Photography by Jeff Hunt
Our City Gardens series continues with a visit to Sisterhood Gardens. Located on Brotherhood Way (get it?) in the OMI area of southwest San Francisco, the garden was established in 2016.
In this podcast, we meet master gardener and Sisterhood volunteer Jamie Chan. In addition to her work at Sisterhood, Jamie teaches at SF State, where she's also a doctoral student.
Jamie shares her story with us. A fourth-generation San Franciscan, she traces her family's history in The City back to the Gold Rush era. Over the years, her ancestors lived mostly in Chinatown, but eventually, they all moved to the Sunset and Richmond. Jamie grew up near Stern Grove and went to SFUSD schools.
Her parents grew up in Chinatown, where they knew each other growing up. The two reconnected while at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and got married after graduation.
Today, Jamie trains public school teachers (her husband happens to be a teacher, too). As a teenager, she went to School of the Arts and was interested in telling people's stories. She studied documentary film and made movies about ABC (American-born Chinese) identity. She went to art school at CalArts in SoCal but didn't like it. So she came back and went to SF State, where she studied biology.
After graduation, Jamie worked at California Academy of Sciences and became interested in education. She and her husband got their home through a city program—an acquisition that came with a yard bigger than the house.
She started gardening there after having kids and found herself wanting to connect with food and food systems as a mom. That led to a master gardener program at UC.
Jamie helped found Sisterhood Gardens in 2016, The land is owned by SF Department of Public Works, who landscaped the space and got water running before turning it over to neighborhood volunteers.
We end Part 1 with Jamie's thoughts about still being here in San Francisco.
In Part 2, we continue our visit at Sisterhood Gardens and our series on City Gardens, meeting Sisterhood volunteer Tim Wong. Tim shares his life story with us. He grew up on the Peninsula and moved to The City in 2016. This coincided with the founding of Sisterhood Gardens.
Tim grew up in an area replete with butterflies, something he was drawn to from a young age. He was interested in the insects and their relationship with plants. His earliest memories of coming to San Francisco involve his grandparents, who lived in the Sunset. His school took the kids to the California Academy of Sciences, which we'll get back to in a moment. Tim was in The City almost every weekend.
He never necessarily envisioned himself living in San Francisco. After high school, he moved to San Diego to go to UCSD, where he studied environmental systems, ecology, and evolution as well as marine science. He was aiming toward marine biology. Through school, he worked in an aquarium, which later led to his volunteering at Cal Academy of Sciences.
Today, Tim works at the academy in its rainforest exhibit. As we're discussing his various rolls at work, we take a detour to hear some of the places Tim has dived, including off the shore here in Northern California.
Tim says he's drawn to his work at the academy and the garden because of the sense of community and giving back. We end this podcast with Tim's thoughts on what it means to still be here.
If you'd like to volunteer at Sisterhood or get involved somehow, please visit their website.
We recorded this podcast at Sisterhood Gardens in Oceanview in March 2022.