed tools and got to work. It felt a little crazy to be working in the middle of one of the hardest rains we’ve had this year, but everyone was willing and, in fact, worked really hard.

The first task was to load the pile of debris that has been sitting across from Lisa’s house for the past eight months. Then we set our sights on the Founder’s Garden at the top of the hill wanting to give it the love it’s been needing. The pounding rain finally stopped about an hour into the work, and we could take off our hoods and see how much we’d gotten done.

Volunteers in Founder’s Garden. Photo: Jim Gatteau

Carlos Davilla joined us at the top of the hill where we finished loading up the truck and then said goodbye to our first group of volunteers for the day.

Craig, Carlos and Shane headed off to the dump and unloaded a very packed truck before returning to the gardens just in time to meet our second group of volunteers. The group is known as “Blue,” a Palo Alto/Oakland-based set of families with a deep commitment to community and service.  It included about 30 people, ages 1 to 60, each as hard-working as the last.

Shane King tells a story to a group of volunteers from Palo Alto known as “Blue.”  Photo: Carlos Davilla

Their eyes lit up when they heard the Quesada Gardens’ story, and most of them gravitated towards the dirtiest, most difficult tasks of weeding and pruning in the Founder’s Garden. These people seemed determined to do hard work, and thrilled to have had the chance to work outside for the greater good.

Along with these amazing volunteer groups, neighbors Jeffrey Betcher, Shane King, Carlos Davilla, Craig Cannon, Liz Skow and Danny Kim with his intrepid kids DJ and Emma accomplished Herculean tasks:

  • We took two truckloads to the dump for a total of 1800 pounds.
  • We filled 38 tall compost bags for DPW to pick up.
  • We filled two larger garbage bags with bottles, shoes, litter and other junk.
  • We disposed of one huge, unsightly pile of debris.
  • We introduced 35 people to the inspiring story of what a community with unity and purpose can do.
  • We renewed our faith in humanity after what was, for many of us, a very disappointing election.

Our next scheduled big volunteer day will be March 4th with a group from Habitat for Humanity.

Look for another group, ARC, in the garden, too.  These folks have been coming every Thursday, and have been planting native plants and other vegetables and flowers across from 1771 Quesada.

Reader shares community food history

Many thanks to Susan Demattei Wendt who took time to share important history about our neighborhood and its agricultural heritage after seeing a story on Footprints about a garden on land that was once a family farm and an important part of San Francisco’s food shed.  The pictured tractor is a Footprints photo of one of the last remnants of the Demattei family farm.

“My grandfather was James Demattei who with his two brothers, Anthony and Louis started this farm. My grandfather “Nonno” would walk over to the ranch everyday and tend to produce. He would plant the vegetables by hand, a back straining job. But he never complained, this was his livelihood. This “truck” farm as they used to call it did support three families…..Known as the Demattei Bros. My grandmother would handle the books, taking orders etc. Their family home was on the corner of Neptune and Williams. We, as kids enjoyed going over to the ranch and visiting Nonno. He also had a barn across the street from ranch. He used his plow horse, “Dolly” to plow the fields. These were wonderful times for all is grandchildren. My father, Fred Demattei (James’s eldest son) used to get up early in the morning and take the produce to the produce market on Alemany Blvd. He did this in the summers while on school vacation. Louis Demattei had this job also. My grandfather was an Italian immigrant who along with his brothers started this business which prospered for many years. Hardwork and ambition does pay off. I miss those days, but have a lifetime of memories.”

Thank you, again, Susan!

Jon-028-1024x768More about the Demattei farm


Where’s the Duc Loi Pantry?

Whatever happened to the Duc Loi Pantry that was to go into the old Fresh and Easy Market space on 3rd Street? A central issue seems to be Duc Loi’s intent to purchase an alcohol license.

HEAL Zone/SEFA offers this background:

“Duc Loi Pantry is expecting to open a market in the former Fresh and Easy site (5900 Third St) sometime in spring of 2016. As part of the operations, the owner, Mr. Howard Ngo, has applied to purchase a Type 21 license, allowing for sale of beer, wine and spirits. Fresh and Easy had a license to sell only beer and wine.”

