Monday, October 27, 2008

A Sense of Change

I have been feeling an excitement in the air and a sense of change, but it has not so much to do with the upcoming election. One would like to believe that politics really changes things on a deep level. That is why a lot of us pay attention to all that is going on in the world, and we get sucked into the election news so easily. If nothing else we wear our political buttons and hang our signs up, yes on this and no on that, and we vote for all the right things to vote for. The change I feel though comes from meeting a lot of positive people these days and that keeps me from feeling more hopeful and less cynical. I just learned something basic about the seasonal changes here in this part of California that I will write about later, but somehow being in touch with the garden and these seasonal changes is also comforting to me these days.

Kirsten memorial and the Really Really Free Market…

On Saturday I turned my trusty wagon into a traveling Free Farm Road Show and hauled a lot of seedlings and plants to Dolores Park for the RRFM and memorial for Kirsten, one the main people who helped start it and organize it. I also brought pictures of the Farm Stand, a bucket of walnuts from my backyard to shell, and a sign Free Garden Advice. I spent a number of hours just shelling walnuts and talking to people, and giving away plants. Later in the day a friend watched the stand and I walked around looking at all the stuff being given away, but wasn't really looking for anything. It is amazing how many people haven't had fresh walnuts from a tree and they were a big hit. A lot of people want to try gardening, but think they it is hard and they can't possibly grow anything. I got a lot of questions about how to water plants and my general reply is don't over water. That the most common gardening error is over loving a plant by drowning it. The other common error is neglecting a plant and letting it dry up or just death by neglect. I did enjoy meeting some really sweet people, both gardeners and wannabe gardeners alike, and connecting with some of Kirsten's closer friends that have the same idealism that she did.

A couple of other nice things happened at my Free Farm Stand Road Show. People came by and dropped off some pretty good tasting and giant grapefruit (they could have been pomelos) and another person dropped off some seeds, some mint, and lemon verbena. And someone gave me two high quality sharp knives to use in the kitchen, because they liked what I was doing.

After the Dolores Park event I went to Clarion Alley to set up because Ivy asked me to come. I wasn't there long because I started asking myself what am I doing trying to promote this project by having my sign up and my "informational wagon". I really am not trying to inflate myself or what I am doing and started feeling silly being there when it was really about music (mostly loud music) and partying anyway.

The Farm Stand gets a Farm (sort of)

After being "farmless " since we started, the Free Farm Stand looks like we will have a place to grow a lot of food to share every Sunday. We have started working with the San Francisco Permaculture Guild turning a "vacant lot into garden plots". David has put up a website to keep everyone interested up-to-date and try to explain what permaculture is (I am not sure if I am a permaculture person or not, but am open to trying out their approach to starting a garden from scratch): . We have started having Friday workdays at 10am (I plan to show up at 9:30am). We could use pitchforks, wheel barrows, and flat shovels for the process in we are in of laying down wet cardboard and wood chips. We are also on the lookout for free clean soil (vs. fill).

Season Change at the Free Farm Stand

Somehow I had one of those moments where I felt a really learned something related to growing food. I have been feeling that the air is crisper and the light has changed significantly this last month and it felt like the season has definitely changed to autumn here. Our backyards are getting less and less sun as it is lower on the horizon. But another obvious clearer sign of season change is what is being harvested now and what is on our Free Farm Stand table.

This week was such a clear example of what I am writing about. The amount of San Francisco local grown tomatoes is for the most part over. I have been talking to some neighbors whose tomatoes are just coming in strong, but they seem to be the exception. They are the ones I guess who got their tomatoes in late (and I have also grown tomatoes here into December that I planted in June instead of February). In Treat Commons, which gets lots of direct sun every ay, we still have tomatoes producing. I harvested the last tomatoes from a number of plants and Christy brought a big bag of tomatoes from the Corona Heights Community Garden. She also brought Cape Gooseberries that everyone gets excited about and they are still growing well and producing the Chinese lantern looking fruit. The one yellow zucchini plant at the Secret Garden is still producing zucchinis and I picked two of them to share. I have been saving the four pumpkins I grew this year to put out on the table for an autumn touch to the stand. I also had an unusual looking buttercup type squash to give away. The scarlet runner beans are still pumping out the beans and I had more than a handful to give away (and they have more flowers too). The basil in all the gardens is flowering and I am pulling up the plants and giving out mostly flowers from the plants. The African blue basil which is supposed to be a perennial is growing well and I keep clipping back the flower stems.

