Monday, May 11, 2009

Beautiful Bounty

I want to start off saying that I have become overwhelmed this last week with all the amazing sweet and energetic people I have been in touch with. Besides being overwhelmed with such spring bounty of produce, the bay area seems bountiful now with local garden projects galore and people wanting to plug in somehow.

Talking about being overwhelmed Christy sent me an email about how she is overwhelmed with the produce from the Farmer's Market. Here is her words with a great suggestion that I think we can follow up on next week.:

"Hey Tree,

I had an idea after being at the farm stand yesterday. Do you think it would work to reserve a section of one of the tables for the food that the community and home gardeners like you and some of us donate to the stand? Maybe with a little sign indicating that? I think it might spur more people to bring stuff. For me it's a little overwhelming to see all the produce that the commercial growers just throw away piled up there, and it's just not as special as knowing one of your neighbors worked to produce food to share with you. It would also be a gentle lesson for folks who visit the stand on the number and variety, even if small quantity, of things that are being grown by their neighbors, and might inspire them more to grow stuff themselves."

The Free Farm Stand this week was well attended this week, and we had a good number of great helpers running it. Christy in her email also noted that the popularity is growing with the "younger, hip, diet-conscious folks" and that she saw "fewer Latino and other immigrant families". I do see the stand becoming more popular. One of my goals has been to see the stand bringing neighbors together every week and that is happening. And I continue to strive to make this local food movement accessible to all especially those on tight budgets and low incomes. I am thinking that is more and more of us these days.

The amount of produce this week from three of the gardens I work in was phenomenal: 48lbs of fava beans from 18th and Rhode Island, 6lbs from my backyard, and 7 ½ lbs from the Secret Garden. I also harvested 6 ½ lbs of greens from 18th and Rhode Island and 5 lbs of baby lettuce from the secret garden. I also picked lemons from my neighbor's tree. Other people brought more mustard greens, and peppermint and peppermint starter plants, and chamomile. One woman brought produce from a CSA box that didn't get picked up. We also gave out left over flowers that originally came from Whole Foods and sweet pea flowers from Treat Commons (it was Mother's Day and everyone loved the flowers).

We also gave out a lot of seedlings, mostly tomatoes and artichokes. It was really nice having a new person around named Pancho who spoke Spanish with people. I also brought a small camp stove and boiled up some shelled fava beans to show people how to cook them and what they taste like. People loved them and luckily we had a lot to give away (I also got a box of them from the farmer's market delivery).

Report on last week as it relates to the Free Farm Stand

Last Tuesday we had a great work day in Treat Commons ( a number of new people showed up to volunteer) and we planted some trombone squash and cucumbers, plus thinned carrots and did some weeding. Then at the Secret Garden the kids harvested 6 ½ lbs of fava beans that grew in a very shady part of the garden. We also mulched the potatoes growing in the tater towers. All but one of the towers is doing well.

Last Wednesday which was the first Wednesday of the month and I went to the SF Permaculture Guild meeting. I mainly went to hear Laurence Schechtman ,"Laurence Of Berkeley" talk about the project I have heard about and mentioned in my blog last year called Neighborhood Vegetables It is a group that encourages and organizes neighbors to help each other grow food. What I learned from Laurence is a good tip on having a successful meeting: "A meeting is never complete without everyone having a job to do and someone to do it with." The meeting he organizes ends with a "responsibility circle" where people tell the group what responsibility they are going to take on. I just signed up for Neighborhood Vegetables and joined the San Francisco group. I really don't know where this will lead. I like the idea of neighbors helping each other grow food by planting gardens together and that is why I joined. Though right now I am pretty busy trying to be an urban farmer and growing food to give away to those who don't have the land to grow food or the time to garden (though I think everyone can probably make some time to grow some food somewhere). I had forgotten that whenever I go to the guild meeting now I see not only so many people I know, but meet others who are usually interesting in different ways.

Thursday I had one new friend Brian help me harvest fava beans from my backyard (6lbs from another shady garden and I realized later that I missed some). I moved a lot of the seedlings out of the garden and am ready to start planting more seeds.

The On Friday we had a great workday at 18th and Rhode Island. About six people showed up to help. We spent the morning harvesting some of the fava beans on the hill. I was really surprised that when we finished harvesting we had a big trash can bag full of fava beans. When I took them home to weigh them there were 48lbs of beans. We also harvested 6 ½ lbs of various greens, mostly Swiss chard and some lettuce. We also planted two avocado trees, a number of pineapple guava, sunchokes, stinging nettle, and some rocoto hot peppers.

On Saturday was the grand opening of the Esperanza Garden Sustainability Center. There was a great turnout and good music and food. The sound system was bike peddled generated and there was also a bike pedaled blender that made smoothies.

I had a mini-farm stand set up and next to me was a free lemonade stand made with big lemons from the tree of the dad and his young daughter who made it. The stand was sort of a bust I thought, not too many people seemed interested in the food nor seedlings I was giving away. Maybe the wrong kind of crowd I don't know. I did give a short hands on demonstration of how to build a tater tower and also growing tomatoes upside down. I met a woman there who has already tried this and she says it does work.

One last thing is that I have been corresponding with some people for a while online who are also doing similar "gift economy" work in different places. We have both been inspiring each other. On Saturday I got to meet Jeff for the first time at the Esperanza opening and then on Sunday he and two others, Pancho and Elizabeth came out to help at the stand. One of the things they are involved with is the Karma Kitchen. Read his blog about the Farmers Market comes to Karma Kitchen: I hope we can collaborate on wonderful projects in the future.

I thought there has been a lot of focus on the Free Farm Stand and less on the gardens that supply some of the food. So here is a slide show from the Secret Garden last week and the exciting delicious lettuce lawn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many of my neighbors on Florida Street and 19th near the new Hope Garden felt taken by surprise and a little put-off by the May 9th opening party. It felt exclusive -- very White. Where were the neighborhood invitations? None of the people I know saw an invite.

Some of us garden and participate in a local, multi-familial produce exchange. We wonder what makes the new Hope Garden communal.

This new Hope Garden lot is now filled with a mess of what looks like, well, junk -- seriously. Before there were nice grafitit/murals that are now half-covered with ugly brown paint -- it looks sloppy.

It used to be a little urban ecosystem: seasonal wild grass, fennel, dragon flies, local cats, songbirds, rodents and not to mention all the critters we can hardly see!

It was also nice to have some breathing space in between the buildings -- now there's half-baked human dreck behind a locked gate. And oh yeah, tubs of standing water just waiting for mosquitoes! WTH?

What I miss most is the Northern Mockinbird that would come to sing and display there each Spring -- right on the Cell Space roof! The Mocking Birds are back in the city but not our local cutie :(