Healthy Lifestyles

Urban farming in Hunters Point

Growing organic produce for our community

In 1997, Hunters Point Family started the Healthy Lifestyles program in response to the health and environmental conditions that directly impact our children and their families in the Bayview Hunters Point community.

Today, the Healthy Lifestyles program is changing community culture and helping youth to develop marketable skills by creating a healthy food supply for the Bayview Hunters Point community.

Each year, youth workers distribute over 1,000 pounds of food to workers and residents of the surrounding public housing developments.

The first HPF garden was coordinated by the late Sylvia Simmons. Mama Sylvia (as she was known in the neighborhood) was an advocate of intergenerational community gardening and the inspiration for the agency’s community stewardship model.

Based on Miss Sylvia’s early advocacy, Hunters Point Family now supports the following businesses, classes and trainings at three Hunters Point Family gardens, Alice Griffith, Adam Rogers and Palou Collaborative :

  • HPF Free Food Pantry (Harbor Road)
  • HPF youth-run fruit delivery business (Somethin’ Fresh)
  • HPF Permiculture Certificate program (a collaboration with Earth Activist Training)
  • Weekly nutrition cooking classes

Hunters Point Family also offers classes and employment in basic urban organic farming for younger youth involved in GIRLS 2000, Bayview Safe Haven, Peacekeepers and Gilman Rec-Connect. Young adults (ages 17-25) may participate in advanced certificated courses for permaculture and green house methods through the Ujamaa program’s Employment and Entrepreneurship Division. From here, many of our youths go on to pursue careers in horticulture at local green houses, the San Francisco Department of Public Works, and Friends of the Urban Forest.

The Healthy Lifestyles Program focuses on the following:

Organic gardening

  • Teaching the benefits of organic gardening over conventional methods
  • Composting techniques

Ecology

  • Recycling processes
  • Positive effects of trees and plants on the environment (atmosphere, soil, animals)
  • Connection with the Earth: rhythms of the seasons and growth cycles of plants and animals

Community

  • Promotion of healthy eating in the community
  • Sense of responsibility running the Food Pantry and fruit delivery business
  • Community stewardship through educating and feeding the community with living, organic produce

The Gardens

Every Saturday, Hunters Point Family youths working in our organic farms distribute the fresh-picked produce they’ve grown: squash, carrots, eggplant, bell peppers, sweet peas, mustard greens, bok choy, collards and all kinds of fruit. The junior farmers deliver door to door to individuals and families in the community. Home deliveries and face-to-face exchanges give green-thumbed youths an opportunity to share their knowledge with neighbors, passing on tips for nutrition and healthy eating choices, and the many benefits of organic gardening.

The People

Meet Miss Jackie

A warm smile and hearty handshake greet visitors at the gate to the Alice Griffith Farm. “Hello, I’m Miss Jackie, nice to meet you!” she says with an earthy laugh.

Today Miss Jackie is leading visitors through the 2.5-acre garden. “Watch your step,” she cautions, making her way from a mud and straw-cob oven (for baking organic bread and pizzas) to planters of shiny tomatoes plumping in the sun. Under a sky of infinite blue the heat here rivals any summer day in the Central Valley, enough to grow a small orchard of lush fig, plum, apple, loquat, lemon and pear trees fringing this organic garden at the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

With hard work and guidance from Miss Jackie, the HPF farm produces enough vegetables and fruits to feed a community year round. The garden is also an outdoor classroom for HPF youth who have achieved a certain level of accountability in one of the HPF programs:  Girls 2000, Bayview Safe Haven, Peacekeepers or Gilman Rec Connect. Through gardening, participants learn about healthy food choices, responsibility and teamwork, community stewardship, recycling, composting, and the cycle of the seasons.

“Come by and see me again,” says Miss Jackie. “The tomatoes will be ready soon.”