I got a ton of leftover food from the Ferry Building Farmer's market and some of it very seasonal. There were beautiful fuyu persimmons for example and the very end of the grapes from the one farmer who had them (they were getting soft but were very sweet). I also got from them some apples, cauliflower, a few potatoes,salad mix, and stir fry mix. Next Sunday Nosrat and Allegra are going to put on a cooking demonstration showing their ideas of how to use some of the produce we get.

Figs are also ripening now. In my backyard I have a green variety called Genoa that are slowing getting soft. They never have been very sweet nor tasty, but I may try grilling them and seeing how they taste that way. A woman brought some figs to the stand and gave me one to taste. It was so beautiful inside I had to take a photo of it.

It was sweet and yummy too! Another unknown visitor left a bag of figs in a bag on the fence with a sign for the Free Farm Stand.. This is terrific!. At the very end of the day when we were closing up there was one woman who showed up late and was taking the rest of what we had left over (not much). Sarah Miles who lives nearby came in with what looked like Granny Smith apples and dark fresh figs from her garden.

I want to comment that we had a great crew of women volunteers helping me set up this week. Corrine showed up with a couple of friends from the gardening & composting educator training program (GCETP or what I have called "getup" class) they all took this summer. Also, later in the day Sara showed up who also took the class and having her Spanish speaking skills was really great. Some of our more regular helpers were there too, Jenny, Thy, Maeve, and Maria. There was plenty to do, besides setting up the stand, they were able to label plants and put them on the plant give away table and also to just hand out produce to everyone. It left me with time to talk to neighbors and answer garden questions.

Food Program or neighborhood produce growing/sharing project?

I am really fortunate to have friends who help try to keep me in line when I seemingly stray from my goals. Christy sent me this email query last week that I appreciated:

" I thought the stand was really about using what people could produce here locally (as in right in SF proper) and outside of the commercial system, not just about redistributing surplus. I think maybe if you decide to stick more strictly to making available only what people here in the city who do not produce food commercially can produce, even if that seems like a smaller amount of food, you will have more of a chance of building a real full circle between producers and consumers, and building the sense of community the stand seemed to be developing when it first started. If the stand becomes another food bank, even if the food you redistribute is fresh and organic and all comes from within a few hundred miles, then you are doing something different. Not a bad thing, probably something necessary and helpful in its own way, but different from what I thought the original intention was. "

My reply:

"I have thought a lot about this issue... I have always seen getting surplus food as a form of city gleaning and as part of a strategy to deal with hunger in addition to growing food. Using the waste food in our cities.

But you are also right that the farm stand was not intended to be a food program in the traditional sense, like the food pantries I have run. I personally have wanted to be a farmer for one thing and just want to grow a lot of food to give away. I also like the idea of doing my part to make local organic food not just a thing for rich people. And part of that is to build a network of neighbors who grow food and share it with each other. I was inspired by not only the City Slickers Farm Stand in West Oakland, but this guy in Berkeley who has organized maybe a 100 houses to grow food...I am not too sure on the details. Of all my efforts so far, I think are falling short the most in terms of building a network of neighbors growing and sharing food together."

At least two other people whom I have talked to sort of agreed with Christy and warned me about letting things grow too big. One woman said don't give away bread let Martin's do that. I guess I want to do two somewhat different things at the same time, and right now because the growing food part is going slower the free surplus local organic food is dominating the scene.

