Jan 30, 2013

Community workday February 9: It's finally planting time

Our next community workday is Saturday, February 9, at our usual time and location. Good news: we will be ready to plant into the rain garden that awaits us in the area just north of the playground. Tools and gloves (adult sizes, Small-XL) will be provided.

Panhandle Community Workday
Saturday, February 9
9 am - 12 noon 
Gather near the restroom ( Oak @ Ashbury)

I am asking for extra help this month: please email me if you have some experience with planting and can be a planting leader (please send me your name even if you've already told me). The planting leaders will get a run-through of our planting methods for this specific area, and then will coach two or three other people to make sure the job is done well. Planting leaders need to be available from 9 am - 11 am.

The rain garden is an important component of our capital project, funded by San Francisco residents through the Community Opportunity Fund. We are bringing native California plants for our rain garden, and have selected species that should thrive in the partly shady, damp conditions. The initial (re)planting of an area like this is very exciting, and when you visit the park in the future, you will be able to see the plants you put in the ground grow and mature.

Does it seem like a long wait since we submitted our proposal for the Community Opportunity Fund in 2010? The capital improvement project is almost complete, according to city staff. Fences will be left in place for two months in order to help new grass get established. One issue that has complicated the completion of the project is a classic Panhandle problem that has irked countless neighbors over the years: pathways lined with mud, puddles, and tire ruts. Fortunately, some additional work to improve the condition of the Ashbury path has been ordered and should be done in the next couple of weeks.

Back in 2010, I looked at the problems with our pathways by conducting initial and followup assessments of every cross-over path in the Panhandle. I found fewer ruts and puddles over a 3-month time span between winter and spring. Because pathway conditions have seemed to improve, I haven't conducted another park wide assessment since then. We are making progress, and I credit our gardening staff for caring about and trying to find solutions, and our volunteers at community workdays who scoop mud and weeds from paths, and even Recology workers who now keep their trucks on Oak and Fell when fetching trash bins from the park. There are surely other helpful factors, too. We're seeing these improvements despite frequently having heavy trucks in the park (e.g., targeted tree removals in 2012, installation of traffic control devices at Masonic).

At Ashbury, however, this problem has persisted. A year and a half ago, park staff devised a short-term fix for the north side by laying down a mosaic of chunks of concrete. And about a month ago, in keeping with the circulation design that was a component of the capital improvement project, the westside Ashbury pathway leading from Fell St was widened. However, this winter the conditions on the Ashbury path leading south towards Oak St worsened, with a combination of puddles, compacted soil, and even broken asphalt. That part of the pathway is not really car or truck-accessible due to the presence of lightpoles & utility boxes near the street, and that path has not been widened. The additional work to be done in the next few weeks should improve the conditions so that the outcome of our capital improvement project isn't compromised by problems in that area.

Some related good news in the neighborhood: For residents interested in a community garden, the "New Liberation" Church community garden (Divisadero near Eddy) is making a comeback! If you want to help, and possible earn a garden plot of your own, check out the effort by Neighbors Developing Divisadero and join a "Garden Party" on Saturday February 16. You can find out more at their Facebook event page.

Jan 12, 2013

Thank you! Today was awesome at the Panhandle

Once again we had sun and fun working at the Panhandle for the Second Saturday. Two truckfuls of compost fines and two truckfuls of wood chip mulch were waiting for us, but first we entered the capital project area for a pre-work group photo:

Earlier this month I had thought we would be ready to begin our planting project this month, but the groundwork (the contractor's work) is just not quite done, so planting will wait for next month. February is still the rainy season and a very good month for planting in San Francisco.

We headed east to the cheesewood forest, between Lyon and Central on the Oak Street side. Thankfully, we had large numbers of fourth graders to aid in the pitchfork, wheelbarrow, rake brigade. The faster we scooped, the more the warm compost steamed in the morning sun.

We got the bulk of the work done by breaktime, and many of our workers were off to basketball games and piano lessons. A core group stayed to finish the last ton or so. We gathered in the dappled sunlight underneath our local tropical forest to pose again.

Thanks, Dad, for the photo