Monday, November 16, 2009

The Greens Festival

While the Green Festival was happening South of Market, the Free Farm Stand was having it’s own “Greens Festival”, greens as in chard, kale, mustard, collards, and amaranth (and no green as in money). Here is the scoop. A field at Green Gulch Farm was about to get plowed under so a number of Zen students gleaned the greens and we scored 40 boxes of fresh, delicious and nutritious organic greens. I takes a lot of time and work to glean a field of greens and I am so appreciative of the work my friend Joanne and her fellow zen students do. I dropped off more than half of the greens at two pantries on the Friday and Saturday and a two boxes were distributed in low income neighborhoods in Oakland. We also had some chard that was gleaned from a former myfarm garden in the city (I think 4 boxes) and later in the day another myfarmer showed up with some baby chard and other greens. Because there were so many greens I postponed harvesting the many greens growing in two gardens right now. As you might remember last week, 14lbs of greens were harvested from just the Permaculture Garden and I think there are that many more ready to be picked now.

Our greens festival was very well attended and there were lots of things going on. Tom came in from Santa Rosa with a lot of different squash, including the huge and handsome blue Zappallo winter squash that was too big to put on the table. I told Lauren this squash was so beautiful I was thinking of sleeping with it (I didn’t). Tom wrote this little piece about this squash that I am sharing an excerpt with you here :

Iris and I collected the seed to grow this squash in the little
town where she was born in the Peruvian Andes. It was
grown by a friend of ours here in Sonoma Co. Like all winter
squash it can be prepared in many ways. I am including an
easy receipt for cream of zapallo soup in Spanish. …
the sharing of food and recipes amongst people

has got to be one of the most ancient and honorable ways to
build friendships and community. Sure this large squash is
intimidating, but think of it as an opportunity to share and to grow.

I have some seeds that Tom scooped out and I dried to plant next year. We also had some small kabocha squash from 18th and Rhode Island and a box of mixed squash and gourds from Green Gulch. Bryce scooped out the seeds of the squashes, many which were dark orange inside, and shared them with people to take home and roast and eat. At least one person took seeds home to plant. I told him that unless the flowers were isolated the bees will pollinate them and if other squashes were growing nearby they were cross pollinated resulting in something different from the parent. You might not get something edible, but maybe a decorative gourd like squash.

All the greens were given out except one box (people were taking home a lot of greens). I took the extras home and made a lot of baked kale, one of my new favorite ways of cooking greens. I had mostly Dino Kale (also called Tuscan or Lacinato Kale) which works best, but any kind will be good. I strip off the leaves from the stems unless they are thin and tender or I want more fiber and like to chew. I wash them and let them drain a bit. I put the kale in a bowl and mix with a small amount of olive oil (or olive oil with crushed garlic). Then I put them on a baking tray. I try to make one layer of leaves if I want crunchy “kale chips”. Or you can pile on more leaves on the tray and have baked kale. The oven should be pre- heated to about 300-350˚, the hotter the faster they bake but you have to watch them more carefully. You take them out whenever they are as crispy or chewy as you like.

I actually started eating large amounts of kale starting Saturday. I made kale salad for a pot luck, which is another good easy way to serve kale. I had some left over so I brought to the stand thinking it is a good dish to share with people and show them a way to use kale. Pancho served it right next to boxes of kale and talked to everyone about how it was made (I think he is a good saleman especially to the Spanish speaking crowd).

Here is the recipe:I just took 1/3rd cup of lemon juice, 1/3rd cup of soy sauce or tamari, 1/3rd cup of sesame oil (not toasted) and mixed with two bunches of curly kale that were washed and drained. Any kind of kale would work, but tender curly kale is our favorite. On top we sprinkle roasted pumpkin or sunflower seed. I also like to sometimes add ground toasted sesame seeds.