As hungry as Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood is for a new food market, adding more booze to the landscape is a concern for many community members.

See lots more about the rocky road to food security focused on 5900 3rd Street

The public is encouraged to provide comment in advance of a hearing at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee in the coming weeks (possibly on April 14th or May 12th).

Send comments to Lt. David Falzon, Alcohol License Unit:; The Clerk of the Board:; Supervisor Cohen:; Chief of Police Suhr:

Urban Ag Resource Center popping-up at 900 Innes

900 Innes urban ag centerSan Francisco Parks and Recreation has acquired the historic 900 Innes property at the end of Hudson Ave off Hunters Point Blvd, and will be offering garden resources at the location.

“This upcoming Urban Ag Resource Center in the Bayview continues to build on the Garden Supply Popups we did this past spring,” the City’s Urban Agriculture Coordinator, Hannah Shulman tells Footprints. “The Urban Ag Program continues to build citizen’s capacity to activate and steward our open spaces with food producing gardens.”

On December 12th:

  • 9a-12p Free Compost, Soil and Mulch Giveaway!  BYO Bucket or Bag.
  • Community Tables and Informational Resources for Gardeners.
  • 10a – Winterize Your Garden Free Class. Learn about processes to save your soil’s health and structure this winter and prevent erosion in your garden.

A Rainwater Catchment for Urban Gardens class is also being offered.

  • Taught by Kat Sawyer of Tap the Sky
  • 1pm at Abundance Garden at Bayview Mission, 1547 Jerrold Ave.
  • Class is $10 suggested donation, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
  • This class will cover the basics of rainwater harvesting to maximize the free water we expect to see this winter in our gardens.   Check out the newly installed system and talk to the experts!

More event details

More about the community connection to 900 Innes

More about Abundance Garden and Bayview Mission


Bridgeview Garden gets new design element

John and Sherry 9-2015 cropped webvAfter a few dozen seasons of food production in Bayview’s Bridgeview Garden, and in the wake of hundreds of visitors curious about grassroots community building, the garden shimmers as much as the showcase project ever did.

Last week, another community generated element appeared when a posting board that gardener and neighbor Sherry Scott (pictured) had been designing and building was installed next to the garden gate. Sherry used corks donated from neighbors as her primary material.

The new board is now in service below the art glass letters that Herb Dang created from scrap glass at Public Glass, a Bayview glassworks nonprofit, and in front of a massive bench by local artist Mark Baugh-Sasaki who constructed it from wood pulled from neighbors garages and the street.

Sense a theme here?

It’s all part of the Quesada Gardens Initiative‘s approach to social change: grassroots, community-emergent, sustainable, neighbor-driven. Joel and Mary McClure have been the project leaders since 2008 after caring for what was a weedy, rocky, trash-strewn empty lot by themselves.

John Kosich (pictured) and Sherry Scott have been gardening and contributing to the project for years. Both John and Sherry are architects and designers by trade, and good neighbors by nature.

Tile staircase another destination point attraction at Quesada Gardens

Stairs in progress with Scott 6-19-2015 webv
Scott has been doing tile installation since the ’70’s. The work that Scott and his colleagues Noe and Rosheddy have done at Quesada Gardens earned them lots of friends in the area. Photo: Footprints

The completion of a public gathering space project at Quesada Gardens in Bayview that began in 2006 will be celebrated as part of a block festival called “JUST LOVE on the block” scheduled for Saturday October 3rd.

Professionals from SF Department of Public Works – Scott, Noe and Rosheddy – recently installed nearly 600 ceramic tiles on a long cement staircase located at the end of a cul de sac on Quesada Avenue between 3rd Street and Newhall.

