Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
NYC hip-hop artist turned SF city gardener? Why the hell not?
In Part 1, Dragonspunk Grows gardener Isaiah Powell charts the early stories of his life's journey. His family moved all over the East Coast when he was young. He went to four different high schools, then got into the University of Miami immediately as a 17-year-old. At such a young age, Isaiah didn't take college seriously and he soon dropped out.
He went back to New York City and started to pursue a career in hip-hop. After eventually graduating from Columbia University and getting and losing a number of jobs, a fellow Columbia student friend recommended that Isaiah move to California to work on a farm near Santa Cruz. Toward the end of his stay there, he met Danielle online. And when he returned to New York, the two moved in together.
They decided to move to the Bay Area after learning they could live in a house that Danielle's family owned. Danielle moved first, then Isaiah came out a few months later. He soon started volunteering at the Florence Fang Asian Community Garden, which was just down the hill from his home. And that work was the inspiration for what eventually became Dragonspunk Grows.
The story of Dragonspunk Grows, the Black-owned organic farm in the Bayview, starts with the Chinese community.
In Part 2, Isaiah takes us on a tour of Florence Fang community garden. Isaiah's work at the garden inspired him to join forces with Faheem Carter, to carve out a large section of the existing land to establish Dragonspunk Grows. It started out with their wanting to grow food for themselves and their neighbors, due to the area's status as a food desert.
This June, Isaiah's fiancée, Danielle, suggested that they dedicate a row of vegetables to honor the life of George Floyd, who was murdered by Minneapolis cops in May.
As for the future of Dragonspunk Grows, Isaiah and Danielle see their part in this as more of a service than a specific plot of land. They hope to replicate the model in other gardens, starting in the Bayview. You can help them reach their goals by donating to their Go Fund Me today.
We recorded this podcast at Dragonspunk Grows in July 2020. Special thanks to Erin Lim of Bitch Talk Podcast for letting us know about Isaiah and the garden.