Monday, June 15, 2009

Flower Child vs Farmer Dude

Yesterday’s Free Farm Stand was a real whirlwind of activity. Besides a number of close friends that showed up for the first time, there were at least five other first timers that came by either with produce to share or to help. Plus there were a lot of people with a lot of different questions. I certainly wasn’t free enough to take many pictures let alone talk to everyone that I wanted to talk to more in depth. A lot of people came by to shop and by the end of the day we were pretty much out of everything.

The biggest harvest this week was the 62 pounds of loquats and 18 pounds of cherry plums that we picked on Saturday mostly from one tree next door to the secret garden and the plum located in the Secret Garden (read about that later). We also had some lemons that I picked from our Meyer lemon tree and I think Clare brought some too. We had two pounds of mustard greens from 18th and Rhode Island (and a handful of fava beans) and two pounds of kale from the Secret Garden. I harvested 25 Baby Gem and Spreckles lettuce from the Esperanza Sustainability Center Garden. Page’s son Forest, who is temporarily taking over Page’s garden and gleaning responsibilities brought by some artichokes, and then he stuck around to help. Margaret brought by some produce from Holy Innocents Church including carrots and rosemary (I am not sure what else). Maggie brought by some beautiful kale from some garden and at some point we had more fresh lettuce (I forgot who brought it). My friend Michael who is in a wheelchair brought mustard greens from his garden. Christy brought some chamomile and a lettuce too from Corona Heights Community Garden. She also came by with a woman named Ania who brought a number of extra broccoli seedlings and some jars of produce she canned too much of, including pickled carrots, green beans, and jam. Ania just sent me an email about a group she is involved with called transition ( This is another group trying to achieve the same goals as many other groups around including the Free Farm Stand (“Local Self-Reliance for a Post-Petroleum World”). Though I am not sure if I believe we will ever be in a post petroleum world. Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by all the groups out there doing the same kind of work? Is it possible for more groups out there to merge or does it matter?

Molly came by with some nopales growing near her house that she prepared and put in plastic ziplock bags. That was a lot of effort! As we were closing up at the end, a man and his young daughter came by to get some food and he got some of the leftover braising greens mix and some rosemary and loquats. Then a neighbor showed up with a few nice lettuces she just picked and he got some of that too.

I was walking down the street the other day and I saw a poster in a window that said “Hope” with a picture of Obama. I do think there is a lot of hope in the air, but for me it mostly doesn’t come from the top down. These days it comes from the exciting people I am meeting like the woman Binal, a naturopathic doctor that Pancho brought over Sunday. She helps run the free or gift-economy Karma Clinic in Berkeley ( Binal has such a warm and beautiful presence and I think we share a lot of similar dreams (like forming a household/community dedicated to healing and service and doing things with no charge). We looked at the garden together and she knew a lot about some of the herbs we were growing there.

On Friday at 18th and Rhode Island we had a good turnout to work in the garden. We have been planting more food including basil, tomato, and edamame seedlings. I also was excited to plant some sunflower plants for cutting. I think putting in a long row of sunflowers really made my day. I love planting flowers and I would love to plant more in the future if I ever had unlimited amounts of growing space. I do believe we need beautiful gardens to stroll in, places in the urban environment to heal our soul and senses, places to let our spirits roam free, to smell the roses and to tip toe through the tulips, bamboo groves to meditate in, flowers to talk to and wear in our hair. Not just farms to grow huge amounts of produce for the people. We need the flower child as well as the farmer dude.

On Saturday we had just enough people to pick a lot of fruit. David who lives next to the Secret Garden let us in his backyard to pick his 30 or 40 foot loquat tree that was loaded with perfectly ripe fruit. We carried in the 14ft tall orchard ladder and the extendable pole pruner. Dave got up on the ladder and picked by hand all that he could reach and then he clipped the fruit off with the pruner. Below Clare, Renae, and I held a plastic tarp out and caught the falling fruit. This method worked out pretty good. Later others joined the fun and we had Erin, Julia, Nave, and Pancho picking cherry plums, loquats and harvesting lettuce and kale, and planting more lettuce. We wound up picking 62 pounds of loquats from two trees though most came from Dave’s tree (and there are probably another 50 pounds on the tree and hundreds of pounds of cherry plums that are not ripe yet).
On Saturday there was also an event that I wrote about last week which was a queer bike tour of gardens in the Mission ending at an art gallery in SOMA where there was a Free Farm Stand set up. I actually gave them a little extra produce and some basil plants. I heard is that on their tour of the different gardens, gardeners would give them some surplus vegetables for their stand. I wonder if there are any pictures out there of the event, especially of their Free Farm Stand? My friends told me it was really great. I love the idea of having a regular bike rider or two visiting community gardens on Saturdays and connecting with gardeners to see if there is any surplus that could be picked up to be given away. I have a bicycle cart that could be used for this purpose.

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