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Now is the season to enjoy winter squash, planted in the spring, grown in the summer, harvested in the fall. The table at the Free Farm Stand was heaped high with winter squashes (and some of the last summer zucchini), some grown at 18th and Rhode Island garden and some grown by my friend Tom in Santa Rosa. We should sing an ode to winter squash because they are so wonderful!

We should strive to be like winter squash
they are a humble vegetable
like the lowly pumpkin squash magically transformed into
a high class carriage to take Cinderella to the ball
they are rock steady and patient
as they grow sometimes to large proportions
they are one of the three sisters
whose righteousness comforts and nourishes us
they feed us their fleshy insides and also their blossoms and seeds
they can be who they want to be and choose to be different
in sizes and shapes and colors
though their sexual expression is dependent on our friends the bees
the luffa squash scratch our itchy backs like good friends do
the gourd can play sweet music and is a multi-talented artist
Winter Squashes, Pumpkin, Hubbard, Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, Golden Nugget, Buttercup, Kobacha, and Turban
we love you all and think you de vine

Besides the squash we had more apples from the gleaning trip two weeks ago and others brought fruit too. Christina got some grapefruit from San Jose, Pam came by with apples, and so did Lauren who also had local figs, and lemons came from some local anonymous harvester. It just goes to show that one can keep their eyes open and find fruit growing everywhere that potentially could be harvested. Someone told me they saw pomegranates growing on Dolores St. near 20th St. that I would like to check out. Towards the end Clara came by with a lovely basket of vegetables from the Secret Garden, including some delicious figs that were finally ripe. When we were almost out of apples, someone came by with organic apples from Whole Foods, all with their organic label on each apple. They disappeared pretty quickly. Also, Danny showed up with a baguette and a loaf of sour dough he baked (he is the guy from Sour Flour who is into baking bread and giving it away). I talked to him about making a whole grain loaf and he is working on it. We also had stacks of super ripe organic dry farmed tomatoes left over from the farmer’s market. A lot were given away but many were to damaged and too hard for people to take home. I haven’t come up with a way for people to process soft tomatoes like that…they would make delicious sauce, but then it would be needed to can the sauce once it was made. That would take jars and equipment and then how do you distribute it and get your expensive jars back?

There was a lot happening in the park including a Healthy Family Days event that we were actually a part of. The organizer of that event served free healthy food in the clubhouse that we invited everyone to go to. They were serving among other things a vegan squash soup made by the Sexy Soup Lady and everyone said it was very tasty. I also hosted two bicycle tours to the stand. The Homo Homestead tour was fantastic and I enjoyed meeting them all. Joolie who organized it brought us a big bag of greens and herbs that she had grown in her nearby garden. The Garden City tour that is part of a workshop on how to get land in the city to grow a garden in came by while we were closing up shop. I spoke to them about the history of the park and garden and the current work we are doing feeding those with compromised budgets and promoting food growing.
Below are photos from 18th and Rhode Island on Friday, mostly pictures of some of the harvest. I forgot to mention that we had our largest harvest yet of potatoes, 9 pounds that we gave away on Sunday. They were mostly small in size, but looked great.

This coming Saturday the 31st, even though it is Halloween, I am planning on having a garden work day cleaning up and planting my backyard garden that has been pretty much neglected for a while. That will be from 10am-2:30pm with lunch being served around noon. We will be weeding, pruning, bottling honey if we have time, and planting. Then on the following Saturday Nov. 7th we will be extracting honey.


I believe we can transform ourselves and our world by deepening our relationship with nature and the eternal power of creation. A seed contains hope. We can begin by planting just one seed or one garden. The seeds I have been thinking about at this moment are fava beans. I am doing some late research into trying to obtain some different varieties of this plant this year. The huge book Cornucopia II, A Source Book of Edible Plants is really wonderful and lists fava bean varieties like “The Sutton” that is a short growing kind whose pods can be eaten whole even when mature. If anyone wants to check out this book they may come over to my house to read it, I don’t think it is at the library, but it is probably at the fabulous library in the Arboretum. I haven’t quite gotten into the winter time seed catalog reading, garden day dreaming mode yet, that will come in a couple of months. Someone reminded me that I should not only spend time doing but being.

