Tag Archives: Quesada Gardens

Equinox Celebration at Quesada Garden

By Wei Ming Dariotis

Spring Equinox: Rainy Renewal!

Neighbor Maxine Kraemer carried a basket of sunflowers, each carrying the message, “Welcome, Spring!” As neighbors joined the group, Maxine gave each one a sunflower to carry like scepters as we marched slowly up Quesada from Third Street to Newhall, inspecting the garden we share along the way.

Spring came quietly, muffled by gentle rains. We gathered intrepidly, despite an all-day drizzle, to witness together the transition between seasons. Sunday, March 20th was officially the day Winter released its hold and gave way for Spring to enter, with new growth on dead-looking twigs, spring greens everywhere, and a riot of weeds in the garden.

Rithy Chan and Sharon Bliss had hosted several “Weeding Meetings” in the weeks before we gathered, ensuring plenty of bare, freshly disturbed earth to receive the seeds we scattered. A dozen adults and kids, covered by orange and red umbrellas, flung orange California poppy and purple lupine seeds into the center median garden, each person deciding where they would like to see spring flowers emerge from the winter showers.

We finally reached the top of the hill just before 7 pm. The rain was starting to come down harder, but we stayed in a circle together just long enough to share the Winter things we wanted to let go of to make room for the Spring things we wanted to let in. We let go old ways of seeing ourselves to make room for how our bodies are now; bitterness and negativity for a more positive outlook; mourning for hope.

Some expressed a simple joy in seeing new things growing. Our newest neighbor shared a belief in having been drawn to the block purposefully to join our community. We looked around and were grateful for everyone who came out despite the rain to share an ancient ritual of renewal and rebirth with people who are in their lives just by being neighbors.

Some expressed a simple joy in seeing new things growing. Our newest neighbor shared a belief in having been drawn to the block purposefully to join our community. We looked around and were grateful for everyone who came out despite the rain to share an ancient ritual of renewal and rebirth with people who are in their lives just by being neighbors.

New beginnings at QGI

Wei Ming Dariotis
Fall is a time of change and transformation in the Bay Area; with the advent of the rain, it is also the best time to sow new crops or plant anything that might like a little extra water while getting established.
lettuce
Like our garden, the Quesada Gardens Initiative is also going through a major transition during this fall season as Jeffrey Betcher, who has long been the backbone of the organization, is stepping back. This raised critical questions: Do we as a community have the capacity to continue running the Quesada Gardens Initiative? Do we even want to or need to?
At a meeting on November 5th, at the home of Craig Cannon, the response to those questions was a resounding, “Yes!” We were moved by the dedication and vision of the founders, Annette Smith and Karl Paige, and so many others beginning in 2002. We were moved by the continuous organizational work of Jeffrey, and the amazing tireless gardening work by neighbor John Davila and so many more.
Jeffrey had already stepped back into “just” the roles of Bayview Footprints editor and Board Treasurer.  Now Eric McDonell, who is used to handling budgets for the United Way Bay Area for which he is the Chief Operating Officer, is stepping into the Treasurer’s role.  Eric’s wife, Hydra Mendoza-McDonell, who serves on the SF School Board and as the Mayor’s Senior Adviser on Education and Family Services, took on leadership too: funds development and outreach for the organization.
[As a side note: Eric and Hydra who have lived on Quesada for many years, just recently became homeowners on the block. Congratulations, Eric and Hydra!]
Other critical roles are being filled, mostly by neighbors who have had some previous experience with the organization or who are re-committing to their roles.
John Davila, who has been recognized in posters all over the neighborhood, will officially become the Gardening Outreach Coordinator, with support from Shane King. John has been the most recognized face of Quesada Gardens through his almost constant presence and continuous work to develop the garden.
As a chef, John is especially attuned to planting yummy edibles.  But he is just as adept at growing relationships between neighbors as he is at growing tomatoes. John is the guy you will always see with what seems like a dozen kids swirling around him, including his daughter, Meah. In many ways, John has become the “heart” of Quesada Gardens.
Building on his experience as an independent filmmaker who coordinates groups to achieve a common goal, Shane King has recommitted to his role of Volunteer Coordinator. He will work with John to make sure that the large groups of volunteers are achieving goals that support the needs of our community.
Second-generation journalist Elizabeth Skow, whose work has been published extensively in Bay Area newspapers and who has been involved in writing for Bayview Footprints in past years, will take over from Jeffrey as editor with support from Craig Cannon and Wei Ming Dariotis.
Liz and I will also work on grant writing, and I will continue as Meeting Coordinator utilizing my endless experience from time served on the Academic Senate at SF State. [Robert’s Rules of Order will NOT be enforced at QGI meetings!]
Linda Pettus, who has lived on the block since the 1970s, has recommitted to her role as the organization’s Secretary. It is Linda we have to thank for the careful records she keeps of our meetings.
We all enjoy our gardens’ murals, and many neighbors have mentioned a desire to see more art in the gardens. This might include permanent installations and performances as well as using the garden as an environment to inspire art. Responding to this, Craig Cannon, formerly an artist with Pixar, volunteered to be the Creative Arts Coordinator, with support from neighbors Beth Johnson and bronze sculptor Rithy Chan.
Our neighbors up-the-block, Joel and Mary McClure, recommitted to their work as Project Leaders on our allied garden used for teaching and demonstration, the beautiful Bridgeview Garden on Newhall just above Quesada.
Other neighbors who attended the meeting and supported the decision to continue Quesada Gardens Initiative include Tai TrangMike McKevitt, and Craig Williams.
Hopefully, the rains – and our collective support – will also allow for our new leaders to become well established in their new roles.

