March 12, 2015
I discovered the community garden on this visit to Fort Mason, having missed it the first time I stayed at the hostel. I walked in, looking around for possible subjects, and didn’t notice the thin man in a puffy pink tee shirt with matching pink sneakers and pink garden gloves, until I almost ran into him. I said, “you look bew-tee-full”, and he said “thankyouverymuch”. I think he enjoyed the exchange and I know I did.
The Man in Pink, on "his" bench.
The plaque by the gate reads, “Fort Mason Community Garden, A Garden for Public Viewing, Founded 1976”. The garden is located below the hostel, set into the hillside on the south side, away from the bay. The pull of the spectacular 180º water view is powerful, with familiar landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel and Alcatraz Islands and Fisherman’s Wharf, making one feel that the relationship of Fort Mason is almost exclusively with the bay. From this vantage point in the opposite direction, looking toward Pacific Heights, I had a wide view one seldom gets from within a city, and I could feel how the topography related to the land as much as to the water. And I realized how much I’d forgotten of the city in which I’d been born, but had spent so little of my adult life. I felt that would have to change while there was still time.
The garden occupies 7,000 square feet, with most of the 125 individual plots measuring about 5 feet by 10 feet. Gardeners may apply for plots at a rate of $80 a year, but must get in line on what’s been referred to as its “notoriously long waiting list”, about 8 years. There’s no limit to the time gardeners in good standing may cultivate their plots, organic methods are encouraged, pesticides forbidden, and the resulting abundance of flowers and vegetables, even so early in the season, made me very glad I’d happened on this place.
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