So I really am happy when people who come to the stand to bring something to share, even if it is not much. Maybe I need an AA group for people who like to give food away and are addicted to working in food programs

Gleaning report

For the second week in a row, I haven't gone out to pick apples for the stand. I know where there is fruit, but I just haven't felt like I have had the time to go out picking or researching the trees I have heard of. I did get some fruit from the Farmer's Market, though it isn't the same as picking your own locally grown fruit. While I was at the RRFM shelling walnuts someone told me about a huge walnut tree just blocks from the park. That would be a self-less job to harvest walnuts for the Free Farm Stand.

More Honey

Today we extracted over five gallons of honey. That makes the total of over 15 gallons of honey this year with one hive!

Jamestown Crew

On Tuesday afternoon I have been meeting with whomever shows up at Treat Commons to do some gardening and then later the Jamestown Center after school program shows up and we go to the Secret Garden to do more gardening for the Farm Stand. It always amazes me that we have such great volunteers who are so good at working with the kids. And that the kids and Nicole and her teachers aid are great to work with too. Below is a group photo and some pictures of the kids in action:

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Local Spread

Sorry to get political here, but personally I think we live in a sad world when we see spreading the wealth around as a bad thing. At the free farm stand we are spreading the wealth around every week from our abundant gardens. Sharing our harvest with neighbors and strangers. Spreading our love, compassion, and care around seems like a good idea to me. That is true wealth.

This week I felt especially grateful for the generosity of so many people with their time and free positive spirit. It started Tuesday at Treat Commons and the Secret Garden. At both gardens we had four new people who showed up to help. The kids from Jamestown Center are fun to work with and we got a lot done at the Secret Garden. We are getting the beds ready to plant garlic and fava beans there tomorrow. I wanted to take a picture of the Jamestown crew but forgot my camera.

Another high point of the day at the Secret Garden was meeting Thy who showed up to help. She is one of the most cheerful and enthusiastic volunteers I have met recently, and I really enjoyed working with her. She and I stuck around the garden after the kids left and we finished double digging the beds the kids worked on and I didn't get home until 6pm. Then she came by on Thursday to help me get our backyard garden in shape and ready to plant. We also potted up seedlings and then she got the prize for taking home a shopping bag of walnuts to shell (the walnuts look a little too funky to hand out at the stand unfortunately).

18th and Rhode Island mini-farm

Work has begun on the mini-farm for the Free Farm Stand. I am working and learning with the San Francisco Permaculture Guild to create a garden the permaculture way. Dave Cody worked with Dave and laid out the contours of the land so we can build berms. So here in a nutshell is what was explained to me from Kevin. The land is on a very rocky slope so we are going to build raised beds or berms that lie on the contour of the land.Using a calibrated home made A frame tool, Dave determined the levelness of the ground. When water flows down the hill it will hit the berm and since it is level, the water will spread out to seek levelness. It will then soak into the mound before it travels further downhill. The berms are going to be created by laying down about 2 inches deep of wood chips, then a couple of layers of cardboard and then two feet of compost /mulch from Bayview Greenwaste Management mixed with manure or other compost and possibly some soil. I just afound out about some free soil that is going to be delivered on Friday!

the lot from Google satellite...marked where the mulch/compost

will be dumped

The two Davids using the A frame tomark level berm

Friday was our first work day and because I had an appointment in the morning we started at noon which was a mistake because it was a hot day. Several people came and we pulled ivy up off a mound of rocks. I am hoping we can get more people because it is such a hard job. The current plan is to start with Friday mornings as a work day starting at 9:30am and work for a number of hours. Maybe at some point we can add a couple of Saturdays a month for those only available week-ends. The permaculture approach is to bury the woody stalks of the fennel and the ivy under the berm, but I must admit my worry about the ivy spreading.

What we need now are not only more hands on deck, but the use of a pickup truck to move bales of cardboard from Whole Foods down the street to the garden. I may be able to get a bale in our van. This Friday a 20 yd load of compost/mulch is going to be dropped off. We haven't determined the perfect method of removing ivy from rocks, but hoes, mattocks, or picks seem to help somewhat. If anyone comes and can bring those kinds of tools or clippers that would help. Dave said that the first three swales or berms are laid out. So once we get all the materials on site we can start constructing the berms.