I have a lot of garlic that needs a winter home to grow in…it prefers some daily sun to grow well in (I ordered way too much). On our Friday workday at the Permaculture Garden we planted a lot of this garlic, several different kinds. The rain will help them come up. I have already started planting sugar snap peas, lettuce, and broccoli. I put a big pumpkin on the super local table, this one was the biggest one we grew on Potrero Hill, what I now consider the banana belt of San Francisco. We gave out more apples that came from Apple Hill near Placerville and this week they were beautiful red ones as well as the yellow green Golden Delicious type. Lauren brought boxes of soft but handsome brown pears from gleaning two weeks ago. I harvested nine pounds of sunchokes from the Esperanza garden and the last of the tomatoes from the other gardens. My friend and neighbor came by with over a pound of gorgeous Rocoto peppers…I originally gave him the seeds for these and I don’t know how many plants he has, but the peppers really looked good and I am sure they were very popular. The Farmer’s Markets are selling more greens and that means we are starting to get more of their left-over’s. Some farmers are packing it up for the winter. Green Gulch Farm had their last day this Saturday and we won’t be getting more starts or greens from them for a while (hopefully I will make a new connection with them in the spring). This is what fall season is about here and I am enjoying it as the weather starts to cool down and feel crispy.

I am also feeling a bit reflective and joyful. I must admit I amazed at the way this project has grown this year and how it has generated a lot of excitement. I heard from one of regular volunteers who goes to USF on Masonic that they have opened their own Free Farm Stand for the students and also for the neighbors, a part of their garden project: http://usfgardenproject.com/.

Our stand has also drawn such a large crowd and line, but so far we have continued to have enough produce for everyone. I am actually not going out of my way to collect more produce though my heart is often tugged in that direction. I really like encouraging local food growing. There still are places for people to garden if they want. I know of two backyards that need attention (besides my own). Also, I am still looking for a space to put a green house so we can grow seedlings and trees to give away to neighbors and schools, churches, and shelters.

Someone left this article from the Examiner in my mail box that got me totally excited: http://tinyurl.com/ykopmok . The mayor is ordering city departments to pay a 13% surcharge on city employee’s travel that will go to planting fruit trees throughout the city to increase local food production. The Dept. of the Environment will oversee the fund. It all sounds nice when you read about it, but my sense is that from the start this effort is plagued by bureaucracy. The estimate is that the average cost per tree will be $200. Why so high when bare root trees are only about $30 at the most? Most of all why can’t I get anyone in the city to help me plant the fruit trees I have already collected and have money for in the park where we host the farm stand? They want me to put up a costly fence which in my opinion is not necessary. Again I feel like if we want real change we have to make it ourselves, we can’t count on government to do the right thing. If we want to engage in the political way of bringing about change it means spending a lot of time trying to make our voices heard and gathering a lot of attention.

Here is an example of where our city government is messing up and we should probably speak out about it. On Wednesday October 21 at 2pm in room 416 at City Hall the Building Inspection Committee will be voting on whether to require a permit for single source greywater. In other words discouraging people to recycle their washing machine water by having to jump through a bunch of hoops and pay fees. One can attend this meeting or at least send an email voicing your concerns to Ann Aherne: [email protected] (she’ll make sure every commissioner gets a copy). You can write the same to Steve Panelli, Chief Plumbing Inspector, at: [email protected].

I ran into a friend of mine named Susan at the recent bee club meeting. She told me she just opened a small specialty nursery featuring edibles, herbs, grasses, and native plants. It is chemical free and is supposed to be an alternative to most standard nurseries. Although I am not a big fan of businesses, I would like to support her effort because the city needs a good nursery that features edibles and she seems open to carrying things that may be unusual if she can get them. I haven’t been by there yet, but we should all check it out, especially people in this neighborhood:

Independent Nature

1504 Church St at 27th

415 6421708

open 11 to 6 daily except Tuesdays

News flash! I just learned in an email from my friend Leif that he and Nicole Lobue are guest chefs this Thursday at Mission Street Food and the profits will go to the Free Farm Stand. I didn’t know this was happening…it will probably be great food if you don’t care about the meat being served or that there isn’t anything vegan on the menu.