Bayview-Hunters Point, California, a site of nuclear contamination, is one of the biggest environmental injustices in United States history, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. To address the environmental and health risks of the area, community members are working together to create the organic urban farm, Dragonspunk Grows.
After the Cold War, the U.S. Navy decontaminated ships in Bayview-Hunters Point, spreading radioactive waste throughout the area. The pollution from this process has led to elevated cancer rates and environmental pollution, according to the Greater Bay Cancer Registry.
Inspired by Florence Fang Asian Community Garden, Bayview community members Isaiah Powell, Faheem Carter, and Danielle Fernandez collaborated to start their own neighborhood garden. Through a GoFundMe campaign, they have raised awareness, money, and volunteer support to create a farm that provides fresh produce to the community and local restaurants.
Powell and volunteers grow sunflowers and clovers which aid in phytoremediation, the use of plants, and microorganisms to remove toxins from the soil. They also compost material from the farm, trapping a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere.
Powell also says he hopes to address food security in the neighborhood, a site of food apartheid, where lack of fresh affordable food is driven by social and economic issues. The process of remediating the land allows the farm “to produce quality food in perpetuity,” says Powell.
“The community is coming together to identify the people that are most food insecure and getting the food to them,” Powell tells Food Tank. “We are partnering with Vegan Hood Chefs, SF Produce Market, Alemany Farm, Mother Brown Food Bank. These partnerships serve to amplify the work that each organization is doing.”
Dragonspunk Grows hopes to have a fully operational garden program by Fall 2020. The project will join the other sustainable garden projects in the area, including the Quesada Gardens Initiative and Alemany Farm.
“The farm provides a physical and psychological benefit to the community,” Powell tells Food Tank. “Before the plot was a blight, something residents would look away from, now, the farm inspires pride in the residents of the community.”
Photo courtesy of Jon Harrison