City Gardens Series: Caitlyn Galloway and the Greenhouse Project, Part 1

There's an unused square block in the Portola District that's Ground Zero in the fight over land in San Francisco.

In this podcast, we learn all about the Greenhouse Project. Volunteer Caitlyn Galloway shares some of the history of the block bordered by Woolsey, Bowdoin, Wayland, and Hamilton streets as well as the efforts underway to reclaim the area as a green space in The City's southeast side.

Then we hear about Caitlyn's life and how she got to this moment. She was born in Union City and raised there and in Livermore, where she went to high school. Her extended family has been in the East Bay for several generations.

Once she was old enough to ride BART without an adult, she and her cousin would come into San Francisco to go shopping around the Powell station. When it was time to go to college, she chose Santa Barbara. Despite a lot of what Caitlyn calls "sameness" there, she found pockets of people she could relate to, people who had different ways of living—punks, hippies, folks who worked at co-ops.

Caitlyn started working at a food co-op in Santa Barbara around the same time she began to garden there. She was still in school and all of these activities started to shape Caitlyn's worldview, especially around food and land.

After graduation, she moved to New York City, partly to get away and partly to ready herself for a move to San Francisco. She found work as a gardener at a landscaping company, where she worked on rich people's gardens around town. Caitlyn also worked on some green roofs in New York, well before the trend that would emerge later.

Two years into her time on the East Coast, she decided that it was time to come back to California. She missed a number of things—people, a smaller-city vibe. But perhaps more than anything else, California sagebrush drew Caitlyn back to her home state. There was no question of where in the state she'd be.

​Upon landing in San Francisco in 2007, Caitlyn apprenticed at New Bohemia Signs, a hand-painted sign shop based in the South of Market neighborhood. Through her work there, she met and befriended someone who was gardening and growing vegetables in a backyard in the Mission. Caitlyn soon joined her new friend in gardening.

We end Part 1 with a detour of sorts, when Jeff and Caitlyn discover that they were neighbors 15 years ago or so.

Please join us for Part 2 and the final new episode of Season 4 this Thursday.

We recorded this podcast at the Greenhouse Project in the Portola in April 2022.

Photography by Jeff Hunt

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