Boxes of tiles had been stacked in a Quesada Gardens member’s garage for the past seven years as the group struggled to find funds to complete the project. The staircase connects a large mural by Diedre DeFranceaux with Santie Huckaby, finished in 2007, to a landscaped vista designed by Steve Aiello that was dedicated to Quesada Gardens’ founders by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

While the community has been improving and using the public spaces where the staircase is located for many years, the completion of the staircase tilework brings the destination point project to life in a new way.  It also records the view neighborhood children had of their neighborhood in 2007, expressed through drawings on tile.

Those bright tiles are now on the risers between each of 80 steps, years after they were created by Bayview children who participated in an environmental education program orchestrated by Heidi Hardin of Think Round Inc.  Bayview children participating in the project were in neighborhood schools at the time: Dr. George Washington Carver Academic Elementary School, Malcolm X Academy, Thurgood Marshall High School and Visitation Valley Middle School.

In addition to Heidi, participating artists were Mauricia Gandara, Pernilla Persons, Izzbelle Graezer and Suzanne Couture.

The overall project initially was funded by a grant from the SF Community Challenge Grant program. The recent tile work was made possible in part by a gift of DPW labor facilitated by Supervisor Malia Cohen. The neighborhood group, Quesada Gardens Initiative, raised money through product sales to purchase commercial tiles at Latch Tile, a nearby independent business, to complement the tiles created by neighborhood children.

Hydroponic gardening in Bayview backyard

Andrew KoltuniacBayview resident Andrew Koltuniac has designed and installed a hydroponic system in his own backyard.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. More

“I am doing larger ones now,” he told Footprints, “with 275 gallon containers called IBC Totes.”

Andrew says that the entire set-up costs about $500. He invites neighbors and community gardeners to contact him for more information.

Andrew Koltuniac is helping make Bayview's backyards more sustainable.  Photo: Koltuniac
Andrew Koltuniac is helping make Bayview’s backyards more sustainable. Photo: Koltuniac


Involved neighbors, dancing, and marriage at the gardens

Arthur and John 6-2015
Arthur and John after work that transformed a section of the Quesada Gardens. Photo: Quesada Gardens

It’s a busy summer at the gardens. You may have seen John Davila pictured in a DPW media campaign as a model community member he is.  John just led a transformation of the center section of the garden with a huge assist from Arthur.

Joel and Mary keep up with the little miracle we call the Bridgeview Garden.  A group of neighbors gathered for a Sunday gardening hour which they hope will become a monthly tradition.  Scott, Noe and Rosheddy, skilled tradespeople working through SF DPW, are installing tiles on the big staircase at the community mural and gathering space located on Quesada and Newhall.

As if that weren’t enough for one month, QGI has partnered for a second time with Jo Kreiter and Flyaway Productions bringing 15 local teenage girls to the gardens for a month of dance- and video-making.  My house is all-in-one home base, video studio and classroom for a curriculum emerging from the intersections of community building, social justice and art.  The gardens and art projects outside are the stage for GirlFly at the Quesada Gardens dancers. More

Amber 7-1-2015
Amber helps harvest fruit from Baybloom Backyard Gardens trees as part of her GirlFly experience at Quesada Gardens. Photo: Jo Kreiter

I’m grateful to my neighbors who have worked to make the gardens beautiful and safe for dancing, and to others who have squeezed into the house to share their professional and practical experience.  Among the community co-educators are: Joel and Mary McClure, Marie Harrison, Wei Ming Dariotis, Shane King, Heidi Hardin and Justine Remo.

On Quesada, just across 3rd Street, neighbors Lee Rolfe and Michael Hamlin brought home the meaning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s same sex marriage ruling by getting legally hitched 25 years into their partnership after their 2004 marriage was declared null and void.

Lee and Michael were among the first to host progressive dinners so that gay folks along Quesada could get to know one another.  The series of dinners became a network of folks known as “Gayview” (and, after a dinner at Davon Frascas‘ place that included people from the broader neighborhood, rechristened as “Gayview Homos Point and Silver Tiaras”).

See a very moving video about Lee and Michael – Love Prevails

Other inspiring Bayview residents, Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, have been national leaders in the effort to legalize same sex marriage.  You may not have known who they were, but you probably saw them in the media.

More about Stuart and John