Is there anyone out there who would like to purchase a 3/4 acre parcel in San Francisco with interest in leasing to Little City Gardens?
203 Cotter is for sale. The current property owner has faced an uphill battle in his attempts to develop the property, and it is now officially on the market. Over the past couple of months, with the help of an invaluable friend and advisor, Karen Heisler, I’ve been working diligently to try to guide this parcel into the hands of someone or some group who might be interested in purchasing the land with intentions of allowing it to remain a farm (and with the implementation of AB551 in San Francisco coming soon, this prospect is much more feasible). The value of the investment is unconventional. It’s a large amount of money for a very minimal financial return, as its no surprise that farming will never be a use that can offer a property owner significant profits.
If there’s one thing we’ve observed in our years of doing this it’s that urban farming needs support. We’ve always aimed to be a self-sufficient farm operation, relying on no outside funding. But a reality that’s become increasingly clear is that small-scale farming of any kind is most often subsidized in some form or another, whether it’s a non-profit organization that is funded through grants or donations, or a small commercial farm that is subsidized by the farmers’ off-farm work, or just through very cheap or volunteer labor. After 3 1/2 years of running this farm business, we’ve accomplished what I like to think of as real successes — relationships with neighbors, the ability to share valuable observations about farming on this scale, an inspired community of supporters both near and far, as well as an amendment to local tax code and the passing of a state law that I hope will prove to be a real support to the urban ag movement. But the fact remains that it’s near impossible to operate a viable, financially self-sufficient farm business in an increasingly expensive city like San Francisco without support from somewhere. Growing and selling healthy, accessible food and flowers and value-added goods sounds simple until the realities of shaky land tenure and land costs in a city like San Francisco are factored in.
Although challenging for those of us working the soil, I continue to feel so strongly that the pursuit of viable urban ag is as worthwhile as ever, and that the realities of our particular situation set the stage for a really unique opportunity. I’m hopeful that urban farming will eventually be considered a common, important part of our cities’ landscapes, but while we all work to get it there, this era of urban ag incubation calls for investment, extra support and creative collaboration. The purchase of this property, by an individual, a group of individuals, or by a larger entity, is an opportunity to contribute to the development of what urban farming could be in a unique place like San Francisco.