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.

 

 


One could say the world is a garden full of challenges growing everywhere. I grew up a good Jewish boy wanting to make the world better. There always seemed a lot to do.  I lucked out and at an early age and I found a group of people who became my real family (since I never had a family after the age of 17 years old). I lived in an “intentional community” or commune for 24 years with my new family.

The best thing that happened is they helped me do what I was passionate about, to live a life of service.  Karma yoga (selfless service), tikkun olam (world repair), love in action. That is what it’s all about and I love what I do.
Now I am not living communally though I still believe that it is the ideal life style for people who want to do service together. Share income and live together like a family: Catholic Worker style and creating Houses of Hospitality or homes of Love and Prayer.

These days I am running projects run entirely by volunteers and we don’t live in a commune together. For me it is somewhat difficult, since I am used to working together with people in a communal context.

The Free Farm Stand, after 6 years, has become the next best thing to a communally run project. We do pretty well for an all-volunteer group and we have some core people who have helped us run the Stand smoothly. It feels like a family event when I go there, a lot of neighbors connect with each other and it feels great. I also love it when people bring something from their garden to share. This week it was oranges and collards, and Padrón peppers.

Neighbors sharing produce

Neighbors sharing collards and peppers

Oranges from a neighbor's tree

Oranges from a neighbor’s tree

 

The All in Common Garden is in its infancy period. Since May we have been trying to create a core of volunteers to help to improve the space and turn it into an urban ag resource center. So far we are pretty shorthanded and can really use help, although we have done a lot so far. We are getting closer to setting up a greenhouse and that has been our next priority, getting a place to grow seedlings and having a place to work when the rains come. Right now we need carpentry, electrical, and plumbing help, help moving big things that take more than one person to move, and there is always gardening help (any skill level ok). I am especially interested in building a team of regular volunteers that want to help keep the All in Common Garden open to the public with regular hours.

All in Common Garden sign

All in Common Garden

This work we do is about making the world better. I don’t  want to live in a world where what’s yours is mine (for a price or fee), which sums up what is the fad right now, something that is deceivingly called the “sharing economy” or collaborative consumption.  Although AirBnB is getting some bad attention these days as the government tries to regulate it, it seems these kinds of operations remain pretty popular. I like the idea of a shift away from everyone having to own everything, but having to basically rent things from everyone is not what makes the world a place for happy campers in my opinion. I read on some “sharing” website  that their goal was to see people live less wasteful and more connected lives.  We too!

Here are some photos of what sharing gardens and produce looks like:

Hecka Local produce

Hecka Local produce

 

Salad from St. Aidan's Episcopal Church

Salad from St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church

 

Garden photos from volunteers and neighbors

Home garden photos from volunteers and neighbors

Also thanks to La Baguette from the Stonestown Farmers Market for donating bread.

Thank you La Baguette

Thank you La Baguette


Hi, I’m Pax. I’ll be helping Tree out with the Free Farm Stand blog going forward. I’m a regular volunteer there, helping with setup and breakdown and staffing our Vegan Information Station. I also volunteer at Alemany Farm and the All in Common Garden, helping grow and harvest food to distribute at the Farm Stand.

Harvesting pineapple guavas at Alemany Farm

Loren and Pax harvesting pineapple guavas at Alemany Farm. Photo by Tree

At Alemany Farm this month we’re harvesting a lot of pineapple guavas, also known as feijoas. These juicy green fruits are delicious raw. Many people peel them – amusing instructions here – but the peels are also edible, and their sour taste makes a nice contrast to the sweet pulp within.

I’ll be writing much more in the coming weeks. If you’re local, stop by the farm stand any Sunday and say hello!


I may have been born with extra worry genes. I always remember being a worrier (not a warrior). Though Peace Pilgrim said that worrying is just another habit like anger. She talked about relinquishment of the worry habit and living in the present. I think the universe has always been nudging me to give up my worrying habit. I remember as a kid I was big fan of Mad magazine and “What me Worry?” has been one of my mantras. I also relate to Meher Baba who said “Don’t worry, be happy”.

