Archive for May, 2010

Alcatraz Gardens

Angel Island is a place of so much history and beauty and one of the things that’s always intrigued me is the garden plots on Angel Island that were used by Alcatraz prison as a source of fresh produce, since there was insufficient soils on Alcatraz for any sort of agriculture.   The first “Alcatraz Garden” was located at the present site of Camp Reynolds. In later years Alcatraz Gardens moved to the south side of Angel Island, where military prisoners from Alcatraz were brought over by steamer to work in the gardens. In 1876 the cultivated area was described as being twelve acres in size and “roughly fenced”. It was worked by a detail of four men. In the dry season water was furnished by a damned pond in one of the ravines above the garden site. These gardens not only furnished fresh produced for Alcatraz but vegetables were also sold to other military installations around the bay and on occasion to markets in San Francisco. The gardens remained in production until Alcatraz became a federal penitentiary in 1934. Potatoes, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Onions, Lettuc, Carrots, Beets and wild flowers are some of the crops known to have been grown on the island. This year the cafe began working an abandoned garden plot at Camp Reynolds, planting and cultivating the original Alcatraz Garden crops. The garden is 100 percent organic andwith a little help from Teddy Giacommini’s awesome organic cow poop our garden is thriving. We hope to be able to harvest our first salad crop in a month or so. Look for it on the special board in the cafe.