Monday, May 4, 2009

The Season of Garden Greens and Lemons

I am back from my three day trip out of town. It was a totally surreal trip for me to spend time in the suburbs outside Denver. I am familiar with suburbs since I grew up in one, but I still felt like I was on another planet. I started a poem when I was there:

I missed the boat a long time ago to be normal

at an early age I got off the path

As soon as I got home I was anxious to get out into the gardens. First I went over to the Esperanza Garden where there was going to be a work day preparing the garden for the grand opening next Saturday May 9th. Like I said last week this garden might not be around in two months, but people are planting things in pots and annuals in the ground. I planted some lettuce and a yellow zucchini and will come back hopefully in the middle of the week to plant some pole beans. I think if we can get one crop of something edible out of the garden before it gets developed that will be great. At the opening I think I am going to be there doing a workshop on growing potatoes in towers and tomatoes upside down in pots. I then went over to Treat Commons and harvested a big trash bag full of chard and kale for the free farm stand.
Our greens
I guess it has been raining a bit which is great news. It was raining a little when we set up the stand, but for the most part the day was clear and we had another large crowd with a large amount of food that I brought over in a van from the soup kitchen where I work the first Sunday of the month. We are still in the season of garden greens which filled our table.
We again had large amounts of basil which should be out of season now and were probably grown in a green house since it is supposedly locally grown. Nosrat, our neighbor who lives around the corner and is an excellent cook, took a sample of the different things we had on the table, including basil, walnuts, young garlic, and some cilantro and went home and blended up some tasty vegan pesto. He brought it back and shared it with everyone served on some bread. Ashly came later and brought some fava bean spread made with curry that we put out for people to taste (the fava beans came from 18th and Rhode Island…I plan to go there Friday for the workday and will probably harvest more for the stand). Later a gardener in Treat Commons came by with her young daughter to bring some cookies to share. It was her daughter's idea who just got some cookies from a new cookie shop on Valencia to bring some over to share at the stand. I didn't say anything about them not being vegan and just gave them away any way becausethe gesture was so sweet (the cookies I am sure were too).

A couple of people came by with lemons from their trees or neighbors trees. One woman brought both Meyer lemons and Ponderosa lemons that are big and round and have a thick rind.
Can you tell which one is the Ponderosa Lemon?
Page and Margret came by with some offerings from their garden (actually I am not sure which garden things came from since they grow things all over, including a garden at Holy Innocents Church in Noe Valley, a rooftop garden where they live also in Noe Valley, and a garden in Stanford where they work). They brought one bunch of celery, a few carrot thinnings, some lettuce and arugula, and a bag of gigantic ponderosa lemons from a neighbor.
Page told me that the gleaning project he is organizing at Stanford is going ahead. Page teaches a course in sustainability there and has gotten interested in getting the fruit trees growing there (in the area where the faculty lives) picked by his students. Apparently they have identified 140 fruit trees and have them located with a GPS unit and have put them on a Google map. They are going to eventually harvest the trees and Page will bring the fruit in his truck to the stand.

I wanted to report that another reporter came by the stand who is doing a piece for KALW radio about farmer’s markets. He interviewed me for maybe five minutes and other people too. The popularity of local food growing continues. I just got a link to a four minute video made by students at City College about the farm stand and I have included it on the sidebar of this blog. My hope that what grows out of all this talk (especially on my part) is that we can find the energy and people with the time to grow more food so we don’t have to rely so much on the left-over’s from the farmers market (though it is itself a great way of gleaning organic relatively local food).

Every week I learn about some new cool local gardening event or project taking off. Here are two:

From an email:

“I just learned that the City of Lafayette formed a Sustainability Committee and that East Bay Municipal Utility District is allowing the City to utilize about 2 acres by the Lafayette Reservoir for their community garden sustainability project, which may interest you. The citizens there are very interested in this and you may find partnerships there with the many wealthier organizations in town. They are also building a gazillion dollar state of the art Library which will be completed I believe this year or early next year.”

From the permaculture list serve:

food forest for food first

Posted by: "wildseed christopher" wildheartgardens

Sun May 3, 2009 9:40 pm (PDT)

Who wants to help create a mini food forest at Food First?!
Our goal is to create a high profile permaculture garden that will be seen by hundreds of visitors who come to Food First from all parts of the world. The food produced on site will supplement the lunches that FF provides for its staff and interns. The installation will be only us volunteers so please come out and help if you have a few hours to spare over the weekend – It will be a lot of fun!
The plan:
We will remove much of the existing ornamental and invasive bushes and shrubs, create rainwater catchments, earthworks with swales and infiltration basins, spread a heavy layer of mulch, and plant a bunch of food producing plants, natives and insectaries.
398 60th St. at Colby (near the Oakland/Berkeley border)
For those of you unfamiliar with the organization, Food First is an amazing Non-Profit organization working to change the global food system. "The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First shapes how people think by analyzing the root causes of global hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation and developing solutions in partnership with movements working for social change." Check it out at
May 8-10 (Fri, Sat, Sun) 10am -5pm
Come whatever day(s) you can for as long as you want!
Please let me know if you are interested in bringing this project to fruition so I can organize enough tools and materials.
Vegetarian lunch will be provided :)
510 717 1299

I find things like this are very exciting. Wish I could get involved in everything!

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