Monday, April 13, 2009

Holy Week Farm Stand

Every day is holy like every day is an unbirthday and we can celebrate and break bread together. On Sunday I was sitting in a synagogue listening to an Easter sermon next to a two week old baby and thinking about how perfect a thing she was.

When you think about it we are really blessed to have such a perfect world that at the same time is so imperfect.

And gardening is the perfect thing to be doing in these times. It makes you see the perfectness and patterns and helps you appreciate the miracle of it all.

The Free Farm Stand was pretty good this week though I felt like I was too busy and I didn't talk to all the wonderful people and friends that came by. It was a little like a hugfest and it included a kiss on the cheek from a curvy woman named 13 with an interesting piercing on her lip wearing a tight bunny suit . Ok that helped make my day as well as seeing my friend Harrison who she came with.

Piles of farm fresh organic produce and several pounds of lettuce from our gardens. What else is there to say? I was surprised that we got a lot of basil (two kinds) from the farmer's market; I wonder where that is grown so early in the year, probably greenhouse grown. Yeah greenhouses!

Several people came by with produce from their gardens which is the really exciting part to me! Pam Pierce who is one of the wisest gardeners around (and we are lucky to have her in San Francisco), brought by some surplus vegetables from her garden (really beautiful chard, red mustard greens, and leeks), other people brought lemons, and another woman brought some spearmint. I got to ask Pam some garden questions and she got me worried about late blight in tomatoes, which I haven't seen yet in any of the gardens I have worked in (as far as I know). I read her blog on a regular basis and there is always something I learn from it ( Molly a gardener in Treat Commons came by with some delicious homemade organic strawberry jam that she made and I served it on matzoh. Sara brought the two biggest artichokes from San Francisco State (the garden that students planted there) and some greens too.

Tater Towers update

I just came up with the name tater towers and I am happy to report that most are doing their thing…green potato shoots breaking through the mulch and growing well so far (a few of the newer ones haven't sprouted, but the ones planted March 20th are well on their way.

Tater Towers at !8th and Rhode Island planted March 13 a month ago

I have been adding mulch to the ones that you cover as they grow. I have just scored a lot more sprouting potatoes and want to plant more towers. I could use more wire mesh as I want to try some more lasagna style tater towers. I have talked to a number of people that are trying this out and I think this method is suddenly becoming very popular. Jim Bishop sent me a link to his blog Yards for Farms where he wrote about potato towers too I am still looking for someone to let me put a tower on their sidewalk garden. But if anyone has some odd sunny space even with concrete that wants to try this out and bring surplus potatoes to the stand let me know and I can help set you up. Maybe this Saturday we will plant some tater towers at Esperanza. By the way I am trying to grow these in various containers, including the terrible compost bins that SLUG used to distribute. They come in half and I have planted potatoes in the top half.

Just planted

Last week Allegra sent me an article about growing tomatoes planted upside down in some kind of commercial product called the topsy turvy. That caught my interest and I googled growing tomatoes upside down and found that there is a lot written on the subject. One of the advantages of growing tomatoes this way is that you can grow them where you don't have space otherwise just like we do with the tater towers. Check out this photo from (they have other pictures too).

Here are some photos of a vegetable tower from Kevin who with Starhawk built it with a class they were teaching.

I met a woman yesterday at the stand that grows tomatoes in hanging pots which is almost the same thing. Anyway tomorrow I want to try it out with the Jamestown kids and I will report back on the how we did it. With all these space saving methods garden soil and mulch is needed and it would be nice if we could have free neighborhood resource centers where people could pick up these things. The centers could be stocked with all the free stuff around for gardens off of places like freecycle or craigslist or stables. I am not a big advocate of going out and buying soil and manure unless one has no other easy option.

Esperanza Sustainability Center update

On Saturday I helped dig some beds in the peace mandala at the new garden next to CELL space on Florida at 19th Street. Earlier in the week I attended a meeting about the garden and what people's visions are. Jonathan actually got a written agreement from the owner to use the land for free until it is sold.

I am not sure how much time I have to contribute to this project though it is very enticing for me to get sucked in. They have a nice space that can be transformed into a beautiful garden and education center (and they are also building a greenhouse). I am trying to be open to other ways of doing things and when the idea of having a business component to the project came up I tried to just listen rather than give my standard do it free rap. I guess they plan on buying insurance because of the arrangement with the owner and they will have other costs like water and some materials. There idea is to have workshops and other things which will cost money, but that no one will be turned away for lack of funds and they are going to go light on bugging people to pay…like maybe a contribution box in the corner. If they did that I could hardly object to capitalism light. There is a new movement now to bring back barter and make it fashionable again (the Time Bank is an example) and I am still uncomfortable with that compared to just trusting the universe to keep you going. If I wind up teaching workshops there I am going to give this more thought and whether I would be stretching my ideals too much by have a fee (though no one would be turned away or made to feel guilty). It sounds like Saturdays there will be ongoing work happening there.

Common Vision Tree Planting Report

On Friday afternoon at 18th and Rhode Island Common Vision people showed up to plant a apple/pear tree fence. They brought 21 donated trees and they dug holes and planted them at a 45 degre angle. The idea is that they will grow together and make a fence or hedge of fruiting trees. The event reminded me of going to a Rainbow gathering. A few of the people I talked to were semi-nomadic and had no one place they lived. There all seemed like rainbow people and I liked there energy and idealism. And they plant fruit trees like a band of Johnny aAppleseeds. From February through May they travel in their buses planting trees in schools and other places. They brought their drums and made some nice sounds and there was also portable mural painting and popcorn. It was a fun and inspiring day.

The Free Farm Stand got in the news last week after Africa Jones came around and interviewed us for Free Speech Radio News for a radio show on growing food in the city. Again I am trying something new here and have been reluctantly accepting interviews (I mostly like to remain anonymous since the project speaks for itself). You can listen to the interview by scrolling way down the right sidebar and clicking on the play button. I could really use some technical web help here because the way I got this on the page took some effort and I would rather have an audio player that was smaller and less of an advertisement.

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