An Autumn Farm Stand

The weather has started cooling down and I started wondering what I might have come winter. For now there is still summer stuff coming in. A woman brought by five big beautiful early girl tomatoes from her garden on 14th and Guerrero and said they were planted late from seed and they are just coming in (I have been pulling up our dying tomato plants to get in fall and winter crops)…she must have a sunny location now.

She also brought a few pomegranates from her mother's garden in Orange Country (not really local, but they looked tasty).

Jose brought more cucumbers from Potrero de Sol Community Garden and Shelly brought a lot of purple tomatillos from her plot that is in the same place. The cucumbers were gone before I could take their picture.

And Steve dropped off some packages of organic garbanzo beans. So with the shelled walnuts and the beans we had some protein on the table. I had both tomatillos and ground cherries or Cape Gooseberries and it was nice showing people the similar fruits (and having the Cape Gooseberry plant growing in the garden is also wonderful so people can learn what they grow like). I cut up the rest of the banana squash from last week and had at least ten one pound pieces to give away. I realized that once they are cut open you have got to clean out the seeds and pulp inside or they start rotting. I saved some of the small pieces that I cut away from the rotten part and cooked it last night and found it delicious (steamed, mashed with a little non-hydrogenated vegan butter spread and maple syrup, ginger, and nutmeg). I had a beautiful selection of chile peppers, mostly hot ones. The rocoto peppers, the big fat red ones that almost look like habeneros are very hot and are perennial here and grow well.

One surprise harvest came from the rooftop garden of the Chronicle building on 5th St. downtown. Kevin, Tara, and David from the permaculture guild on Friday brought me some apples and lemons from the trees, parsley, basil, Vietnamese cilantro (a strongly flavored plant in the knotweed family, Polygonum odoratum),and a few other herbs from that garden. Ty who was born in Vietnam loves the cilantro, but unfortunately it was not in good shape when I got it to the table. I forgot to refrigerate it and it looked dry and unattractive.

I harvested the rest of the lettuce from my backyard and a lot of arugula from the Secret Garden. There were a few squash from Treat Commons and the Secret Garden, some miscellaneous greens from the Secret Garden and Treat Commons, Also, tomatoes from Treat Commons. Nosrat came by with a big bowl of green figs, some which were quite tasty and somewhat sweet.

He also brought some pineapple guava from a garden in the Sunset.

He and Allegra talked about having a cooking demonstration at the stand using food that is on the table. We decided to set that up for November 2. Jennny harvested some of the lemon grass and dried it and packaged it with an informational label.

Robert came by with bags of bread again and it is very popular. Actually Jenny brought some bread too that I gave out. She is a gardenr at the city golf course and they have a restaurant there. Se asked the bread delivery guy if they have any bread they aren't selling and he gave her some. It wasn't organic or high quality as the other bread, but people did want it. I have to watch out what I give out, it could be a slippery slope giving out stuff that is not organic or stuff that isn't vegan.

I didn't have as many apples as I would have liked. I just felt overwhelmed and too busy this week to go apple picking or fruit hunting.

This week's farm stand was the first hint that the number of people coming is growing larger. At the beginning there was a small line of people wanting to shop and I started feeling I little worried that it wasn't as mellow a scene as I would want. And some of that also comes from the people who are shopping, that some of them see this as just a free food program which it is not exactly. At the end of the day almost all the food was given away which still surprises me.