When the kale salad ran out Yasue who gardens in Treat Commons brought leftover salad that she had made for an event Saturday night. It was hands down the most delicious quinoa salad I have ever eaten and I must get the recipe from her. I actually didn’t know that it had quinoa in it, maybe I just scarfed it down too fast to notice, but it looked like coleslaw with red and green cabbage, carrots, seaweed in it and some special dressing mixed in. Earlier my friend Craig who has a taco truck with solar panels on it and plans to run a vegan restaurant out of it, came by and parked across the street. When all the salad was gone he pulled out another green salad with all kinds of things in it and that was soon all eaten. Then he cooked up some really yummy noodles with vegan sausage. Though it was getting towards the end of the day for the stand, somehow a lot of people came by and ate all the food. Pancho was surprised by all the local kids who were playing in the park coming by and asking for salad and then really eating it.

While the greens festival was happening, across the street there was something else going on besides the rockin' solar powered vegan taco truck. Someone had dumped the entire contents of someone's apartment in the parking lot and the site became an instant free store. Some of our shoppers went over and brought the stand more baskets to put produce in. I heard stories of good finds and saw some of the treasures people had dug up. It was a non-stop scene for hours of people picking through junk. I really believe every neighborhood should have a free store that is well stocked and taken care of.

On Saturday I went with some friends to Berkeley to attend the California Rare Fruit Growers monthly meeting. I was particularly interested in the topic for the meeting which was fruit tree propagation. Although I have had some luck grafting plums, pears, and apples, I really want to learn how to propagate avocado trees. It is easy to grow avocados by seed, but you have to graft them if you want to get reliable fruit of good quality. Also, if you want to have avocados year round you need to propagate different varieties.

This club that I am a member of is really the best resources for meeting pother fruit growers and learning the skills of growing fruit trees. If we are serious about growing more local food we have to learn these skills. I lucked out that at the meeting I was able to pick up a branch of an Bacon avocado tree and I am going to use that to try splicing or grafting it onto some young seedlings I have grown. I also got a personal lesson from one of the old timers there that has had success propagating avocados. I am going to have a very small workshop Wednesday afternoon at 1:30pm at my house where I will show a video about grafting avocados and then we will try it ourselves. I am interested in having people attend who are really serious about learning these skills so we can grow fruit trees and distribute them free to our neighbors.

Before we went to the meeting we stopped by the edible schoolyard and participated in a work day there. The school, MLK Middle School, is truly an inspiring place, and it is hard to believe it exists, it is almost surreal. Just the amount of land they have to grow food on for a school is amazing (apparently some of the land was formerly a parking lot). I was blown out that in the city they have a deer problem chewing the lower leaves of the espaliered trees. I also got to meet Wendy Johnson of Green Gulch and author of the fabulous book “Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate”. Wendy told me every public school in Berkeley has a garden though I don’t know if they take the garden as serious as they do at the Edible Schoolyard. We have a lot of catching up to do with Berkeley here in San Francisco and I think that will mean digging up some parking lots just to get space to grow gardens (I don’t think we are at the point where we can dig up streets). There are a lot of locals talking the talk like the mayor, but I am waiting for the walking part. It is up to us to make this garden revolution happen in San Francisco. I know of a number of people wanting to plant a garden either in a backyard or some other place or who need help maintaining existing gardens. People are often writing me because they are excited about the Free Farm Stand and want to help. This is the way to make the stand more real, by growing more food to share with those in need.


Dolores said...

I thought of you today, Tree, as I sat in my gardening clothes on a bench in Oakland and was soon joined by a man asking if I knew where a Food Bank is. He continued to tell me details about his lack of work and only having a bag of chips. Every now and then he would say, "I guess that's how life is." I could give him some change and tell him about an upcoming dinner at a church on Sunday--but I so wished there was a green and money-free farm stand in my neighborhood!

Anna, The Lemon Lady said...

What about City Slickers Farm? Something was in the Oakland Tribune today or yesterday, about a free to sliding scale for farm grown produce in Oakland. It may be new though.
BTW, I clicked on over from Tree's blog. Happy Harvesting.