Garden for the Environment is a 1/2 acre education and demonstration garden in the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. Our mission since 1990 has been to teach sustainable gardening practices and are the only garden in San Francisco solely dedicated to this goal.
We took over a desolate and vacant lot in 1990 and began growing a vibrant demonstration garden that is designed to inspire and educate youth and adults. We envision a city full of living things that celebrates our coastal environment with smart plant choices and practical garden design.
Explore our distinct demonstration gardens. We hope to inspire you!
WATER WISE GARDEN
Our garden celebrates San Francisco's unique summer-dry climate. Our cities should be full of lush spaces where rainwater can permeate the ground. As California continues to suffer from a drought, we encourage people to plant things that will thrive without a lot of water. Want to know what grows well here? Ask us or come wander through our demonstration gardens. Many of our plants are labeled with helpful and necessary information, while informational signage explains how we design our space.
Compost education has been the heart of our garden since we opened in 1990. We know that healthy soil is the key to healthy plants. Adding compost is the best way to improve soil, conserve water, and close the environmental loop. Teaching compost is our mission, and we have staff on site who cannot wait to introduce you to the magic of 'black gold'. We offer a free compost class the first Saturday of every month. Sign up here!
Tucked away on our hillside are 48 heirloom apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots, apriums, lemons, and figs. Over many years, our team has uncovered the best varieties to grow in our unique San Francisco climate.
We grow over 500 pounds of organic produce each year from 20 raised beds. Our vegetable beds demonstrate how to grow lots of food in a small space without synthetic fertilizers or harmful pesticides. Each week, volunteers harvest our fresh produce and donate it to a local youth shelter as part of our Harvest program.
CALIFORNIA NATIVE plants
Living in an area with extreme water shortages makes collecting the water we do get all the more important. Our garden hosts a rainwater harvesting system, collecting runoff from our greenhouse and storing it for those long, dry summer months. Imagine all the water we could collect if each roof in our city collected the winter rains instead of letting them drain into the gutter!
California native plants require little to no additional water and thrive in our local climate. Our wild and uncultivated native hillsides provide habitat for bugs, birds, butterflies and special native bees that keep our native ecosystem in order. With so many beneficial insects and critters, we are able to have a healthy and balanced garden.
We teach over 100 workshops per year, from adult public programs, to youth trips to larger training programs designed to educate community leaders. And we do it all in our two outdoor classrooms. The best part of our classes? Often hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and even hawks will stop by to learn as well.
Why let perfectly good water go to waste? We use biodegradable hand soap so that all the runoff from our garden sink can drain right back into the ground, quenching the thirst of water-loving native plants that line our fence. Graywater makes the most of our limited resources, using water a second time and returning it to the ground instead of letting it into the sewer.