Pocket Seed Library Picnic

Talk about spreading the wealth I went to the "picnic"/potluck put on by the Pocket Seed Library on Saturday. While the crazy world outside was speeding along with crazy traffic and zillions of people going to the alcohol sponsored soapbox race on Dolores St., I walked into a beautiful bamboo garden behind the Southern Exposure gallery for a quirky only in San Francisco event. I am a bamboo lover and I was excited by the bamboo varieties were planted...the yellow bamboo with the green stripes was fabulous and worth the trip alone. There was lots of delicious food, though I wasn't sure what was vegan and what wasn't. Zooey, who along with Erin started the library project, made a delicious salad that was also beautiful to the eye. She told me she grew the salad in her dad's backyard I think in the Sunset. I met Nikki who made a tasty vegan grape pie. Garden people are some of the best crowd to hang out with in my opinion.

Besides the food there were lots of seeds being shared. I dropped off some of my favorite seed that I saved from this year and picked up a number of varieties of lettuce and Japanese spinach that I haven't grown before. I also joined the Pocket Seed Library that cost me nothing and I am going to try planting some Tall Telephone Peas that are an heirloom and sound great.

Bee Update

It seems our bees have produced another two boxes of honey. I am going to be extracting again soon and am open to a few others watching and helping out.

More Photos

Thanks to Thy coming by and helping me set up the stand and sticking around to help I was able to take more photos.

I love mother and daughter photos

a young girl all dressed up tasting the fig
then I was told to check out her shoes

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall Guy

A woman at the Free Farm Stand yesterday asked me asked me how long the Farm Stand would be open, in other words would I be there in there in the late fall and the winter? She imagined that there wouldn't be much produce and that I would close. I told her that this was partly an experiment for me to see how much food I could grow year round in San Francisco, so that I plan to keep coming as long as I can keep bringing something to the table that was locally grown and organic. Don't the CSA's keep providing food boxes all through the year? As long as I have some sunny space I know I can grow food.

It really is feeling like fall right now or is it a warm Indian summer? Angie and I love this clear Autumn light and there is a crispness in the air too. Now is a good time to be growing cool weather crops, especially leafy greens and lettuce, peas (I love planting snap peas), garlic, and fava beans. We don't usually get frost here, so we can grow a lot during the fall and winter. The problem is our gardens are usually shady in the city this time of year, unless we are lucky, so growing greens and fava beans are our best bet.

I had a huge amount of food and flowers at the farm stand this week. I spaced out and didn't take any photos at the start and only have a few photos after an hour or so passed by .There was still a lot of food on the table then. I really could use a good photographer!

First of all, I harvested apples from two trees. In my last post, I showed the photos of the apple tree in Golden Gate Park I harvested. I also picked my neighbors apple tree and cleaned the ground of the fallen apples too. Her lemon tree is still producing lemons and that is really the story of "plant you now pick you later". What an incredible gift! I also had all the tomatoes from the organic farmer in Sebastopol and his big banana squash. Just like Tom said (the guy who brought the tomatoes and squash to me from the country), I cut the squash easily with a "sawzall", and I wrapped 1 lb. pieces in cling plastic wrap. I still have more to cut up and he wants to bring me more.

On Saturday Angie and I prepared a big salad for our friends wedding. It is like the gold rush all over again in San Francisco with the number of gay people getting married before the election (hopefully though it looks like Proposition 8 the Same Sex Marriage Ban will go down for defeat). At the end of the event, I was described in a good way as a bottom feeder. I collected a lot of flowers for the farm stand and even went through the compost bin collecting the bamboo plates to wash). It was a good attempt at a green wedding. I also had a box of salad mix from Green Gulch farm leftover plus some prepared salad, and some sunflower greens and clover/brassica mix sprouts. Oh I grabbed all the leftover delicious vegan chicken sandwiches and they went fast to my surprise.

The table was overflowing and the flowers made everything look fabulous. There were also apples, beets, and a lot of herbs (a lot of basil) from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. And more wonderful Acme bread. I harvested some yellow zucchini and tomatoes from the Secret Garden. Christy came by with tomatoes and Cape Gooseberries from the Corona Heights Garden and a woman came by with a big spaghetti squash from her garden. And Jose and Minda dropped off more cucumbers from their garden at Potrero del Sol.

