Monday, September 8, 2008

A Life of Its Own

This week I had to help host a church pot luck in my back yard, so I asked Corrine to open the stand for me the first hour. She graciously accomplished the task and when I got there things were in full swing. The table was laid out beautifully and some people were already there getting food. My big reflection on the farm stand this week is that it is already growing a life of its own and becoming what it is somewhat independent of me. It is not that every week the farm stand is growing bigger and bigger, though more people are coming, nor do I think that I am growing more food to give away (the amounts of food still vary from week to week). And I haven't attracted a core group yet of people that want to help run the Free Farm Stand.

The best thing about the farm stand though is that it is becoming an actual part of the neighborhood that is attracting a number of "regulars" every week. Neighbors are getting to meet other neighbors and something else is happening besides a food program for the poor or a tool to support local food growing.

I loved it when I got to the stand and there was a stack of flyers on the table about a peace march in the neighbor happening that evening. I was able to hand them out to people who came by and there was talk generated about the violence in our neighborhood and what people thought about it.

It is so beautiful also when neighbors come by with a small amount of something they grew themselves and bring it to share. And what was exciting was that when something was low, a neighbor would magically show up with a small amount of something to replace it with. That happened with the tomatoes. First Dave came with some more of his cherry tomatoes from Treat Ave. that resupplied the ones I had brought from several gardens. Then those ran out, but Nosrat showed up with a handful of tomatoes he grew right around the corner on Folsom St. Catilyn brought some salad mix from her garden that added to the lettuces I grew and contributed to the bounty. She also brought some nice looking tomatillos and with the different chili peppers we had someone could make a nice salsa.

We had something new on the table this week. Jamie who lives nearby got a job on Saturdays at Acme bakery at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. She hated to see the bread that wasn't sold at the end of the day being thrown out, so after talking to me we decided to try giving it out at the Free Farm Stand. The company bakes very good organic bread. I gave away two big bags of it. She will bring some more next week, but she had a hard time carrying it all home from work on Bart, so she might bring less.

Justin and Brooke brought the most delicious pears they gleaned from an abandoned pear orchard in Morga in the east bay And Jo had more apples from Candlestick Point community Garden. A couple of people brought some lemons, including Dolores who came to our church potluck earlier. They were all mostly huge lemons. Dolores surprised me when she said hers were Meyer lemons, I thought that variety was small (at the least the ones in our garden are). The lemons at our stand were huge round yellow balls and pretty impressive looking. Someone else also brought a few cucumbers from a garden in Berkeley. There were a few beautiful lemon cucumbers and one Armenian cucumber. I was curious how that long unusual cucumber tasted. Maybe when there is only one of something I should slice it open on the spot so people can have a taste of it.

Peace March

In the wake of the six homicides in our neighborhood, a candlelight peace march was held Sunday night down 24th St. I thought there were 50-75 people in attendance and I talked to a number of our neighbors, some who I have met at the farm stand. I think everyone is freaked out with the violence going down around here and no one has a clue what to do. So just walking together with your neighbors I think is a good thing and that is why I joined it. We visited the site of three murders and dropped off our prayers for peace.

On the march, I was talking to neighbor whom I have known for years. The subject of horticultural therapy came up because she was telling me since her husband has started getting into gardening recently, he has become happier and he whistles when he comes in from working in the garden. This is a man who has had to deal with horrible treatments for prostrate cancer.

I am a big believer that gardens and trees themselves can bring healing energy to the planet and for that fact alone we need more of them. One of my crazy fantasies right now is to try to talk Delano Market into letting me plant a Peace Garden in a part of their parking lot. I live right across from it and at night a lot of stuff goes down out there, and our neighborhood besides needing some good local organic food could use some good vibe energy that gardens and nature can bring.


The results are finaly in about the jam Eli made with the plums from the Secret Garden. I opened the jar that Eli brought last week and gave out samples of the plum jam in small plastic containers at the stand. It was really delicious. Eli loves to make jam and maybe we can collect more fruit and work with him making another batch. The plums in the Secret Garden are almost getting to the point where they are too ripe to pick. Though there are still a lot on

Mayor talks the talk for Local Food

I just read last week an article in the Chronicle how our dear mayor has now come out in support of local food and has gotten the Slow Food bite or something: The article is titled "S.F. is developing a policy on use of local food" ( "The policy will also encourage urban gardens and call for planting fruit-bearing trees and plants in street medians and abandoned lots." "Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to get a lot more of that local produce onto the plates of anyone served a public meal - including schoolchildren, homeless people, hospital patients and jail inmates."

Personally I have a hard time not thinking this is hot air. I contacted Daniel Homsey in city hall who I know to see if anyone there can help me find a place to start a free farm stand farm in the city. I pointed out the article to him and he said he would try to figure out who to contact there that might help. I also asked him for leads to get free compost. We will see if anything turns up for small nobodys and projects like mine. I also wound up talking to Tom Ammiano at the Peace walk and he liked my idea of setting up an urban peace farm or garden and said to contact him about it.

I love the idea and hope something good will come out of it. In the meantime I hope to start working on moving foward the projects of planting fruit trees and bushes in Parque Niños Unidos and getting a garden planted at 18th St. and Rhode Island.

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