Homestead Skillshare Festival at Hayes Valley Farm

This weekend we galavanted off to the Hayes Valley Farm Homestead Skillshare Festival. There we discovered a vibrant array of homesteaders of all levels, chatting and exchanging information and smiles throughout the day. From cheese making to disaster preparedness, people of the Bay picked up skills that they may have never contemplated before. And with sliding scale donations or the timebank option, how could we stay away? Here’s an overview of some of the happenings.

We learned about East Bay Cohousing, a network of people who live harmoniously with each other and their environment within a cooperative community. Cooperative lifestyles encourage sharing, cultivate compassion, develop neighborhoods, and produce enormous benefit for all members. They offer a concrete solution for people wishing to transition to alternative lifestyles.

We attended a workshop by a member of Alemany Farm about year round gardening in San Francisco. Did you know it is possible to produce food 365 days of the year here due to our coastal Mediterranean microclimate? Plants like kale, collards, potatoes, beans, fava, and lettuce are common crops that can be grown any day in a SF garden. We learned about the importance of soil amendments, container gardening, pest management, and the importance of planning out succession crop rotation.

The Protero Hill Seed Library explained the importance of saving seed and how we need to regain this vital skill that is endangered, which in turn endangers our food supply. We networked with them due to our interest in starting a seed library and seed swap at the USF Community Garden. Good things are germinating.

We stumbled upon the Open Collaborative Encyclopedia. This book, openly written and edited similarly to Wikipedia, is an encyclopedia of open ways of collaboration. It is a useful guide on how to cultivate transparency, communication and sharing and reap the bountiful benefits. We are very excited to read more on their blog.

Fellow brewmakers from Shoe Shine Wine held a simple wine making workshop for those wanting to wet their whistle in home brewing. Check out the vineyard and the wine.

Other interesting things to check out:
Taproot Medicine, with a powerful Strong Woman Syrup handmade in Oakland. It “is an iron rich, nutrient dense herbal tonic” and part of a larger “movement towards true health care, helping others heal themselves with plant medicine.”
Green City Calendar from Planet Drum Foundation.
The always wonderful San Francisco Permaculture Guild.

When like-minded people from different backgrounds come together, energy and knowledge transfers and grows as everyone shares together. Events like these help disseminate knowledge and build community support around skills and lessons vital to the health and well being of everyone. We say the Hayes Valley Farm Homestead Skillshare Festival was a smashing success.

-Lily and Kristina

Thinking about homesteading opportunities for this summer…

My response to Karina Alexander, a USF student looking to do a story on urban homesteading opportunities on campus and beyond:

It is true that if you come for a Friday Workday at the USF Garden Project, which is anytime between Noonish – 4PM, there is a guarantee that you will walk away with some greens, flowers, herbs and the possibility that you may wish to stay longer or at least come back to learn and work more.

Besides our Friday Workdays, USF students can garden more and work with building sustainable communities through food, in a couple different ways:

1.  Buck Mountain Experimental Station USF Summer School 2012.
This summer USF’s Environmental Studies Program is hosting a homestead intensive from July 10 – 20 at buck mountain experimental station and Green Media, a media studies production course taught by David Silver, will be at BMES from July 24 – August 7.

2.  Fall 2012 Urban Agriculture Program classes.
ENVA 130:  Community Based Urban Agriculture (core E) with Justin Valone and/or ENVA 145:  Community Garden Outreach (SL) with Melinda Stone.  We also have for the first time, Introduction to Urban Agriculture taught by Rue Ziegler.

In addition to USF affiliated programs, there are plenty of other ways to dive deep into homesteading around the bay area and beyond.  WWOOFing is my number one choice but if you are around San Francisco check out these classes, places and events:  Homesteading Skill Share at Hayes Valley Farm, Saturday, May 26, awesome classes throughout the summer at Garden For the Environment, some (emphasis on some) reasonably priced and down-right good looking courses at 18 Reasons.  There is also the Institute of Urban Homesteading and the Regenerative Design Institute.  Permaculture Guild hosts a great SF garden volunteer calendar and San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance website and listserv are great portals to all things URAG in SF. seems to be an all-encompassing great site  about groovy food and homestead opportunities around the corner and around the globe.

Kristina, Nick and Grace serving up superb gleaned meals on April 10, 2012

Right now how-to homestead has a nifty show at Root Division and we are excited about the wonderful locally gleaned, absolutely free and delicious meals being served by members of the Radish Collective and the USF Environmental Studies Capstone course at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church.

Homestead Skillshare Festival at Hayes Valley Farm

Mark your calendar for this exciting festival in May.

Sat, May 26th from 10am-6pm
Hayes Valley Farm, 450 Laguna Street, SF

A festival to help educate, inspire and spread sustainable living and self-sufficiency skills.

Scheduled Workshops:
Cohousing, coops, and intentional communities, passive solar, worm bins, cob ovens, urban composting, worm composting, urban gardening in the Bay and container gardening, fruit trees, seed-saving, food preservation (incl. wine-making, pickling, miso, etc), water catchment and grey water recycling, disaster preparedness, herb growing, teas and tincture making, qi gong, bee-keeping and pollination, livestock (incl. ducks, chickens, horses and/or goats), sprouting, insects as food, mushroom cultivation, soap-making, natural dyes, candle-making, diy green cleaning, nonviolent communication, and more! (Habra traduccion en Espanol).

Admission: Ticketing on Eventbrite and at the door Payment of 2 hours donation to Hayes Valley Farm and/or $20 donation to the BACE Timebank. Kids are free, families welcome. Free & donation-based food onsite and benefit dinner at end of Festival. Rain or shine. No refunds.

Co-sponsored by: the BACE Timebank, Hayes Valley Farm, SF Permaculture Guild, Cohousing California, SF Urban Agriculture Alliance, PODER (SF), Occupy SF Sustainability Working Group, the Urban Homesteading Institute, Transition SF,KitchenGarden SF, SF Bee-Cause, the Connection Action Project, SF Free School, ust One Tree and more! Please contact mira at for more info.