Quesada Avenue extension may carve up open space

Jim Ansbro on Bayview Hill 6-16-2015
Local denizen, Jim Ansbro, at the Palou-Phelps Mini Park just below Quesada Hill where a street extension could eliminate a community-serving natural asset. Photo: Footprints

The steep, craggy hill that interrupts Quesada Avenue just west of the Quesada Gardens is the subject of debate.  While most of the hill’s land is public, at some point in history the City drew a “ghost” or “paper” street extending Quesada Avenue through the hill as access for four parcels of private land.

It seems that a private investor took a gamble that the City would build the street and install utilities.  RL&C Investment LLC purchased lots that are currently landlocked behind existing homes on the crest.  The owner wants to build two 3-story houses.

It’s unfortunate, either for the owner or the neighborhood depending on how all this turns out, that the hill is the best source for Bayview’s native plants.  Literacy for Environmental Justice propagates those plants for habitat restoration along the waterfront.

When you stand on the hill and think about its value to the natural environment, and then think about how rapidly the open space we all need to stay healthy and sane is dwindling, it’s disheartening to imagine bulldozers carving it all up.

– Jeffrey Betcher

Media (slowly) discovering Bayview

Bayview Garden-District-c
Photo: SFC&G

While there may be some confusion around what is Bayview and what is Dogpatch, San Francisco Cottage and Garden Magazine is clear that the area is emerging as the City’s garden district. The businesses and community groups listed in the print and online editions of SFC&G Magazine are solidly Bayview, and include Quesada Gardens for “cultivating inspiration.

Magazine locates the City’s emerging gardens district     »

The Culture Trip ranks Bayview’s Black Cuisine Festival among the top five food festivals in the Bay Area. The online source points out that, “with participation growing every year, this food festival has rapidly become one of the best cultural festivals in San Francisco.”

Get a glimpse of the festival in past years.

Black Cuisine makes the list    » 

African Outlet opens on 3rd at Quesada Gardens

African Outlet interior webvAt the entryway to the gardens, taking over the location that had been home to the Howard family’s “Wendy’s Cheesecake Bakery” for many years, is the African Outlet.  The business made a move from Hayes Valley and, after some fast and furious work on a 3rd Street space, opened in time for Black History Month and 3rd on Third.

Judah Dwyer and Horgan Edet are the charming owners.  I visited them on opening day to learn how an impromptu drum circle had formed outside their shop the night before, how they are already connecting with Quesada Gardens folks, and how excited they are to be open for business in Bayview.

The African Outlet is packed with unique items, from sculpture to textiles. What might be an overwhelming selection, in another store, presents beautifully here and invites the shopper to explore.  More

Garden resources pop-up under Quesada Gardens’ palms

Last Saturday, under blue skies and date palm fronds at the Quesada Gardens, urban garden enthusiasts came together to learn from one another, pull a few weeds on Quesada Avenue, try some of Reggie Bass’ healthy food, taste locally-made jams from the Quesada Gardens General Store, and pick up mulch, soil and compost for their own gardens.

Girls2000 quick break at Quesada Gardens
Young gardeners from Girls 2000 take a well-deserved break. Photo: Footprints
Reggie Bass with book
Reggie Bass “cooked” up raw food and shared his dramatic story. Photo: Footprints
Wei Ming and Mei Ling at General Store
Wei Ming Dariotis and Mei Ling Hui sort out name confusion while Mei Ling leads a jam tasting with jams from the Quesada Gardens General Store. Photo: Footprints
Quesada Gardeners Hussain Abdulhaqq and John Davila work with Girls 2000 gardeners as Brandi Mack helps point the way.  Photo: Footprints
Quesada Gardeners Hussain Abdulhaqq and John Davila work with Girls 2000 gardeners as Brandi Mack helps point the way. Photo: Footprints
Young local Zack helps Girls 2000 gardeners.  Photo: Footprints
Young local Zack helps Girls 2000 gardeners. Photo: Footprints
Tracy Zhu helps a gardener "fill up" with top-quality compost, mulch and soil.  Photo: Footprints
Tracy Zhu helps a gardener “fill up” with top-quality compost, mulch and soil. Photo: Footprints

Craig Gold and Sunny Vibrations…going strong!