The other day I had an experience that made me realize that I still have a way to go to get off the worry habit, but that I have made progress as time goes on. I recognized in a close  friend their worry habit and that they were trying to push it on me. Thanks to grace I was able to see that I don’t need to be worried like they wanted me to be.

I am trying to break this habit in my life and in the work I do including at the Free Farm Stand and in the gardens I am growing, like at the 23rd Street Garden. I am trying to stay chill and not worry so much about everything working out the way I had planned. I try to put my worry energy into spending some time practicing sitting in silence every day and into prayer.

Both the Free Farm Stand and the 23rd Street Garden are doing great. This week was another time in our project’s history that it seemed that the Hecka Local table had more produce and greater variety than the table with the left-over produce from the farmer’s market. I am not sure why but the amount of left-over produce from the markets seems to be a little less, though there continues to be a lot of stone fruit (though last week we had a ton of tomatoes).

I continue to be super grateful for the generosity of Alemany Farm for supplying us with so much fresh produce and also with seedlings to give away. And we continue to have need for volunteers who want to harvest vegetables and fruit on Fridays at the farm. Please contact me if you are interested or might want to catch a ride from the Mission when we go.

Cat started a project that I love of having guests or volunteers who grow food or flowers posting pictures of their gardens at the stand to encourage others to do the same. Lorena who volunteers with us and her niece Cielo made the first poster to share with everyone.  This is really the best part of the Free Farm Stand.

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Here are some more photos:

Neighbors sharing some surplus:

neibors with oranges woman with apples

P1010002 P1010008

pax just info booth

Pax at the new vegan information booth

The raised bed boxes are built in the 23rd St. garden and we are looking for more cardboard to cover the bottoms of the bed to keep the weeds from coming up. Then we have to fill the beds with organic material and soil (we may have to get more soil). We plan to start growing some food soon!  Though we will plant in the beds, our main focus will be to continue to get the infrastructure completed…from rebuilding the compost bin, installing drip irrigation, putting legs on the benches we rescued, moving and installing and framing out the greenhouse (the goal to get this done before the winter season moves in).

The Free Farm Stand and our new garden project need handy volunteers with carpentry, electrical, and plumbing skills. Plus we need drivers for both projects (we have a van though someone with a pick-up truck could be helpful).

Here are two interesting articles that highlight the problems with our current economic system we live under: Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers from the New York Times and THE TIPPING POINT from the online version of edible San Francisco. The article about farmers says “The dirty secret of the food movement is that the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn’t making a living.” The article concludes that small farmers need to  organize and form organizations like in the past that support farmers. “shape a vision of a new food economy that ensures that growing good food also means making a good living.” The other article is about the minimum wage debate going on that in the upcoming election voters will decide with to raise it.  The article asks the question “Can San Francisco Restaurants Pay Workers More & Survive?” The article talks about how unaffordable the city is and it is already hard for minimum wage workers to live here. This article focuses on those workers who work in restaurants that feed people who can afford to eat out, but the fact is that any minimum wage person can’t easily live here. “To afford a market-rate one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, a worker must make $29.83 an hour, according to a March report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.”

To me this system doesn’t really work for most of us and that I am always writing about how we need to come up with an alternative way of surviving. Places like Mission Pie (who are mentioned in the article) or Little City Gardens or any of the businesses trying to create green jobs (go to a San Francisco Urban Ag meeting and listen to the someone there who wants to create a profitable farm on a roof) are promoting a friendly hip world based on a system of exchange. The truth is coming out everyday in stories like these that it there are serious problems with capitalism, no matter what kind of smile is stuck to it or how much we love their vegan pies or love the gardens they create. Even worker owned businesses like Rainbow Grocery, which is a step in the right direction, have to charge high prices for food. I guess we all need to make choices on what we spend money on, but unfortunately there are those that can’t afford good food.

Like John Lennon sang, “you might call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. I also hope you join us dreamers by helping us feed people in need and working together to build a magical garden in our neighborhood that demonstrates to people how to grow food in our back yards.