New SF company a locavore's dream

August 31, 2009 7:31:14 AM PDT
How would you like to have all the benefits of a backyard vegetable garden without having to do all the weeding, trimming and labor yourself? A San Francisco company is tapping into the growing number of people who want their food grown locally, but with someone else providing the elbow grease.

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It was recently harvest day in a backyard garden in the Marina District. But, the people doing the harvesting were not the homeowners and they were not gardeners in the traditional sense. They work for a company called MyFarm.

"MyFarm is a decentralized urban farm. We install gardens in backyards all over San Francisco," explained MyFarm President Trevor Paque.

They do not just install them. Their farmers do the planting, the weeding, pest control and the harvest. The homeowner gets a bag full of fresh, locally-grown produce.

"The idea came when I was sitting on top of Bernal Heights looking out over the city, and I was thinking about this problem we have where it takes more energy to produce our food than we get in return from the food we eat," said Pacque.

"It means there's a lot less fossil fuels involved, you know? We're not having our food trucked in from the Central Valley and that's very important to our family," said customer Melanie Wise.

It is a locavore's dream, but not necessarily a farmer's dream. Because of the climate in San Francisco not everything will grow in the City.

"Because we're so coastal, we're really limited to certain varieties that we can grow and how fast they produce," farmer Courtney Everette explained.

In the Marina, turnips, lettuce and green beans thrive. Andrew Dietz's house in the Outer Richmond there is plenty of direct sun, so tomatoes and kale are among the crops there.

"I think it's important to know where your food comes from. I thought it was really great just to have a place where you could come and sit, and listen, and also eat from it," he said.

Surplus vegetables from the gardens go into a big pool that all the clients share, which gives everyone access to foods their gardens may not be able to grow.

It is not cheap. Installing a garden can cost between $1,000 and $2,000. Clients also pay another $25 to $35 a week for the harvest and delivery. But, more than 100 homeowners have decided it is worth it to save on fossil fuel, live greener and of course, enjoy flavor not often found in supermarket produce.

"There's nothing like getting a fresh carrot out of the ground. They picked them this morning and then we get to eat them this afternoon," said one customer.

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