A woman at the Free Farm Stand yesterday asked me asked me how long the Farm Stand would be open, in other words would I be there in there in the late fall and the winter? She imagined that there wouldn’t be much produce and that I would close. I told her that this was partly an experiment for me to see how much food I could grow year round in San Francisco, so that I plan to keep coming as long as I can keep bringing something to the table that was locally grown and organic. Don’t the CSA’s keep providing food boxes all through the year? As long as I have some sunny space I know I can grow food.

It really is feeling like fall right now or is it a warm Indian summer? Angie and I love this clear Autumn light and there is a crispness in the air too. Now is a good time to be growing cool weather crops, especially leafy greens and lettuce, peas (I love planting snap peas), garlic, and fava beans. We don’t usually get frost here, so we can grow a lot during the fall and winter. The problem is our gardens are usually shady in the city this time of year, unless we are lucky, so growing greens and fava beans are our best bet.

I had a huge amount of food and flowers at the farm stand this week. I spaced out and didn’t take any photos at the start and only have a few photos after an hour or so passed by .There was still a lot of food on the table then. I really could use a good photographer!

First of all, I harvested apples from two trees. In my last post, I showed the photos of the apple tree in Golden Gate Park I harvested. I also picked my neighbors apple tree and cleaned the ground of the fallen apples too. Her lemon tree is still producing lemons and that is really the story of “plant you now pick you later”. What an incredible gift! I also had all the tomatoes from the organic farmer in Sebastopol and his big banana squash. Just like Tom said (the guy who brought the tomatoes and squash to me from the country), I cut the squash easily with a “sawzall”, and I wrapped 1 lb. pieces in cling plastic wrap. I still have more to cut up and he wants to bring me more.

On Saturday Angie and I prepared a big salad for our friends wedding. It is like the gold rush all over again in San Francisco with the number of gay people getting married before the election (hopefully though it looks like Proposition 8 the Same Sex Marriage Ban will go down for defeat). At the end of the event, I was described in a good way as a bottom feeder. I collected a lot of flowers for the farm stand and even went through the compost bin collecting the bamboo plates to wash). It was a good attempt at a green wedding. I also had a box of salad mix from Green Gulch farm leftover plus some prepared salad, and some sunflower greens and clover/brassica mix sprouts. Oh I grabbed all the leftover delicious vegan chicken sandwiches and they went fast to my surprise.

The table was overflowing and the flowers made everything look fabulous. There were also apples, beets, and a lot of herbs (a lot of basil) from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. And more wonderful Acme bread. I harvested some yellow zucchini and tomatoes from the Secret Garden. Christy came by with tomatoes and Cape Gooseberries from the Corona Heights Garden and a woman came by with a big spaghetti squash from her garden. And Jose and Minda dropped off more cucumbers from their garden at Potrero del Sol.

I have been giving away cilantro and kale seedlings and this week I started distributing tree collards that I rooted. They really root easily and it is a great plant to grow. They grow year round and the leaves are especially sweeter in the winter. They can grow pretty tall and it is a great perennial source of greens. I have more plants if anyone wants to try growing them. I have had two people tell me they have harvested broccoli from the seedlings they got from the stand. One guy grows his entire garden in containers (I think mostly in 5 gallon buckets).

Mini-farm update and other news

I met last week with David at the new permaculture mini-farm/garden at 18th and Rhode Island. He is going to try to have the swales laid out by next Friday. Once those are laid out we can begin sheet mulching. We are trying to get manure, cardboard, and wood chips on the lot and ready to use when we are ready. We will see how that goes, but in any case there is a lot of ivy to pull up and woody stuff to chop up. Dave and I thought Fridays would be a good work day and I am going to line that up as a day I will be there. This week I will be at the lot at noon and so will Dave. I am really hoping that we get at least one swale ready to plant soon so we might start putting seeds and bulbs in the ground (I have garlic that I especially want to plant and we will probably plant fava beans and some kale too).

The local food growing enthusiasm is still growing strong. There is a new movie coming out on the Edible City. Here is a link to the trailer…http://www.vimeo.com/1814818. Here is a link that Kevin posted about an inspiring urban farmer in Milwaukee … http://www.truveo.com/Farmers-in-the-City/id/1368342214. One shortcoming of the Free Farm Stand is the lack of a consistent person at the stand every Sunday that speaks Spanish. I want to get the word out to everyone that comes what we are doing, that it is more than just giving out free food. I want to talk to people about forming a network of neighbors who can grow food and share it at the stand. I want to communicate about where our food comes from and help people who might like to try growing some food. A large percent of the people who come to the stand speak only Spanish so I hope we can do better eventually at having more Spanish speaking people helping out.

Gleaning update

There are more trees to pick right now and fruit trees to research. I am stretched out pretty thin these days and am looking for someone to train to help go out and get the fruit or at least find out if the trees are being harvested and if we can pick them. This Saturday morning if I don’t have any fruit I may go out and pick some.


There is a season for everything and I pray for a time of peace! I was sad and crazy all last week mostly related to hearing about the murder of my new friend Kirsten in New Orleans. She was a twenty-five year old woman who totally inspired me with her spirit and energy. She helped start and organize two cool projects I knew about, the Really Really Free Market in Dolores Park and the Access Café. She was on a trip across the states and I was following her progress through emails that she would send out.

“Many of us want to build the world we actually want to live in. We are doing it now, in many different ways all over the country… in search of these people, places and projects that are developing alternative economic formulas for do-it-yourself emancipation. We hope to discover, connect and facilitate networks of post-capitalist organizers, free culture, and thriving modes of living outside of this twisted system.”

