Monday, September 14, 2009

The Free Fig Stand

The Free Farm Stand is generating a lot of excitement these days and I can understand why. The quality of the produce that we are giving away is fresh, beautiful, and healthy. Now we are getting a big line and when the weather is nice like it was yesterday the park fills with people and it becomes a real social scene. A lot of people wind up sitting or laying on the grass, talking to friends, and yesterday there was someone drumming and another person playing a beautiful didgeridoo. From my perspective the scene is not quite sustainable, because I think I need more help in running the show. We seem to have plenty of volunteers the day of the event, but I am still trying to figure out how to get help dealing with all the produce I collect. Maybe it is just a summer phenomena, but the amount of food that we had at the stand was so incredible, it must have been a record amount. I didn't even bring the winter squashes that we had grown or collected because we had so much. This includes a 39lb. pumpkin that we grew at the Permaculture garden that I don't know how to give away and it is too pretty to cut up. So the story is, tons of food I pick up in different places and sometimes different times, put in the van, unload at my house to make room for the bread pick-up, and then I reload the van with the same produce I unloaded earlier. It seems like the way I am doing things is a bit crazy, but it works for now.

Both tables were full: on the super local table we had the summer harvest of zucchini, tomatoes, basil, green beans, Rocoto hot peppers, and mint. Also, my friend Tom from Santa Rosa was in town and brought by 108lbs of apples he gleaned in Santa Rosa and 18lbs of tomatoes he grew and a few cucumbers too. Forest brought zucchini, tomatoes, apples, lemon, and green beans from his father's garden plot in Stanford. Lauren gleaned apples in Golden Gate Park. They were smaller this year than the ones I picked last year. Also, I brought applesauce to share from the apples I picked last week and Christina brought some too, and there was also some hot pepper jam that someone had brought to the stand a while back and I finally put it out to share. Nave brought apples too. Early Saturday morning I picked up from the Farmer's Market 14 boxes of chard, kale, beets, broccoli, and zucchini that were gleaned from the Green Gulch Farm. Later in the day I got over fifty boxes of figs left over from the farmer's market (plus a lot of other produce). By the end of the day everything was given away except two boxes of greens that I took today to the food bank. A number of people took boxes of soft or mushy figs home to make jam. Stay tuned and get ready for great bowel movements.

Antonio brought over his students from the Ecological Gardening course he is teaching and I spoke to them about the stand. I talked about my early inspiration gleaned from the diggers ( and fast forwarded to today and the local food growing movement and my involvement in it. I still read a lot of stuff on line and get emails about all these hip events centered around eating fresh, local, wild or organically/sustainable grown foods or even politically correct meat, that one has to pay a pretty penny for. To me (being perhaps a bit judgmental here), that is not what this current revolution is about. I hope I got that point across. Then they all went to the Secret Garden and helped prune trees and plant snap peas. Fantastic!

Last week I went over with two people to check out Lisa's garden on Guerrero and 26th and talk to her about what she would like to see happen with her garden space. It was very exciting and I think all three of us went away excited about this new gardening opportunity. Then yesterday another woman approached me about her backyard garden space on 18th and Dolores that she wants help with. I want to start to train people to not only learn how to grow a garden for the Free Farm Stand but be "Volunteer Garden Anchors". I even wrote something up about it that I might add to a volunteer section of this web site someday, though I am not sure if this seems a bit stuffy:

(4 hrs per week) Volunteer Garden Anchor:

  • Learn how to design a small backyard garden, maintain it, and grow food and flowers to share at the Free Farm Stand
  • Learn how to work with and keep volunteers happy and busy

The volunteer garden anchor will work with me and a team of other volunteers and the tenant whose backyard garden we will be working in the Mission. My approach will be very hands on and hopefully I can step back and let the garden anchor learn by doing. We will use all appropriate approaches to sustainable organic gardening including permaculture and bio-intensive techniques. The anchor will be responsible for general garden upkeep, planting, harvesting, and bringing the surplus to the Free Farm Stand.


Must be responsible (the volunteer garden anchor will have a key to the backyard) and some familiarity with gardening. The ideal person for this job would hopefully be passionate about growing local food and making it accessible to all, especially people on low incomes and tight budgets. 3 month commitment necessary.

Say are there any web designers out here that may want to design a real web site for this blog?

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