In 1990 we started with a vacant lot and an idea. What if we tried to teach everyone in San Francisco to garden? What would happen?

During one of the longest droughts in California history, from 1986-1992, a group of gardeners saw an opportunity to help. They wanted to teach residents of San Francisco and the Bay Area to be more climate resilient by replacing lawns and water-intensive gardens with native and drought tolerant plants, without sacrificing beauty. Garden for the Environment was born in the summer of 1990 as San Francisco’s dedicated site for gardening and composting education.

A tiny demo garden in the fog-swept Inner Sunset just might be the center of the Bay Area’s urban green thumb movement.
— Sunset Magazine, April 2012

We began by offering gardening workshops for adults and school field trip programs for youth, and then in 1996 launched the Get Up! Program. Our garden is designed and intended primarily for education, so we encourage students of all ages to prune our shrubs, rip up underperforming garden areas, and plant new seeds and seedlings. There are no mistakes, and this gives our students the freedom to practice what they learn in a real garden.

Garden for the environment,  looking north , 2017

Garden for the environment, looking north, 2017

Garden for the environment,  looking north,  1992

Garden for the environment, looking north, 1992

Our students have started urban farm projects, dozens of school gardens and successfully advocated for urban agriculture legislation. Our students know how to compost.  Our students use less water in their landscapes. Our students grow their own salads. Our students are leading the urban agriculture movement across the Bay Area.

Our long history has allowed us to have a broad environmental impact by teaching a range of practical gardening, urban agriculture, and landscaping skills so that residents can contribute to San Francisco’s unique local ecosystem. Our hands-on approach builds environmental awareness in children and empowers adults to make environmentally responsible choices in their garden and beyond. In addition to educating and training San Franciscans through our various programs, we maintain thousands of ornamental and edible plants with the help of our students and volunteers.

Garden for the environment,  looking south , 1915

Garden for the environment, looking south, 1915