Heart Lessons

Today as I was walking Bernal Hill for my daily dose of exercise and meditation two bumper stickers on parked cars seem to grab my attention. “What are you grateful for today?” and “Girls kick ass”. I love thinking about things I am grateful for and there is no short supply. I also have been thinking about all the great feminine energy that I have been around recently. One example, the Free Farm Stand has a cash crop of fabulous helpers these days and a lot of them are strong beautiful women. Not to say there are no strong beautiful men who have been helping, there are, but the women are out there in full force these days and they are mostly running the show.

On Saturday I attended the sweet memorial celebrating the life of Barbara Collier, one of the main love engines who ran the Martin de Porres soup kitchen and community. I could summarize some of that event as being about both gratefulness and kick ass women. Everyone was so grateful for Barbara for the way she touched their lives and grateful for Martin’s. She also had a special deep connection with women who were woven throughout her life. Besides the 30 plus year old women’s group she was a part of (it started out as a play group for their children and is still going strong), she had many close soul sisters that she loved and who loved her. She stayed in touch with them (one with regular phone calls to Germany), and she also worked with them at Martin’s. I also came away from the Martin’s remembering the lesson she taught by example, of doing things through our heart rather than our minds.

A funny thing happened this week in relationship to the Free Farm Stand. Because of the memorial happening at Martin’s, all food donations deliveries were canceled. Thanks to Green Gulch farm I was able to get a number of boxes of extra greens they gave to me. And I got some industrial organic food donated by Veritable Vegetable brought to me by Food Not Bombs. I was also feeling that we were doing pretty good with vegetables that we harvested from our gardens. I reminded myself that I am not running a food program exactly and that I want to emphasize growing our own if we can. I purposely did not try to collect more produce to make up for the shortfall we would have, considering the number of people who are showing up these days. As it turned out at 3pm on Saturday, an hour before I was to leave for the memorial, Food Runners contacted me and had a truckload of produce left over from the Ferry Building Farmer’s market and they were even willing to drop it off at my home.

So needless to say we had a ton of produce both on the super local table and the left over organic table. I had a huge harvest from the Esperanza Garden and the trombone squash were truly spectacular. They grew the best of all the locations we are gardening at, because the heat from the concrete wall reflects into the space. I also am excited by the eggplant growing there; it is such a beautiful plant besides being a tasty vegetable to eat.

The squash from the Permaculture garden is impressive in terms of how productive they are. I also actually brought some produce from my shady backyard, 3lbs of tomatoes. And talk about local, we had 3lbs of chestnuts a bunch of us harvested from the sidewalk kitty corner from the park where we set up the stand. A neighbor brought grapefruit from her backyard Tree on Treat that she said were sour, but I took one home and it made a delicious juice. Two others brought tomatoes they had grown. Lauren brought delicious and beautiful apples she had picked from nearby. L dropped off some of her delicious sprouts that she grew. I am hoping soon that we can offer sprout kits to people so they can grow their own sprouts. Autumn brought by olives and olive spreads from the farmer’s market, samples that they gave out and were left over at the end of the day. I love these gestures of sharing and it is really what makes the stand fun and about community. Also, she played violin with a beautiful brother named Jorge that played his homemade instrument out of recycled materials, like a bow with a gourd amplifier on it and a stick that he hit it with. Did I mention the return of the figs? I guess being a fig grower it is either use it or lose it. I had another 28 boxes of figs and because of the heat they some were starting to rot before we could even give them away. I am amazed thought that we had enough food for everyone that came, considering the line never really disappeared until way late in the day.

The plant/garden table was not happening much this week. I am really behind in growing seedlings and have been getting by on donations of starts from Green Gulch. We not only still need a consistent person at the plant table, but someone to help start growing seedlings for our gardens and to give them away at the table on Sundays. I think we could be offering people seedling starter kits and encourage help starting seedlings in homes in the area. Anyone got space in a small greenhouse or sunny window or porch?

I am excited because we will soon have two new gardens in backyards growing some local produce, some of which will be shared at the Free Farm Stand. It seems almost every week I meet people who are excited about what we are doing and they want to know how they can help. And a lot of people say they want to learn how to garden or just get their hands in some dirt. The sidebar on this page will list the garden work parties coming up and how people can help out and what we need. I just learned that a pile of manure on Bernal Hill is available to people who want some for their garden. I wonder if there is someone who wants to collect some for different gardens I know of that can use some?

Also, read about the fruit picking opportunity coming up next Saturday on the side bar. If anyone has a vehicle or even not, but may want to get out of the city for a trip to Clear Lake (2 ½ hours away), some guy is offering people to come up and pick his 1200 pear trees and give the fruit to the food bank or other groups like the Free Farm Stand.

I heard recently that My Farm went out of business, that they went broke (I do not know how to confirm this information though I got it from a good source). Someone described to me that their operation was run like a ponzi scheme, in that they were operating on the money that they got from installing gardens in people backyards, but they didn’t make enough to maintain the gardens or pay people. Although I have not been a big fan of My Farm, I do think that the more gardens growing food in the city the better. I hope all the gardens are kept going (I heard they had something like 70).

I also agree with my friend who told me about My Farm who says growing food to make a profit is not a good business. From my experience this last year or so, it is a lot of work to be a farmer. I know people trying to do that and live off their work, and I think good luck. Though getting $25 a pound for local grown lettuce sounds like a great way to make money, sort of like growing marijuana without the legal hassle. Time will tell with these operations how successful they can be and not getting burnt out. I know that most of us have to pay rent and that is a good question how to do that and have time too for repairing the world. The answer lies in being creative and committed to that goal, and it gets back to starting things with compassion in the heart.

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