I have been giving away cilantro and kale seedlings and this week I started distributing tree collards that I rooted. They really root easily and it is a great plant to grow. They grow year round and the leaves are especially sweeter in the winter. They can grow pretty tall and it is a great perennial source of greens. I have more plants if anyone wants to try growing them. I have had two people tell me they have harvested broccoli from the seedlings they got from the stand. One guy grows his entire garden in containers (I think mostly in 5 gallon buckets).

Mini-farm update and other news

I met last week with David at the new permaculture mini-farm/garden at 18th and Rhode Island. He is going to try to have the swales laid out by next Friday. Once those are laid out we can begin sheet mulching. We are trying to get manure, cardboard, and wood chips on the lot and ready to use when we are ready. We will see how that goes, but in any case there is a lot of ivy to pull up and woody stuff to chop up. Dave and I thought Fridays would be a good work day and I am going to line that up as a day I will be there. This week I will be at the lot at noon and so will Dave. I am really hoping that we get at least one swale ready to plant soon so we might start putting seeds and bulbs in the ground (I have garlic that I especially want to plant and we will probably plant fava beans and some kale too).

The local food growing enthusiasm is still growing strong. There is a new movie coming out on the Edible City. Here is a link to the trailer… Here is a link that Kevin posted about an inspiring urban farmer in Milwaukee ... One shortcoming of the Free Farm Stand is the lack of a consistent person at the stand every Sunday that speaks Spanish. I want to get the word out to everyone that comes what we are doing, that it is more than just giving out free food. I want to talk to people about forming a network of neighbors who can grow food and share it at the stand. I want to communicate about where our food comes from and help people who might like to try growing some food. A large percent of the people who come to the stand speak only Spanish so I hope we can do better eventually at having more Spanish speaking people helping out.

Gleaning update

There are more trees to pick right now and fruit trees to research. I am stretched out pretty thin these days and am looking for someone to train to help go out and get the fruit or at least find out if the trees are being harvested and if we can pick them. This Saturday morning if I don't have any fruit I may go out and pick some.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Time for Peace

There is a season for everything and I pray for a time of peace! I was sad and crazy all last week mostly related to hearing about the murder of my new friend Kirsten in New Orleans. She was a twenty-five year old woman who totally inspired me with her spirit and energy. She helped start and organize two cool projects I knew about, the Really Really Free Market in Dolores Park and the Access Café. She was on a trip across the states and I was following her progress through emails that she would send out.

"Many of us want to build the world we actually want to live in. We are doing it now, in many different ways all over the country… in search of these people, places and projects that are developing alternative economic formulas for do-it-yourself emancipation. We hope to discover, connect and facilitate networks of post-capitalist organizers, free culture, and thriving modes of living outside of this twisted system."

I met her about the time I was starting the Free Farm Stand in April and she was excited about what I was doing as I was excited by her. Her idealism was so shiny and though I knew her too briefly she really touched my heart. I hope all us can continue our work to make the world a more beautiful place, despite the sadness and horror that pops up continually.

Here are some links if you want to read more about her:

video interview of her at free market:

Farm Stand News

The table was over full again this week, thanks to a good supply of organic produce from the Ferry Building Farmer's Market. Besides the large amount of lettuce and tomatoes I had harvested from three gardens, I got a lot of salad mix, yard long beans, Italian Sweet Peppers, and cilantro left over from the farmer's market. I also harvested almost the last of the kale and some basil. Jenny pruned the lemon verbena bush in the community garden and dried and packaged it again with some nice informational labels.

Nosrat our neighbor that lives right around the garden came by with a lot of cherry tomatoes he grew plus some green figs he picked from the tree overhanging into his yard. I enjoy talking to Nosrat who is from Iran. He sounds like he is very knowledgeable about cooking and gives us all great ideas how to use some of the produce we get. He recommended cilantro pesto (he adds other herbs besides basil to his pesto when he makes it ) and he suggested with figs that are not too sweet to cut them in half and drip honey on them and broil them (I am sure other sweeteners would work too like agave syrup).

