Monday, June 1, 2009

“Dryad-maids together; your gifts I sing”

If I could sum up my feelings right at the moment into one word it would be gratefulness. If a person doesn't get a chance to feel grateful I would guess that would be a sad situation, because it is a great way of feeling high. A sense of being connected to that love energy out there. Maybe this weekly writing should just be a prayer blog, counting my blessings out loud.

This week again I got to work with some new people in my life and that was fun. And the Free Farm Stand this week was particularly energetic. I just reported last week that some of my dearest helpers were gone because of summer (or school graduation) and yesterday a new batch of volunteers came by to help. It was really fabulous and I was especially pleased that we got the plant table up to give away the seedlings that were in need of a home. Also, Page and Jay showed up for their first time and were helpful to the max; I especially appreciated not having to take photos to document the scene. I think Page took over 100 pictures!

For the first time I truly harvested only the surplus lettuce in my backyard garden, leaving some for Angie and I to eat later in the week. I knew I had gotten a lot of lettuce from the farmer's market so I decided not to pick all of ours. It turned out at the end of the day I still had a little lettuce left that I didn't give away that I will take to the soup kitchen if it holds up. On the very local table besides the lettuce, we had some mint that I had picked (I really like this variety of wintergreen mint that I am growing in two gardens), more fava beans from Rhode Island garden (25lbs), some misc. greens from there too, chamomile and flowers from Treat Commons, and loquats from my tree. Loquats are a great fruit to grow though getting a known variety that makes the sweetest fruit would be ideal (I now have a lot of seedlings that I want to try grafting sometime when I can find another tree that makes tasty fruit) The loquat trees I know of around here are crazy tall, needing a crane to harvest them. Or a good tree climber with a safety harness. I have a 14 foot tall orchard ladder and can only get to some of my loquats. I must admit I have a bit of fear of heights, but I do manage to get up on tall ladders to pick fruit. It is wonderful and sad to be on top of a tall ladder next to a tall tree loaded with fruit. I can pick a lot in a short time, but then when I look further up I can see fruit I can't reach. Jo gave me a great professional fruit picking bag that makes it easier to pick fruit, but my pole picker didn't work with the loquats. Right now it is the beginning of the fun fruit season here, apricots are in the market and there are trees in our neighborhood that are loaded with green fruit. Again I would sing a praise to fruit trees and recommend everyone plant one where they have space. I am still working with park and recreation to plant more fruit trees in the park here.

Getting back to the very local table, throughout the day people came by with garden gifts to share with everyone. Carla's surplus kale got the prize for being the most beautiful delicious looking kale I have seen in a while. Because I wasn't at the table I didn't see all the things that people brought, but I noticed some beautiful chard at one point. Also, Pam Pierce's husband brought a number of bags of produce, including some lettuce, herbs, and cilantro (I am not sure I saw it all). Nancy came by with some oregano and thyme from her container garden. Two people brought lemons. The plant/garden table was loaded with seedlings. This week I potted up plants with the Jamestown kids (our last workday for now). I also got a donation of seedlings from a gardener who visited the stand for the first time last week and on Tuesday his daughter dropped off a couple of flats of tomatoes, eggplant, and hot pepper starts. Tori and Davin with eco-sf showed up with several trays of seedlings too which was really great.

Again we had a lot of left-overs from the local farmers including zucchini which is starting to come in now. I actually picked up the bread this week because our regular driver was out of town. The man at Acme bakery was so nice and generous and gave me enough bread to fill a small station wagon. If I had really tried I probably could have stuffed more in and he had more to give away. At some point towards the very end I think we ran out of bread.

I have been giving out reusable cloth bags that Christy got somewhere and also I have a big stash of clear plastic produce bags I got from a closed bakery (and people have been bringing their used bags too). I have been thinking about the problem of plastic grocery bags and how to teach people to get less dependent on them. I know the Ferry Building Farmers market now no longer carries plastic bags. They sell for a quarter bio-bags that are made with cornstarch or something and they completely break down in the compost.

Another fun thing that happened at the stand on Sunday was that Bay Area Source had their zine release party on the grass and brought their ice cream making equipment with them (check out the slide show...the can is is the ice cream maker). The ice cream (both vegan and non-vegan) was very popular with everyone, especially the kids. I love the concept of having other free almost vegan educational or cultural events going on in the park next to the Free Farm Stand and it goes back to my idea of having a free farmers market in the park instead of just a lonely farm stand.

On Friday Ian came out to our regular workday at Rhode Island and we picked more fava beans. We also planted more potato towers and did some watering. I didn't realize how much work there is to do there so if anyone wants to garden, right now that is a great place to go if you have time available on Friday mornings. There is more planting to do and watering and harvesting.

On Saturday a bunch of people came over and helped extract honey from our bee hive. We got over ninety pounds of honey or eight plus gallons. If I can get some in jars by next week we will give some out at the stand. My new friend Andrew who is a member of the SF Bee Association like me and has a hive on a roof south of Market came and helped the whole day. I got excited because he reads Latin and Greek (something I wish they taught in schools). He was telling me about the Greeks who wrote about bees and he is now reading the Georgics published in 29BCE by the Roman poet Virgil, a book about rural life and farming. In the Georgics IV Vigil writes: "Of air-born honey, gift of heaven, I now take up the tale. Upon this theme no less". This kind of history thrills me, knowing that there is nothing new under the sun.

The title for this blog is also from Virgil. Dryads I just learned are tree nymphs.

Someone suggested I use Twitter so people could follow me and learn where I am gardening at the moment and other up to the minute updates. I guess I am going to try it. It is on the sidebar...

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