Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lots of Local

Apples, plums, lemons, and tomatoes

There was lots of locally grown produce on Sunday. I could tell people who came that " these tomatoes came from Treat Ave. your neighbor Dave grew them and put them in used strawberry baskets. " Some apples and huge lemons came from around the corner on Folsom St. from Olga's backyard. Other apples came from two other people. The plums that everyone loves are from the Secret Garden on Harrison St. around the corner of 23rd St.. The lettuce and the kale come from that garden too, the kids who worked in the garden with Robert , Corrine, and I this summer grew it. Some of the tomatoes came from Treat Commons and my backyard nearby and a lot of the salad mix was from Treat Commons. Others came from a garden in San Mateo that Sigrid who also brought along with more of her green beans. The beets, stir fry greens, turnips, basil, herbs, and bok choy was unsold organic produce from the Ferry Building Farmer's Market or the Now Valley Farmer's Market and was probably the food that came from furthest away (at the most 100 miles). It is collected and redistributed by Food Runners. For some reason they often have a lot of beets they don't sell so we gave away about 30-40lbs of them! I think that leftover organic produce from the fancy farmer' market is great to give away and is a form of city gleaning, but I still hope we mostly can grow and share a lot of our own home grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers. It is the freshest and tastiest. A friend came with some organic carrots that looked like they were dumpster dived or sitting in a refrigerator too long, and I was reluctant to put them on the table, even after he clean them up. If I don't know exactly where they came from I am a bit concerned. They looked sad, tasteless and were probably low on nutrition, but he didn't have a garden and he really wanted to bring something to share, so I let the handful of them sit there with the more regal produce. And it turned out they were all given away.

Local honey

I brought some small jars of honey (I still have more to bottle but ran out of 2,4 or 8 ounce glass jars if anyone has some we can sure use them…baby food jars are the best). A great surprise is that Eli, a beekeeper I met at the San Francisco Beekeeper's Association, came by with some honey from his five hives in his backyard at 20th and Dolores St. And he brought some homemade plum jam. He likes to cook down fruit and bottle it, so he took half the plums I brought to make into more jam and some of the apples to make applesauce. So soon we will have more canned fruit, hooray. I forgot to ask him how he sweetens it.

We talked about organizing a plum picking day at the Secret Garden and then he would make more jam. If anyone wants to help make this happen please let me know.

Everlasting Flowers

Earlier in the week Jo brought the most beautiful blue statice flowers she grew in the Candlestick Point Community Garden (she also brought apples). I love everlasting flowers and like the fact that everlasting flowers retain their form and color after they dry. It was much fun to give them away.

Slow Food Weekend coming up

As I have written about before, there is a lot of excitement in the air about growing local foods and eating organic. The Slow Foods Nation big event is coming up this weekend and I am feeling pretty alienated from what is going on: A food tasting pavilion that is not only expensive to go to, but offers little for vegans, a high price speaker series with all the foodie/ecology big names and stars, and an expensive I am sure marketplace with vendors approved by the Slow Food Nation staff for their commitment to using good, clean, and fair production practices ($50 a pound chocolate).

There are going to be free talks and events all three days at the Soapbox (http://slowfoodnation.org/events/the-main-event/marketplace/soap-box/ for schedule). At 2:300 on Saturday Serge Labesque a Sonoma area beekeeper is speaking and I hear he is a great teacher.

There is a also list of Slow Journeys that also require you to fork over a good chunk of change to see places like wine vineyards, cheesemaking farms,a gourmet mushroom facility, some organic farms, and an olive oil ranch. There is one free Slow Journey to Alemany Farm (no bus ride included), the hip San Francisco farm that "provides green jobs for low-income communities, while sowing the seeds of economic and environmental justice." You have to bring your own potluck lunch to that journey and you can stick around and volunteer at their workday.

So the Free Farm Stand will not be represented at the Slow Food big to do and there won't be a Slow Journey to the Farm Stand on Sunday. I know I am all for local food and slowing down, but I am not on the big Slow Food Nation radar (though I have spoken to many of the people involved). Maybe I am too on the fringe with my crazy idea of giving food away. I don't think the idea is taken seriously. It could be a good thing actually and maybe what we need is similarly minded gardeners to unite and work together: those who like the idea of forming a network of neighbors helping each other to grow food and sharing it with each other, and giving away the surplus. Right now there is so much gardening that can be done and all that is needed is a group of committed people to put in a minimum of work every week. In some ways this is already starting to happen. On Tuesday afternoons from 1-3pm I meet up with a few people in Treat Commons and we work together. I am hoping to make Saturdays a regular work day at the Secret Garden for now, maybe at another garden in the future.

The Victory Garden in front of city hall is still one of the best parts of the Slow Food show and I think it will be taken down after labor day (hopefully moved to a permanent location). For anyone interesting in growing food and flowers, it is really worth seeing just to see how close you can plant vegetables and flowers. Things are growing so well there and I love it that the food is being given to the Food Bank. I especially liked seeing the three sisters and how well they are growing together.

Blog zine?

Someone suggested that I print up my blog postings every week and hand them out at the stand for those who come and don't go online to read it. I am thinking about this, maybe publishing a shortened version, and wonder if there is anyone out there that could translate a copy of it in Spanish every week. I could also use artists that might illustrate the zine. Please contact me if these ideas inspire you to get involved.

Shooting on 23rd and Treat

I learned from a neighbor who came to the stand that the night before a young man was shot and killed on the corner of 23rd Street and Treat Ave. The neighbor who told me about it had witnessed the previous shooting of someone right outside his door on Treat Ave, a few months ago I believe. He heard the shots and ran out to help and saw a man bleeding on the doorstep. This kind of violence makes me feel powerless and I am not sure what I can do to help the situation out. All the good vibes at the farm stand may or may not have an effect in the long run, but right now it's a whole world I am not a part of, though it is in my neighborhood. I send out a prayer for peace and love to the young mans family and for all of us that are touched by this senseless violence.

My bike cart filled with seedlings grown at Green Gulch Farm for the Victory Garden. They generously gave me their extras to give away and plant!

Justin's homemade bike cart. Justin got some seedlings from the Free Farm Stand for his new backyard garden. The property owner behind his backyard is letting him garden in his unused backyard which has more sun, so he hops over the fence and is planting lots of greens.


david said...


I don't think your ideas are crazy, giving food away. I do think the idea of gourmand foodies congratulating themselves for finding some expensive rare specimen IS crazy.

Keep us the good work.


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