Jamie Chan, Gardens of Golden Gate Park & Fog City Gardener
What is your name and title?
Jamie M. Chan, Ed.D.
Director of Programs and Partnerships , Gardens of Golden Gate Park
Co-Owner, Fog City Gardener
What is your origin story? How did you find a career in botany and gardening?
I am a fourth generation San Franciscan, and I did not grow up with a relationship to gardening but always had a fascination with plants. I became a research biologist and a STEM teacher educator at San Francisco State University. There I realized that the connection to plants, wellness and climate advocacy had deep connections. I became a UCANR Master Gardener, founded a garden education firm Fog City Gardener and co-founded Sisterhood Gardens, a public food security garden in San Francisco’s Oceanview Merced Ingleside district. After my doctorate in educational leadership, I was hired to be director of programs and Partnerships at the Gardens of Golden Gate Park (which include Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden and San Francisco Botanical Garden). Thus, my career has come full circle in that I get to work each day Connecting People to Plants, the Planet, and Each Other.
What brings you joy when you are working on a day to day operations with Fog City Gardener and the Gardens of Golden Gate Park?
The opportunity to facilitate people’s connections to plants. Helping people learn diverse plant stories and develop their own relationship with plants is my greatest joy.
What three wishes do you have when it comes to the City of San Francisco and the way they interact with green spaces?
My three wishes:
1. That every San Franciscan has regular exposure to nature and plants from the day they are born.
2. That every San Franciscan has access to a garden to grow and strengthen their connections to plants, food systems and climate resilience.
3. That gardens, both public and private are used as places to catalyze social healing between diverse communities in San Francisco. Gardens are radical spaces for social transformation!
Tell us about the equity work happening within these organizations.
The Gardens of Golden Gate Park have a mission: "Connecting People to Plants, the Planet, and Each Other." We do this with an anti-racist and sustainable lens on our programs and operations. Reflected in all aspects, from the books we circulate in our horticultural library to our educational programs, our core values center around Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in public gardens.
At Fog City Gardener we partner with organizations such as Sisterhood Gardens/The Chinese Progressive Association and the SFPL to deliver the joy of gardening and environmental education to intergenerational communities across SF. We believe that everyone should have inspiration and access to gardening and homesteading. We hope that our public projects and educational workshops continue to encourage San Franciscans to grow plants and conserve our natural landscapes and biodiversity.
What are your favorite plants?
You can’t ask me that! I would say ALL 😊. But I do have a special place in my heart for dahlias. They are the official flower of San Francisco and my current obsession in the garden. They also come from my husband’s ancestral region of Mexico and easy to grow in our climate. They are as beautiful and diverse as the San Franciscans I meet each day.
What are your favorite snacks?
Anything with chocolate! Also a great plant product 😊
—Interview conducted August 2023
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