Matt Baume

Matt Baume is a writer and photographer in San Francisco, focusing on the science of cities. From hybrid transit to urban frogs to underground rivers to invisible airborne toxins, he dives into the amazing discoveries that make city life possible. Growing up in rural Connecticut, he learned to appreciate nature; striking out in downtown Boston, he learned to appreciate density; and settling in California, he learned to appreciate weirdos. You can follow his work at


Salt of the earth: Environmentalists and urbanists collide in San Francisco Bay [UPDATED]

In a collection of salt evaporation ponds tucked between a freeway, a sleepy little marina, and the headquarters of Dreamworks Animation, the San Francisco Bay’s ecological future hangs in the balance. The ponds themselves look deceptively blank: Vast flat rectangles of shallow water once used by Cargill to produce salt, the two-and-a-quarter square miles are fenced-off and nearly featureless, like an enormous bank of flattened solar panels. To the west is Bair Island, itself a former salt pond. After four years of restoration, veiny tributaries and puffs of native scrub have begun to reemerge, drawing threatened species like the California …

Thank you very mulch

Bayview Greenwaste provides fertile ground for San Francisco’s urban agriculture revolution

Just a few years ago, they were abandoned freeways, dilapidated back yards, and institutional dumping grounds. But today, thanks to San Francisco’s urban agriculture renaissance, many of these pockets of underutilized land are being transformed. And one local company — Bayview Greenwaste — is playing a key role, by transforming waste into mulch, and giving it away. The city’s largest agricultural experiment to date may be the Hayes Valley Farm, which is growing on the former site of a freeway ramp. The ramp was demolished, but the lot sat empty for years as development funding wilted in the recession. Then, …

trash talk

The city that said no to garbage

If you want to keep garbage out of landfills, you have to stop thinking about it as garbage. Instead, think of it as resources. This is how Jack Macy thinks. He developed San Francisco’s trailblazing composting program and is currently Zero Waste Coordinator for the city. Here, he shares the city’s secrets to success.