by Minister of Information JR Valrey
In Bayview Hunters Point, Isaiah Powell and his crew have created the first and only Black run farmers’ market in the city’s known history. It is every Thursday from 3 to 7:30 p.m. at the Southeast Community Center, 1550 Evans Ave., in the parking lot.
Health is wealth. We need to be thinking about our health, especially those of us living in highly polluted areas like Bayview Hunters Point, where PG&E, the Navy and other polluters have committed environmental crimes and have no intention of cleaning up the environment and paying the people reparations.
Isaiah Powell and his crew are involved in land restoration and growing food. They’re involved in implementing innovative non-toxic ways to clean up heavy metal pollution with phyto-remediation and myco-remediatiation in Hunters Point, which is a phenomenal feat. Check out what Isaiah Powell has to say about his crew’s work in one of the last predominantly Black neighborhoods in San Francisco.
JR Valrey: How long have you been into horticulture and land restoration? What started you on that journey?
Isaiah Powell: Four years. I was inspired by the need to grow nutrient dense food
JR Valrey: How long have you been doing this work in Hunters Point? And how did you get here?
Isaiah Powell: I’ve been doing the work in Bayview for four years. I moved here March 1, 2019.
JR Valrey: Can you talk a little bit about the farmers’ market in Bayview Hunters Point that you helped to establish? How long has it been around? What is your motivation for starting it?
Isaiah Powell: The Bayview Farmers Market at the new Southeast Community Center is the first and only Black-run farmers market in San Francisco. We have some of the best vendors in the area, many of them from Bayview. The market has been in existence for one month. The motivation is to stimulate the economy in District 10, provide healthy food, support local food systems and activate the Southeast Community Center.
JR Valrey: Where are the vendors from that participate in the farmers’ market? What kinds of vendors are invited to participate?
Isaiah Powell: The vendors come from Bayview, Fresno, Santa Cruz and Oakland. Dedicated, intelligent, committed and serious vendors are invited – produce vendors, artisans, flower sellers.
JR Valrey: Can you talk a little bit about your community garden on Palou? How long have you had iit? How did it start?
Isaiah Powell: It is a pollinator garden and laboratory. We have been there since 2021. It started by me cleaning it out and then planting and remediating after we did a soil test.
JR Valrey: What do you grow at the community garden?
Isaiah Powell: Mushrooms, kale, edible flowers, fruit trees, tomatoes.
JR Valrey: How do you deal with the soil being heavily contaminated in Hunters Point?
Isaiah Powell: Phyto and myco-remediation.
JR Valrey: What do you recommend that Hunters Point residents do if they want to plant into the ground? What do you recommend that anybody in the hood do before they start planting and eating the produce?
Isaiah Powell: I suggest building a raised bed and planting food crops in it. Plant sunflowers, mustard, geraniums to remove heavy metals from the soil.
JR Valrey: Can you talk about your quest to clean up Hunters Point using phyto-remediation and myco-remediation? Can you explain what these two disciplines are?
Isaiah Powell: I plan to use mushrooms and plants to remediate the soil in Bayview and teach interested students how to grow oyster mushrooms and spread the mycelium: small scale projects, big victories. Phyto-remediation: using plants to remediate the soil and environment. Myco-remediation: using mushrooms to remediate the soil and environment.
JR Valrey: If people want to get more information about the farmers’ market in Hunters Point or the community garden on Palou, where can they go?
Isaiah Powell: Go to the website or Instagram.
JR Valrey: How do people keep up with you online?
Isaiah Powell: Dragonspunk.org
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, is also the editor in chief of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. He teaches the Community Journalism class twice a week at the San Francisco Bay View newspaper office.