As I was loading the van last week with produce for the Free Farm Stand I felt like I was walking through the Valley of Valentines. Each bag and box of locally grown produce made me feel so special and blessed. Each bunch of tree collards, or bag of fava beans, bouquet of lettuces, handfuls of rocoto peppers or lemons that were harvested in nearby San Francisco gardens or farms was truly a love gift. Each came special delivery with a kiss on each leaf or fruit.
This is the quiet revolution going on right now and it is so beautiful and precious, neighbors and friends growing food and sharing it with those in need at our weekly Free Farm Stand.It may be only on a tiny scale, but all this love energy adds up, it is the serotonin in our soil that makes us all feel happy and hopeful, and we are growing it!
This weekly this activity is going on against a back-drop of development steamrolling out of control in our magical San Francisco. People are losing their homes where they live and getting the boot and gardens/farms are getting evicted too. In the past two weeks there have been goodbye parties at Hayes Valley Farm and Esperanza Gardens (Kezar Garden and HANC Recycling Center had not only a party a month ago but a short Occupation). The Free Farm is next in line (go to our other blog http://thefreefarm.org/ to read what is the latest there.
I really applaud those who Occupy locally and stand up and say that this development must stop for now. The Farm Occupiers in Albany across the bay who this weekend said no to development at Gill Tract Farm land are our true heroes and Engish Digger types who planted the Commons only for the agents of the landlords to bull doze what they planted (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSj1Gn2J-X4).
It is not a time to despair, but to get back to getting our hands dirty and our green thumbs flexing. We must be in for the long haul and keep the farms and gardens growing food whenever we can. It is pretty simple really…take some time to grow food and flowers and harvest fruit from trees. Share it with those in need. Make it beautiful and fun.
While I was at the Esperanza Garden goodbye celebration party yesterday, I kept thinking if only we could get these people working instead of just standing around drinking beer or eating pizza from a cob oven (I couldn’t eat the pizza because it wasn’t vegan). I mean it is cool to celebrate the great work we have done, but I had to go home alone and unpack the van from the Free Farm Stand and deal with boxes of very ripe apricots and peaches. And across the street from me is a guerilla garden we have started growing that will produce more produce for our stand if we can only get the people to help make it happen.
Esperanza Garden will need a lot of help moving (they have to be out in two weeks). If you can give them a hand contact me and I will let them know. I think they are a bit disorganized with the move (I can understand the problem of having to move a living garden). Also, one of the main people there is a busy mom and she has been carrying a lot of the load keeping this garden happening. I also think Hayes Valley Farm still might have fine wood chip mulch to give away.
At the Stand yesterday we had a lot of locally grown love in the form of produce from various gardens/farms, a lot from Alemany Farm and the Free Farm…actually almost as much produce grown in San Francisco as we got left-over from the first batch of produce from the ferry building farmer’s market.
The second round of produce that we pick up from Stonestown Farmer’s Market was amazing. It is like we suddenly switched into summer mode and we had tons of apricots, cherries, peaches, cucumbers, and zucchini and we actually had a challenge giving it all away. That is why I came home with so much soft fruit that I am jamming as I write.
Some photos from the Stand:
She said she was gathering food for a large household and bike cart was the means of transporting it
some of our Free Farm bounty and also from other farms
Here is some inspiration if you need it to become a free food activist : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/us/fruit-activists-take-urban-gardens-in-a-new-direction.html?emc=eta1&_r=1&. This is the idea is to create Edible Parks and plant fruit trees in them.
There is a the urban agriculture strategic plan that just recently got passed (http://www.sfuaa.org/uploads/4/8/9/3/4893022/urban_ag_strategic_plan_final.pdf) and it is quite a read! Despite the input of “30 stakeholders” like us at the Free Farm, many of us have not been not too fond of Recreation and Park (possibly the majority of us), yet the plan recommends that agency being the lead for the Urban Agriculture Program in the city. It is worth looking at the appendix and checking out the budget for urban agriculture so far ($4.4 million this year next year $3.6 million). Wow a lot of money going into salaries and some programs getting most of the share of the money. What we are doing at the Free Farm and the Free Farm Stand or like at places like Alemany Farms or Esperanza Gardens is showing what can be done with little money and no salaries. We need more help from the city supporting our efforts and putting money into purchasing or long term leasing land or opening up more park land to our efforts (the problem being Recreation and Park is has been awful to work with so far).
If you want to give your input about this issue you can go to the SFUAA meeting Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Place: Global Exchange, 2017 Mission Street (@ 16th), 2nd Floor Conference Room. Representatives from Recreation and Park will be there. Also, Wednesday, May 15, 5:30-6:30 @ City Hall, Room 278 there will be an open house convened by Supervisor David Chiu, Office of the City Administrator and RPD to solicit feedback on the strategic plan.
More inspiration of a garden activist in Los Angeles who is also making changes on a truly grass roots level (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/fashion/urban-gardening-an-appleseed-with-attitude.html?pagewanted=all). A number of weeks ago we posted a video of a TED talk that Ron gave that apparently went viral and now all sorts of people want to support him.