Within our neighborhood's own urban jungle that is the Hayes Valley Farm (HVF) sits a wooden shack just spitting distance from the intersection of Laguna and Fell.
This hut, resembling a human-sized birdhouse, is the home for the Hayes Valley branch of the SF Seed Library, a local program for SF residents to borrow and donate seeds.
"The idea with seed library, as with many seed libraries, is that you will take the seed for the process of planting and working with the soil and environment," Daniel Farnan, a HVF volunteer, mentioned during our visit to the farm. You're then encouraged to "[contribute] the seeds back if you have a successful crop."
The SF Seed Library is a volunteer-only project of TransitionSF, SF Public Library Green Stacks Program, and the Permaculture Guild. Currently, only two branches exist: one in Hayes Valley, and one at the San Francisco Public Library in Potrero Hill. According to SF Seed Library's website, "At this time, our branches carry different seeds, but it is our goal to have each Seed Library branch have a complete set of plants that do well in the neighborhood the library is in."
The library has put together a handy-dandy seed catalog and planting calendar to determine what to plant (and when to plant it) in your corner of the city. For Hayes Valley, the branch's stock of flora ranges from sunflowers to melons. Their website goes on to say: "With our climate, timing is important. Also, not every plant will do well in each neighborhood."
If you do borrow seeds at the HVF branch, the library asks that you follow its checkout procedure and let them know how the harvest faired. They also encourage you to return the seeds that your crop yields back to the branch to keep the branch stocked and the cycle going.
“Tell them how the crop went,” Daniel explained. “The idea being that you return the seeds back as a gesture of your commitment to the community.”
“The general public reaction has been rather positive,” Daniel noted. “The fact that it is an official branch of the SF Seed Library is pretty cool for what is essentially has been understood as an interim use project, but as a part of extending a sense of culture at this level of community and to the world of urban agriculture is pretty cool to see.”
If this branch of the seed library piques your interest, think about using local ingredients for your Thanksgiving feast next year. In the meantime, you can visit the HVF on Wednesdays and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm. Happy harvestin', y'all!