Often times I catch myself feeling jealous of other people. Yesterday I watched someone getting baptized and she spoke about feeling free, safe, and like a child.  I was thinking, Jeez I wouldn’t mind feeling born anew. Though going to the Free Farm Stand or being in some gardens makes me feel drenched in grace.  That’s feeling the love, beauty, mystery, and kindness pulsating everywhere, like a cosmic wave.

The two week experiment of my stepping back at the Stand is going well. Lolita has taken over leading our circle and already things are much better. She has gotten everyone engaged by getting all our volunteers to answer some question she has been coming up with. I have gotten to know our helpers more than I have in the past years we have been working with each other. One of our volunteers Zoila even broke out with a song yesterday.

Though there hasn’t been a lot to harvest at Alemany Farm (this I picked beautiful lettuce and  fava bean leaves) and there is less produce from the farmers at the market, the sun was out in full force warming everyone up and the community vibe was going strong.  And the lemons are coming in from neighbors.

16180604398_d5e18b3371_cP1010001Meyer lemons

P1010002Eureka lemons? these came from another neighbor and they look

rounder than the Meyers in this  photo

One person told me I could come and pick her tree (any gleaners out there?). I also am so appreciative of my friend Margaret who has been growing a small garden at St. Aidan’s and she often brings me a small bag of some things she harvested…this week lovey arugula! It’s these  contributions from neighbors and friends that make our work feel so special…like the love that went into that is so powerful and is such a great gift.

We also had a great work day in the Treat Commons Community Garden right next to the Stand.  It is wonderful to garden while others are giving out the produce nearby. I hope to I plan to teach some gardening classes this coming spring and summer and once we get some more work done at the All in Common Garden down the street from the Stand.

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White Sapotes from my backyard

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Pax at our Vegan Info Booth…hopefully more people will get it

that we are promoting not killing animals  for food or sport

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Fava beans an alternative to meat

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 Some of our free seedlings looked kind of sad. The sad spinach

 came from the leftovers after the planting of the new edible garden at our baseball stadium

farm to (center) field

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some of our fabulous volunteers

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our guest parrot

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we like it hot


I have been wanting to write about the Free Farm Stand and our new garden project the All in Common Garden for a long time, but I just didn’t know what to write about. I have been feeling pretty gloomy about the state of the world in general these days. I have tried from the beginning of my blogging career to remain upbeat and positive and to focus my writing about issues related to our work at the Stand and in the All in Common Garden. The sadness in the daily news is overwhelming to me these days and I struggle not to get caught up in that stuff.  I am so glad the Free Farm Stand has reopened after being closed for three weeks. It takes my mind away from the daily news and  gives me fresh air to breathe.

The truth is that yes there is suffering and injustice everywhere, yet there is incredible beauty and mystery, especially if we get closer to nature,  if we dig in the soil and gaze at the galaxies and stars. If we devote some of our time to serving and helping others then we can connect with people on the heart level. That  will fill us with hope and a belief that we can do something to repair what is broken.  We can be peacemakers and that is what is so needed these days.

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my holiday card this year

Here is an example of how the work I do picks me up and makes me feel inspired and hopeful. Yesterday at the Stand I met some people visiting from Texas.  They were visiting friends in the neighborhood and stumbled upon our scene in the park. I met Tony Diaz and his Librotraficante  people that were with him.  Tony told me the incredible story about how Arizona enacted a law banning the teaching of ethnic studies in schools.  I had no idea this went down.  It prohibits courses that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,. are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, and advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” Tony help start the Librotraficante  Caravan  in 2012, collecting and “smuggling” banned books back into Arizona. So they were in town to support a 17 year old student who is suing the state of Arizona to overturn the Arizona law in the  Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals here in San Francisco  today (Monday). You can read more here. It was great meeting Tony and his friends and we all were excited that they were on the front lines fighting for justice in this almost surreal case. Peacemakers can be troublemakers.

It was also wonderful that we started off the new year at the Free Farm Stand with not only a fantastic volunteer crew, but also with our fantastic neighbors, some who brought surplus from their gardens to share.  We actually didn’t have much produce, probably because it is the winter season, but it is great that for San Franciscans, this is the start of the lemon  and orange season.

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Byron and Erin bring us some lemons

We have also been busy at the All in Common Garden working hard to finish building the greenhouse just in time for the beginning of the planting of spring crops which starts in February. We have the plastic almost all on and we need help hanging a door and trimming it out. This project has really been a community barn raising type event. There have been so many different people that have come by to help out and have helped us in our goal of creating a free garden neighborhood resource center a reality

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Gary helped the other day install the window above the door. It was a gray but happy day.

