Alemany Farm

by Aaron Stafford, Data Engineer


Nestled between San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood and the roaring 280 freeway sits Alemany Farm, a three-acre agricultural gem bustling year round with bounties of organic vegetables, fruits, native plants, herbs, birds and bees. The herb garden, like the rest of the farm is 100% volunteer powered—a labor of love from it’s many regular volunteers and continually rotating cast of newbies and old friends. The slideshow captures the spirit of the garden, with its many plants and volunteers, as well as some of the common tasks carried out on weekend workdays.


Borage is a plant well suited to the climate and does not require much additional water or special care. The flowers and leaves are edible, and when the sun is out, you’ll often find them filled with happy honey bees and other pollinators. Volunteers plant borage seedlings started in the greenhouse.
A volunteer taps dried borage flowers on the ground to collect the seeds. The seeds will later be planted in the greenhouse.
Some of the borage seeds collected weeks before are now coming up and looking healthy.
Inside the greenhouse, young helpers sow seeds in trays. After a month in the climate-controlled environment most seeds will germinated and be ready to be planted in the garden.
Love-In-A-Mist plants make great bedding plants and can be used as cut flowers. These seeds were started in the greenhouse. After six weeks of seeding, they show a good germination rate. After a few more weeks, they will be ready to be planted in the ground outside.
The drip irrigation system allows water to slowly absorb into the ground and minimizes the amount of water lost to evaporation and runoff. This type of system is easy to extend and reconfigure depending on the irrigation needs.
Like any garden, pulling weeds and keeping things tidy takes up a fair amount of time. "Sheet mulching" is technique used to keep paths clear and free of weeds. A layer of cardboard is spread out and covered with an additional layer of woodchips.
Gathering a harvest bouquet at the end of the day.
Fruits of volunteer labor.
A full view of the garden with the freeway in the background.