It was another Sunday Streets day and I was bicycling down Valencia to go home to set up the Free Farm Stand. It was a blast riding down Valencia and seeing the whole street cut off from car traffic, though it was a bit chaotic and it wasn’t a casual ride as I had to constantly avoid pedestrians and other bicycles coming from the other direction. When I got to the park the neighborhood seemed deserted because of the event and I decided to do some gardening until some help arrived. At some point volunteers started showing up and we got the van unloaded and food put on the different tables. Gone are the days (at least right now) of walking over with the wagon (not only because we have more produce, but because the van is used to pick up the bread that we leave in the van overnight). Suddenly out of nowhere people start flocking in like birds and before we know it there is a line of people anxious to get produce.
We filled the very local table with 37 pounds of produce this week. Right as we were setting up a neighbor showed up with a bag of small cherry plums that I think came from her tree. It made me happy that people are starting to understand what we are all about. I like to use the word food sharing as one way to describe what we are doing. We are learning to share (we hear that all the time if we hang out with kids and parents). It does seem like a food giveaway most of the time, but the message is really that we have the power to grow some of our food and to feed ourselves, just as we have the power to change our neighborhoods and get to know our neighbors. Some people think all they are doing is getting some free food and that is one way to look at it, but they might not know they are involved in a grand social experiment/scheme to make the world better by people getting to know each other, sharing food and some community time together. It is funny that now there is a Nolo press book out about sharing (The Sharing Solution) and talk about Sharing Law and the Sharing revolution. There is a blog too at http://www.sharingsolution.com/ . I must admit this really overwhelms me and I don’t know what to think about it. I come from the old school where sharing seemed a lot simpler and we didn’t need all the laws or contracts or technologies to share something with another person. We just get out in the world and do it. And some of us believe that the “Earth is a Common Treasury for All”. Yo, just share the love! But it is all cool sharing any way you have to do it (I may even need some legal contract to get some landowner to share their vacant land with me). I wish I could do more sharing in my own life.
Anyway a number of people brought by produce to give away or share (depending on how you look at it) throughout the day. Margaret brought by some beautiful red potatoes from Holy Innocents from the tater towers that Page and I planted. She also dropped off some huge zucchinis from the Stanford garden, some green beans, and grapefruit. Later in the day Sam came by with some ripe plums and then another friend showed up with grapefruit from down the street on Treat. Nanda whom I have been corresponding with by email, brought by dragon beans that she grew, some lemons, and a number of plants to give away and some seeds. We also had produce from four gardens that we are working in, Treat Commons, Esperanza, 18th and Rhode Island, and the Secret Garden. Of course the left over farmers market table was loaded with summer vegetables and I also had some “industrial organic” gleaned from Veritable Vegetable. I must admit I was offered a box of non-organic tortillas both flour and corn that I gave away that seemed very popular among our crowd.
At the very end of the Free Farm Stand while cleaning up a bicycle caravan with reggae musicians came riding down the street. I asked them if they wanted some bread that we had left over and they all came in the park and we had an impromptu reggae concert that was great. This is what I have been wanting for a while, some culture mixed with the stand. And I loved that it was sound system was powered by a bicycle.
We also had over two gallons of fresh plum jam that Eli made for the Free Farms Stand that we gave out in baby food jars and we had some on the table for people to taste. He actually thought it needed some improvement and gave me some in sealed mason jars that he added more sugar and ginger to and offered to do the same to the rest he gave me, but I thought it was delicious as is (and everyone else seemed to agree). Now I have some plum jam and apricot jam to give away around the holidays when fresh fruit is harder to come by.
I just heard that the possible new owner of the vacant lot that Esperanza Gardens is now located on has two months or more to grow food, because the he hasn’t been able to secure the loans yet to build on it. So that will give us time to plant another crop of greens and other things there. I am getting a lot of volunteers at all the gardens and that is great. We just have to keep planting as much as possible. I would like to see someone help coordinate a seedling program where we give seeds, soil, and trays to people to grow seedlings to give away. That way we would have seedlings to put in the ground when we have “vacancies” and I think then more people could grow food and share the surplus. Here are some pictures of our last workday at 18th and Rhode Island. Like I think I mentioned in a previous posting, more people have time on their hands because they are out of work, so lucky us getting all these great helpers.