Monday, January 26, 2009

Girl Scout Takeover

The long planned visit of the Daisy Girl Scout troop to the Free Farm Stand finally happened yesterday and it was a real blast. Eight giggly, enthusiastic 5-6 year olds girls made the Free Farm Stand a lot of fun and I think everyone enjoyed their help and presence. The day started out as a big question mark in terms of weather, they postponed an earlier visit because of rain, and the clouds had disappeared just before I got to the park and it seemed like it was going to warm up. But then when the girls started arriving it clouded up and got chilly. Later at some point soon after, the sun burst out and it warmed up the rest of the day. It was truly fabulous outside which brought out the crowds. Because the garden was a bit muddy we set up the stand in the park which turned out to give people more room to hang out.

The girls had a lot to do because we had gotten so much produce from the farmers market that needed sorting out. Someday I hope that we grow more food in our neighborhood (especially this time of the year), but now the free local organic produce from the bigger farmers outside the city overshadows everything. Before we started I talked to the kids about farmers and where our food comes from, and how we are trying to make good healthy locally grown food without sprays available to everyone, whether they have enough money to buy that kind of produce or not. I also talked about seasons and what grows this time of year. So our table was loaded with cool season vegetables, lots of greens, broccoli, broccoli raab or rapini, Brussel sprouts, celery, cabbage, and salad mix. I actually harvested some of the same things. The Secret Garden gave me 2 pounds of baby lettuce and arugula, and a pound of kale and broccoli side shoots. I also harvested a handful of snap peas and a handful of Cape Gooseberries that are so popular. I also had some grapes from the farmers market. Where are those grown this time of year?

Zoey came by with some beautiful salad mix she had grown in her garden. I met Zoey at a seed exchange event last year at the Pocket Seed Library ( that she helped start. I took a photo of her salad and she knows the names of all the colorful salad greens in her mix. It is so much fun to meet up with another avid gardener in a garden and talk plants. And her being a true artist with a great eye made it even more exciting to see what attracted her attention (like the tree collards with their beautiful purple and green leaves right now).
And Fred came by with a bag of miner's lettuce from his garden. I love introducing local wild foods to the neighbors who come to the stand and miners lettuce is really good in salads and you don't even have to plant it in most gardens that have been cultivated for a while.
This week we actually counted how many people came to the stand with a counter and we had over fifty people. Most of the food was given away and we had no bread left over either.
There are so many garden and local food things happening right now in the city. And the Mission is becoming more of a hipster place. Some of the projects have their feet in the smiling social justice capitalist waters. At the same time they seem to be pushing good causes. Mission Pie is an example and now there is Mission Street Food (donating all proceeds to charity like Newman's Own and with the goal "to employ charity as a viable marketing strategy"). A friend Leif sent me the menu he is cooking for it this week (they have guest chefs). It says it all:

chickweed, chicory, cress, chioggas, pecorino ginepro, blood orange, rosemary-filbert vinaigrette
Tartine walnut levain with chevre, apple, meyer lemon, wild arugala, pine nut, honey, olio nuovo, Murray River salt
deep fried yuba package with maitake, matsutake, mustard greens, leek, miso, yuzu, matcha salt
roasted cauliflower with tahini, Recchiuti chocolate 85%, piment d'Espelette
bucatini e cavolo nero: caramelized alliums, fried sage, dried cherries, toasted almonds, capers, olives, chiles and brown butter
Humphrey Slocombe maple walnut ice cream [the newest hip business in our neighborhood] with rosemary shortbread and olio nuovo .

A new friend Craig has a vegan taco wagon ( though the site right now just has a picture of his truck on it) and he wants to serve good healthy vegan food like Café Gratitude but with more reasonable prices and he wants to include a social justice component to it too. He was interested in me getting involved. I have actually always been attracted to serving free meals and before I started the Free Farm Stand I thought about opening a free vegan soup kitchen that served locally grown food. Another dream in my pocket.

The question I always ask is how do you not become a hipster project that only serves a small circle of cool people? The Free Farm Stand itself has this problem and I hope we continue to serve a lot of our neighbors that are poor and without a lot of money to buy organic food. But because what we are doing is so exciting I guess we pull in people that want to be part of the happening scene. I hope we can just get more people that can make some time to garden somewhere. I even appreciate people that just bring bags to give away produce in.

The 18th and Rhode Island work day was rained out last week. I hope this week we can get back in the garden and work on the place more. I can't wait for the rest of the trees to arrive.
Talking about trees I just got this email sent to me while typing:

Due to the San Francisco General Hospital rebuild seven mature Magnolia trees are to be removed from in front of San Francisco General to create temporary road ways for the rebuild. These trees will be replaced by 48" box trees (?). To protest the removal you could write a letter to DPW-Bureau of Forestry 2323 Cesar Chavez SF CA 94124 or fax to 695-2147. The dead line to protest is February 12, 2009.
During the construction of City College on Valencia St. the neighborhood was able to stop the city from removing the trees in front of the site. The construction was able to continue without any delays and the trees were saved a win- win situation for everyone.
Magnolia trees are slow growing and took years for them to reach maturity. They provide a uniformed look on Potrero Ave with beautiful large white flowers during the summer. Please help save these trees.

This is so pathetic and I plan on writing DPW for sure. I was recently reading the web site of Tree People in Los Angeles and was so inspired by the work they are doing in L.A. my hometown. They have a program where they give fruit trees to people to plant and also another program where they give fruit trees in containers to people who don't have dirt to plant them in. Why is our city so clueless about the importance of planting trees and instead of always thinking of reasons they need to be cut down, why don't they incorporate the planting of more trees (especially fruit trees) in any new construction they undertake?

On a happier note, we started rooting the tree branches I got last week (a couple of friends responded to my last post and showed up to help). We also grafted some white sapotes. This Wednesday I am going to try grafting some avocado seedlings. We will see in a number of months of how well we did. We don't have to wait around for the city or until some big group starts distributing and planting fruit trees everywhere. Once we learn the propagation skills for trees we can do it ourselves.

And to end on another positive wave length, there is a new gleaning project forming in the city (we had our first meeting). Anyone interested can go to and join the Google email discussion group there and get updated on the project. All the food that is harvested from local trees will go to food pantries and programs like the Free Farm Stand.

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