I also brought walnuts from our garden to the stand that I was hoping to shell if I had time (I didn't get far). Nosrat showed me a couple of different clever ways of cracking walnuts that he learned from a walnut grower. The he shared with me a beautiful Persian proverb about a walnut tree. Here it is from the internet (

A young prince happened by an old man who was planting a walnut tree. The young prince admonished him: "Old man, a walnut tree won't bear fruit for another thirty years. What are you hoping for? Do you think that you will ever live long enough to see this tree bear fruit?"

The old man answered:

"There is no need for me to see this tree bear fruit! Others planted and we ate their fruits. We plant so others eat."

Nancy came by and her chemo treatments were over and her hair was growing back and she was really happy. She brought some empty jars and shared some herbs that she grew I think in a window sill box. What a beautiful effort!

Another great thing that happened is that a few local kids starting to help out. One young girl about 9 or 10 years old whose mom speaks mostly Spanish asked if she could help. She helped at the beginning setting up and then came back around the end and helped me put things away.

I also served some apple sauce I made from the rejected apples from last week and that attracted all the kids in the park.

A Cabbage Story

As I was leaving Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen on Sunday morning a woman arrived with her car filled with boxes of cabbages, left over from the Julian Food Pantry on Saturday. Martin's couldn't use them and they were calling around trying to help her unload them. She was trying to get to church and the baby seat even had cabbages in on it. I told her I could take some and give them away at our farm stand. They were good cabbages, but I thought they were neither organic nor locally grown, but wanted to help her out in some way and I thought people might want some. I only took two boxes or about 16 cabbages and I freed our baby car seat. It turns out that the cabbages were very popular and they were one of the things that were given away first.

Apple picking in Golden Gate Park

At the Permaculture Guild meeting I learned from Kevin about an apple tree in Golden Gate Park. After attending the free bluegrass festival I rode my bike there to check it out. It was such a beautiful tree and loaded with red apples. I picked as many off the ground and loaded them into my already full bike basket. Also, the apples were in pretty good shape for being on the ground and they tasted remarkably sweet. I came back on Monday and brought an apple picker and picked a rectangular milk crate full. It was such a thrill to go to a public park and pick apples. That is the way it should be. There were homeless guys sleeping all around and a couple of people picking apples off the ground while I was there.. One person said to be sure to leave some for the homeless people that eat the fruit. There are still loads on the tree. I thought it was interesting to see a man not far from the tree with a sign saying he was hungry and needed help. I would have liked to hand him some apples, but was in the wrong lane when I drove by him.

Here is a picture of the car filled with food for next week. Before I picked apples I picked up crates of organic tomatoes and squash from a farmer in Sebastopol who apparently is not a good businessman. His friend comes to the city once in a while to visit his daughter and brought the surplus food with him.

New Garden at 18th and Rhode Island

I am very excited to announce that work has begun on the empty lot on Potrero Hill On 1th St. and Rhode Island. Thanks to David I got my first real hands on learning about permaculture and learned how to lay out berms and swales as the first step towards creating a permaculture garden at the site. A number of others came and it was really wonderful. I have never been too good at learning things through a book and this is the first time I felt that I could relate to permaculture in a real way. And the idea that the food we grow will go to the free farm stand is so great. I am hoping soon we will set up a regular work day (possibly Friday mornings) to work there and get the garden up and growing things sooner than later. There is a plan and it just needs to be carried out. One thing that is needed is lots of unwaxed cardboard to sheet mulch the land.

Things are starting to take off with the Permaculture Guild. The new website is up and running: Plus the Gleaning Database is almost working. Plus Azjah has started coordinating gleaning projects with me and people who might want to help.

Secret garden

On Tuesday afternoons I have started working with Nicole and her 15 kids from Jamestown Center at Treat Commons and the Secret Garden. We have gotten a lot of work done and everyone seems to have fun. We have peas and cilantro and kale planted so far and next week we will probably pull up the tomato plants.