I met her about the time I was starting the Free Farm Stand in April and she was excited about what I was doing as I was excited by her. Her idealism was so shiny and though I knew her too briefly she really touched my heart. I hope all us can continue our work to make the world a more beautiful place, despite the sadness and horror that pops up continually.

Here are some links if you want to read more about her:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/03/BA1413AB64.DTL&hw=kirsten&sn=001&sc=1000

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/09/30/18542023.php

http://kirstenbrydum.virtual-memorials.com/main.php?action=view&mem_id=14816&page_no=1

video interview of her at free market: http://ryanishungry.com/2007/07/11/the-gift-economy-really-really-free-market-sf/

Farm Stand News

The table was over full again this week, thanks to a good supply of organic produce from the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. Besides the large amount of lettuce and tomatoes I had harvested from three gardens, I got a lot of salad mix, yard long beans, Italian Sweet Peppers, and cilantro left over from the farmer’s market. I also harvested almost the last of the kale and some basil. Jenny pruned the lemon verbena bush in the community garden and dried and packaged it again with some nice informational labels.

Nosrat our neighbor that lives right around the garden came by with a lot of cherry tomatoes he grew plus some green figs he picked from the tree overhanging into his yard. I enjoy talking to Nosrat who is from Iran. He sounds like he is very knowledgeable about cooking and gives us all great ideas how to use some of the produce we get. He recommended cilantro pesto (he adds other herbs besides basil to his pesto when he makes it ) and he suggested with figs that are not too sweet to cut them in half and drip honey on them and broil them (I am sure other sweeteners would work too like agave syrup).

I also brought walnuts from our garden to the stand that I was hoping to shell if I had time (I didn’t get far). Nosrat showed me a couple of different clever ways of cracking walnuts that he learned from a walnut grower. The he shared with me a beautiful Persian proverb about a walnut tree. Here it is from the internet (http://notjustchelokabab.blogspot.com/2007_09_01_archive.html):

A young prince happened by an old man who was planting a walnut tree. The young prince admonished him: “Old man, a walnut tree won’t bear fruit for another thirty years. What are you hoping for? Do you think that you will ever live long enough to see this tree bear fruit?”

The old man answered:

“There is no need for me to see this tree bear fruit! Others planted and we ate their fruits. We plant so others eat.”

Nancy came by and her chemo treatments were over and her hair was growing back and she was really happy. She brought some empty jars and shared some herbs that she grew I think in a window sill box. What a beautiful effort!

Another great thing that happened is that a few local kids starting to help out. One young girl about 9 or 10 years old whose mom speaks mostly Spanish asked if she could help. She helped at the beginning setting up and then came back around the end and helped me put things away.

I also served some apple sauce I made from the rejected apples from last week and that attracted all the kids in the park.

A Cabbage Story

As I was leaving Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen on Sunday morning a woman arrived with her car filled with boxes of cabbages, left over from the Julian Food Pantry on Saturday. Martin’s couldn’t use them and they were calling around trying to help her unload them. She was trying to get to church and the baby seat even had cabbages in on it. I told her I could take some and give them away at our farm stand. They were good cabbages, but I thought they were neither organic nor locally grown, but wanted to help her out in some way and I thought people might want some. I only took two boxes or about 16 cabbages and I freed our baby car seat. It turns out that the cabbages were very popular and they were one of the things that were given away first.

Apple picking in Golden Gate Park

At the Permaculture Guild meeting I learned from Kevin about an apple tree in Golden Gate Park. After attending the free bluegrass festival I rode my bike there to check it out. It was such a beautiful tree and loaded with red apples. I picked as many off the ground and loaded them into my already full bike basket. Also, the apples were in pretty good shape for being on the ground and they tasted remarkably sweet. I came back on Monday and brought an apple picker and picked a rectangular milk crate full. It was such a thrill to go to a public park and pick apples. That is the way it should be. There were homeless guys sleeping all around and a couple of people picking apples off the ground while I was there.. One person said to be sure to leave some for the homeless people that eat the fruit. There are still loads on the tree. I thought it was interesting to see a man not far from the tree with a sign saying he was hungry and needed help. I would have liked to hand him some apples, but was in the wrong lane when I drove by him.

Here is a picture of the car filled with food for next week. Before I picked apples I picked up crates of organic tomatoes and squash from a farmer in Sebastopol who apparently is not a good businessman. His friend comes to the city once in a while to visit his daughter and brought the surplus food with him.

New Garden at 18th and Rhode Island

I am very excited to announce that work has begun on the empty lot on Potrero Hill On 1th St. and Rhode Island. Thanks to David I got my first real hands on learning about permaculture and learned how to lay out berms and swales as the first step towards creating a permaculture garden at the site. A number of others came and it was really wonderful. I have never been too good at learning things through a book and this is the first time I felt that I could relate to permaculture in a real way. And the idea that the food we grow will go to the free farm stand is so great. I am hoping soon we will set up a regular work day (possibly Friday mornings) to work there and get the garden up and growing things sooner than later. There is a plan and it just needs to be carried out. One thing that is needed is lots of unwaxed cardboard to sheet mulch the land.

Things are starting to take off with the Permaculture Guild. The new website is up and running:

www.permaculture-sf.org. Plus the Gleaning Database is almost working. Plus Azjah has started coordinating gleaning projects with me and people who might want to help.

Secret garden

On Tuesday afternoons I have started working with Nicole and her 15 kids from Jamestown Center at Treat Commons and the Secret Garden. We have gotten a lot of work done and everyone seems to have fun. We have peas and cilantro and kale planted so far and next week we will probably pull up the tomato plants.