Here we are with the Fall Equinox approaching and I feel like I need to catch my breath as this year rushes by. Gandhi had his experiments with Truth and I have been having my experiment with planting and growing a Free Farm Stand. Every week in the park it seems like there is an incredible amount of energy present like a love bomb exploding. First there are now large numbers of people showing up, standing in a line winding out the gate of the park and going down the sidewalk. Then people hang around after shopping, tasting some jam and bread, wandering in the garden, laying on the grass, or kids running around doing what they do. Everyone seems so friendly and cheerful; maybe it is just the sunny weather. Then we have all the hustle and bustle of the great crew of volunteers who show up who work at sorting through boxes of produce and arranging the tables so they look beautiful. And they do and the food itself gives off a vibe that pulsates with life force. I think people really feel it, I know I do.
I love harvesting food that I have helped to plant and grow, I was thinking that last Friday as I picked some of the produce for the stand at 18th St. and Rhode Island. I also really like meeting so many really sweet people that I am meeting each week, there seems to be an equal abundance of beautiful produce and people.
In the Bay Area seasons are most evident at a farm stand by seeing what is locally grown. Tomatoes and squash rule the day in the approaching fall season and we had our share this week. Dave who lives next door to the Secret Garden brought 10lbs of apples from his backyard tree and I had a 10lb bag of locally picked pears that I don’t know where they came from (they were dropped off anonymously at the soup kitchen where I volunteer). We also had another huge amount of figs, about 30 boxes, left over from the farmer’s market. Later in the day as we were running low on super local food Clara came by with 9lbs of produce from the Secret Garden.
A couple of other beautiful things happened all on their own at the stand yesterday. Lyn gave me about ten bags she had crocheted to give out to people at the stand to put their food in. Here is the note she wrote that we put in each bag (Pancho translated it into Spanish):
This bag has been handmade as a gift for someone who is a part of the Free Farm Stand community; in other words, you.
I give away a part of me with each bag I give out. I make these bags to help spread the feeling of being nurtured and at the same time to inspire people (you) to bring this when you come for the special produce you get here. I would also be thrilled if you could use this bag as inspiration to find your own way of making your own connections with our community.
In making these bags I have only used materials from thrift stores, friends’ leftovers, and other places that don’t involve new materials. No two bags are alike.
Enjoy your day, the Farm Stand, the bags, and the new paradigm that we’re creating.
I assigned Pancho the difficult task of distributing the bags since there were only 10. At the end as Pancho was giving the last bag to someone and another woman asked if she could have it , and Lyn offered to make her a bag to give that she would give her next week!
Another outstanding gesture of sharing happened when my friend Steve pulled up with his home made bicycle refreshment stand. He set up an umbrella and served aqua fresca with melon juice and ice. An act that was hard to beat considering it was pretty warm out there in the park and the line for that was almost as long as the line for the produce. He ran out pretty fast and he said he needed another large glass jar to store more aqua fresca in.
Things are moving ahead with two new backyard gardens coming to life. I think we have found Garden Anchors for the gardens and garden workdays/parties are being planned (see sidebar under volunteer opportunities and events). Yesterday a man who has lived in the neighborhood forever and actually helped us make this park a reality years ago told me he needs help with his garden too. He has an orange and avocado tree in his yard that he wants help picking too later in winter and he’ll share his surplus. And a friend just wrote me that he is moving into a place in the Haight where there are four backyards and no fences and the neighbors are into making a big garden and he is looking forward to doing just that.
Last week was an emotional week for me. The previous Sunday (the morning it rained shortly) a friend of mine name Barbara died totally unexpectedly in her sleep. She was one of the core leaders at Martin de Porres (the Catholic Worker soup kitchen I have been helping at for years). Her loss is going to be tremendous. Two things I was reminded of was how sweet and wonderful having a loving, caring community is that an individual can count on for support. It is probably the most important thing we can have in life and it seems worth it to put the time it takes and patience developing that kind of community. And again I am reminded that our time in this world can be very short so we need to make sure we don’t get caught up in distractions like dramas that can ruffle our feathers and make us sad or angry. I need to remind myself of this all the time, to take a deep breath.
At our Friday work day at 18th and Rhode Island Lyn brought some apples from Golden Gate Park and honey from our bee hive for us all to eat to celebrate the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and so that our New Year will be sweet. Already things are moving in that direction.