I am back at last from Peoria Illinois and am really appreciative of our non-frost climate (though before I left I did lose some delicate plants in pots to cold). Coming back I found the gardens growing happily with kale and fava beans and white sapotes on my backyard tree. I heard that the farm stand before Christmas that I missed went well and learned that I can get away sometimes and others can take over for me. Hooray! How many times should I repeat myself for the thankfulness I feel for not only having the opportunity to be of service in the world, but to get the chance to meet such great people in the work I do. It really makes it all worth it.
I have been back a week and already I have been caught up in a whirlwind of activity. Some things are going fast forward as I will explain later. There was a great work day at 18th and Rhode Island on Friday. Last week David and Kevin planted a lot of new fruit trees and that made me happy. Apples, pears, jujube's, and persimmons. Plus Golden Rasberries. There are lot more trees coming and I think the plan is to have 100 trees planted total, all planted close together and kept small. So Friday was the day to plant two cherry trees and a pomegranate. Besides our adult volunteers we have been getting now a number of parents with kids showing up. I enjoy working with them and especially getting a chance to plant a tree with a young child. It is a real blast. The gardens were growing fairly lush and hadn't been picked in a while and we harvested 25lbs of kale, chard, collards, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. The broccoli was so sweet I think due to the cold weather.
I also picked 5lbs of the most beautiful and tender kale from Esperanza Garden. And delicious.
The Free Farm Stand was another lovely event. Someone has been dropping off an Eatwell Farm CSA box at my house every week and that is such a beautiful gift to share with people. We also continue to get a shipment of "industrial organic" left over produce from Veritable Vegetable that this time of year is especially welcome…organic organs, mandarins, avocadoes, and mangoes. Though the amounts of produce are decreased, we had a nice selection, including some handsome Brussels sprouts on their stem. A woman came by with citrus from her mom's trees in San Jose including Calamansi (the Philippine name for Calamondin fruit) and tangerines. It is a small round orange or lime like fruit that tastes mostly sour, with a touch of sweetness in the skin. She said her family uses it a lot in cooking, throwing it in everything and also making juice with it. The tangerines were very sweet and juicy. Nosrat who lives right around the corner came by with a bag of Rocoto hot peppers from a plant I had given him and some sorrel. I really get tickled when I find out that a plant I gave away is growing happily in a new home and then to get some surplus produce from that plant is double the excitement and really what the stand is all about. I noticed when loading pictures this week how man kids there were. Wayne and Cristina who took the photos did a great job, and especially Wayne captured all the cute babies I can't help but share.
We also had a fairly good plant give away table and Mike showed up and took over potting up seedlings and giving them away. We mostly had lettuce and chard seedlings (the different colors of chard came from seed that another neighbor gave me from his father in Sebastopol. He actually came by later in the day and I told him I was giving away plants grown from his seed. I am looking for people that may like to grow seedlings for the Free Farm Stand and the gardens where we grow food to give away. Please contact me and I can provide seeds, soil, and some lessons and seedling care.
The best local garden news is that the Free Farm Stand may have a farm in the city. On Saturday I looked at a vacant 1/3 of an acre lot on Gough and Eddy Sts. that is owned by St. Paulus Church. Megan from Welcome Ministry and Case who is a Lutheran Service volunteer are working to develop the site to grow food for people in need. They have a 3-5 year use agreement from the church and there are plans to talk to them further about their plans (none for the lot right now). They have invited us to help them out to grow food to give out at the stand and to people in the neighborhood (mostly seniors and low income families). I am working with several people to see if we should jump right in, even though it is not in the Mission. It seems like an opportunity not to be missed especially since it seems so far like we are on the same page together. On Saturday we came up with some preliminary plans and they have already begun some volunteer work days on Saturday (this weekend they will be making a ramp to access the garden area more easily. I won't be there but probably in coming weeks I will be shifting some of my time there). One great thing is that there is a lot to do there and we can employ a many volunteers who want to learn how to grow a lot of food. We will also be in need of a lot of things like tools, wheelbarrows, glove, plumbers, electricians, handy persons, etc. Here are some pictures of this lot that has so much potential:
This lot is not far from the Hayes Valley farm that is supposedly moving ahead. This is the vacant lot at Laguna and Oak (where the freeway was torn down). I have heard they (I know some of the people involved but I don't know if they have formed a group yet or have a non-profit organization) got approved for a big chunk of change from the Mayor's Office and they will be building a greenhouse and developing an educational site (permaculture oriented?), besides growing food eventually. I was told that there are different ideas of having some sort of Farmer's Market there. One idea is having a conventional farmer's market there the other is an alternative market of some sort (I even heard the idea of having all economics represented). Sunday I was asked what I thought about setting up Free Farm Stand Two there.
There is also a Homeless Connect Garden that I is being developed on Octavia and Lilly (http://www.nowpublic.com/health/sf-garden-communities-octavia-lily-st-garden-sf-homeless-p). So that part of town may soon become a breadbasket of the city.