Here are some photos from a number of weeks ago that Dianne took at the Stonestown Farmer’s market where we get our second shift of produce from.  This is why we are so grateful and thankful to our farmer friends:

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Persimmon tree at All in Common Garden

Persimmon tree at All in Common Garden

Hi, this is Pax, and this week’s post is sponsored by the letter P. I’m very excited to announce that we are harvesting persimmons at the All in Common Garden! These beautiful orange globes, popping with color amongst the green leaves of their tree, have been tantalizing volunteers and visitors since they finally began ripening a few weeks ago. Guests have repeatedly asked when we are going to pick them, and even if we’re going to sell them. We’ve been explaining that once harvested, they will be given away with the other locally-grown produce at the Free Farm Stand.

Tree and friend with persimmon

Tree and friend with persimmon in All in Common Garden

You can see how big these beautiful fruits are, it takes two people to show one off! Tree’s friend is here to help us build our new greenhouse at All in Common. More help is still needed!

Fruits from All in Common Garden

Basket of fruits from All in Common Garden: Persimmon, pineapple guavas, avocado

My persimmon is keeping company with other fruits from the garden I’ve mentioned in previous posts: Pineapple guavas (feijoas) and avocados. When it’s fully ripe, I plan to make pudding out of it. I am working on perfecting a vegan-friendly persimmon pudding, using silken tofu as the base. I still haven’t figured out just the right spices though. Any suggestions?

Basket of purslane at Free Farm Stand

Basket of purslane at Free Farm Stand

While everyone is excited to see persimmons, far fewer know or appreciate another food I’ve been harvesting: Purslane, also known as verdolaga. This beneficial, edible weed pops up everywhere. It was the first weed I learned to recognize when I began volunteering at Alemany Farm. I was trained to wait until the patches of purslane grow fairly large before picking them, as long as they’re not growing directly next to another plant and thus competing with it for nutrients. I still always harvest large amounts.

Purslane starts and information

Purslane starts and information at Free Farm Stand

I printed out some information on purslane that Tree forwarded to me, so that volunteers and guests at the garden know how and why to eat this plant. The leaves, stems, and buds are all edible, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and also high in Vitamin C. Their juice be used as a remedy for minor bites, stings, and swellings.

Pop over to the Free Farm Stand or the All in Common Garden, and see what other edible treasures we have to share!


Lettuce at Free Farm Stand

Lettuce at Free Farm Stand

Hi all, this is Pax. One of the most gratifying things about volunteering at the All in Common Garden is participating directly in the process of growing the food that we share at the Free Farm Stand. Whenever I visit there I feel like I’m in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by trees bearing so many good things to eat: Avocados, pears, apples, persimmons, chestnuts, passionfruit, guavas… Then we have have pots filled with herbs, peppers, and other edibles, and now we are harvesting the first of the vegetables from the new planter beds we built this summer.

All in Common Garden - preparing beds

All in Common Garden – preparing beds

All in Common Garden - preparing beds

All in Common Garden – preparing beds

We constructed the planter beds from wood retrieved from the recently-closed Growing Home community garden, and lined them with layers of cardboard at the bottom, edge-to-edge, to help keep out weeds. We then added layers of compost, mulch and soil and got the beds thoroughly wet before planting.

All in Common Garden - planting beds

All in Common Garden – planting beds

All in Common Garden - planting beds

All in Common Garden – planting beds

The first seedlings were planted in August, and included lettuce, chard, and other greens. The soil in our planter beds was also retrieved from the Growing Home garden, and contained seeds, so we were pleasantly surprised to find turnips growing in our garden! Here’s Tree harvesting the first turnip this Saturday:

Tree with turnip at All in Common Garden

Tree with turnip at All in Common Garden

And here’s that turnip, along with more like it from Alemany Farm, on the Hecka Local table at the Free Farm Stand this Sunday:

Turnips at Free Farm Stand

Turnips at Free Farm Stand

Along with the turnips, we also harvested the first lettuce heads from the garden.

Lettuce at All in Common Garden

Lettuce at All in Common Garden

Tree with lettuce at All in Common Garden

Tree with lettuce at All in Common Garden

And as always, we brought avocados. Picking fallen avocados off the ground is the first thing I do whenever I arrive at the garden. I always find at least a dozen good ones. It’s like a treasure hunt!

Avocados at Free Farm Stand

Avocados at Free Farm Stand

If you’d like to visit the All in Common Garden – located on 23rd Street between Shotwell and Folsom – come by Monday through Wednesday from 1 to 3 or Saturday from 9 to 2. Volunteer hours are Tuesdays and Saturdays, with a free vegan lunch for volunteers on Saturdays at noon.

As Tree posted previously, we really need more volunteers, and have tasks for people of all ability levels. Next week (first week of November) we’re planning to move the greenhouse, and can use all the hands we can get. (This move might take place on a Wednesday or Thursday instead of the usual open hours; contact Tree for details.)

Notice: The All in Common Garden will be closed for one day only this Saturday, November 1.