Garden History

Aerial view of the garden during construction of Highway 101

A view up to McKinley Square park and Vermont St

Long before Highway 101 was built, this land was an open, grassy space overlooking the Mission and the Golden Gate. Older residents like Eddie Lovrin remember playing nearby as children, when this hill was dotted with grazing goats owned by the “Goat Lady” one door down.

In 1969, a local Potrero Hill teacher created the first garden here to educate grade school children. For two years, students learned the basics of planting, watering, weeding and harvesting fresh food. The program, which was funded by HUD, was not renewed in the third year.

By 1971 two Potrero Hill residents, a meticulous Italian gardener and a Filipino who could grow anything, had begun squatter’s gardens on this land.

Lorraine Vinson, one of the founding gardeners, has had a plot here fore more than 30 years. She remembers that the gardeners began meeting as a group around 1972. The land, owned by the Recreation and Parks Department, has been a part of the Community Garden Program for many years. Each of the fifty plots is tended by neighbors using only organic methods and the gardeners commit to sharing the upkeep of the common areas, shade garden, and the sidewalk landscapes.

We welcome you to visit our garden, one of the few open and unlocked Community Gardens in our city. We trust that you will enjoy the beauty and the view, but please resist the temptation to pick our flowers or produce. Many of us toil for months to produce vegetables that we depend on to help us feed our families.