Craig Gold was still putting the finishing touches on his Sunny Vibrations mobile food truck when he brought healthy food to a Quesada Gardens’ community garden on Latona Street in 2008. Craig understood how mobile food, fresh local ingredients, and a warm spirit can bring all different sorts of people together and promote the development of a healthy community.

Craig Gold (front left) with a pan-full of healthy deliciousness and a few of the friends he made while preparing it at the Latona Garden.  Photo: Rhonda Winter
Craig Gold (front left) with a pan-full of healthy deliciousness and a few of the friends he made while preparing it at the Latona Garden. Photo: Rhonda Winter

The big surprise for us? The local kids LOVED the healthy dishes Craig prepared. They loved Craig and his solar-powered mobile kitchen too!

Fast forward half a dozen years…Craig tells us that he wants to use the popularity of the food truck movement he helped start to “inspire positive change.”

“After operating our solar powered vegan food truck for several years in San Francisco, I have decided to take a new direction towards education. We will be launching a cooking demonstration tour, inspiring kids to eat their veggies.  And the very seed was planted at your garden.”Gold quote

Now, wherever he wheels his healthy food passion, Craig is forever a part of the Quesada Gardens family.

Congratulations, Craig, both on the new direction and on being featured by PETA as being among the top five food trucks.

“Green Goatee” of Quesada Gardens passes

Tony loved animals of all sorts.  He is shown here with a newly-adopted cat in a Bayview Footprints photo dated July 2012.
Tony loved animals of all sorts. He is shown here with a newly-adopted cat in a Bayview Footprints photo dated July 2012.

Neighbors at the Quesada Gardens were saddened to learn that Tony Tarket, known around Quesada Gardens as “The Green Goatee,” passed away in June at the out-of-state home of his sister.  He had been diagnosed with throat cancer shortly after his partner Tom Galante passed away in October of last year.

See much more about Tony’s  many contributions to Quesada Gardens Initiative and the neighbors he served.

Please share your remembrances of Tony with a comment here  or on “Quesada Gardens” Facebook page.

Tony was a Master Gardener, and was always willing to share knowledge...as he is shown doing at Quesada Gardens in this photo by his partner, Tom Galante.
Tony was a Master Gardener, and was always willing to share knowledge…as he is shown doing at Quesada Gardens in this photo by his partner, Tom Galante.
Photo: Bayview Footprints
Photo: Bayview Footprints

 

Tony demonstrates planting techniques to a group of USF service-learners.  Photo: Bayview Footprints
Tony demonstrates planting techniques to a group of USF service-learners. Photo: Bayview Footprints
Tony was excited to find a healthy garter snake at the 3rd Street end of the Quesada Garden back in 2003.  Photo: Bayview Footprints
Tony was excited to find a healthy garter snake at the 3rd Street end of the Quesada Garden back in 2003. Photo: Bayview Footprints
Tony loved to play "dress up."  He and Tom hosted Quesada Gardens' Halloween event in 2008.  Photo: Bayview Footprints
Tony loved to play “dress up.” He and Tom hosted Quesada Gardens’ Halloween event in 2008. Photo: Bayview Footprints
Tony was pictured in a SF Examiner article about the Bridgeview Garden written by John Upton.
Tony was pictured in a SF Examiner article about the Bridgeview Garden written by John Upton.

Spring and Easter are local affairs in Bayview

Ava with Easter teeth
Ava finds a fun new use for Easter candy. Photo: Footprints

Easter and Spring may be worldwide events, but both are celebrated with local flavor here in Bayview.

Family-friendly events in the neighborhood included a long-running egg hunt at India Basin, a first-time event at All Good Pizza, and a bit of colorful fun at Quesada Gardens.

All Good Easter worms
Who needs eggs when you can have an Easter Worm? Dylan and Takate got the memo at All Good Pizza. Photo: Leah Pimentel
Dylan and John
John Davilla, Quesada Gardens member (and father of Meah), led the egg coloring on Saturday and the hunt on Sunday. Photo: Footprints
Meah Zack and Ava
Meah and Ava dressed for the occasion. Zack watches. Photo: Footprints
Meah wins gold
Golden eggs contained “yoke” you could take to the store. There were only two, and Meah got one! Photo: Footprints
takate
Takate was good at finding eggs … not that anyone was counting. Photo: Footprints