Monday, November 9, 2009

Parking Lots into Garden Plots

Recently people with backyards have been showing an interest in growing gardens and sharing their surplus with those in need. There was a lot of garden activity this past weekend and I loaned out a lot of tools and distributed seeds, garlic, and seedlings to help support backyard and vacant lot gardeners growing food. I have been thinking for a long time that we need a free garden resource center in each neighborhood, where there would be a greenhouse growing seedlings to give away, manure, compost, worms, seeds, supplies, and tools to borrow. Also, there would also be a demonstration garden that would show people the possibilities of what grows in their neighborhood and to inspire people to grow some food. There are a lot of things people are getting rid of including redwood lumber, pots, straw bales, that could be collected and given away to people wanting to start or maintain existing gardens. Finding the land and then acquiring it for this dream is the challenge.

It is an inspiring time for me as a long time gardener and person interested in fighting hunger and food insecurity in our world. Projects are popping up all over and people are dreaming big. Already in this city more people are gardening and also talking about redesigning our cities. Making them less car oriented and more people bike friendly. So can you imagine Market Street being closed to car traffic and not only having places for people to stroll, bike, hang out and sip tea, but also to garden and grow food to feed poor people?

Just today I read a short fabulous article "Plowing Detroit into Farmland" in the NY Times:

"Already, Urban Farming, an international outfit that has made Detroit its headquarters, is said to boast some 500 small plots under cultivation to supply free food to the city's poor." I looked up the organization Urban Farming, Inc. ( ) and discovered they have similar goals as the Free Farm Stand: "Urban Farming's mission is to create an abundance of food for people in need by planting gardens on unused land and space while increasing diversity, educating youth, adults and seniors and providing an environmentally sustainable system to uplift communities." I say right on!

I don't know if I want to grow as large as that organization and have such a grand advertising presence as they do, but maybe that is what is needed to get land to grow more food in cities, especially in San Francisco where there is no excess cheap land like in Detroit.

Here is a funny link along the same lines that a friend told me about that is about a proposal for Farmedelphia:

I like these images from this site:

I think it is worthy to day dream about these things, especially in context of the Free Farm Stand. Yesterday we again had a long line , but this time not so much produce, maybe because it is a seasonal thing and we are moving into winter. While dreaming this up I should include the creation of a neighborhood canning center so we can preserve some of the abundance of summer.

I was pretty excited that we did have 14 pounds of greens that we grew at 18th and Rhode Island. We also harvested the I missed last week's work day there and in just that short time the greens had really grown a lot. They are the vegetable for most of San Francisco and all gardens here should grow some. Spike brought by some mustard greens from her garden and Steve came at the end with some beautiful collards that he had grown with seedlings from the stand. It was a green day.Here are some photos from that garden taken on Friday before the Sunday stand. At the end of the slide show is a picture of the harvest on our table:

We also had very little bread and it was nice that Danny of Sour Flour brought two of his beautiful and delicious loaves of home baked bread. He is teaching bread making classes for free and from my talking to him he knows a lot. I am always picking up tips from him, like how he gets the pattern on his round loaves, by putting the dough in a floured round basket to rise.

On the sidebar under Volunteer Opportunities and Upcoming events there are lots of places that need gardening help. It is a way you can be more than a consumer and help grow some of the food we are sharing.

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