San Francisco Dreamin’ …

on a winter’s day

This week we had one of the fastest free farm stands in a while. We set up and gave away what we had in an hour. It started to rain right when we started giving out the produce and there was a pretty good line. Fortunately people didn’t have to be in the rain that long because the line moved ahead quickly and it never rained that hard. We actually had a good selection of fresh produce for a winter table. We had a lot of Meyer lemons that were picked locally and oranges from a tree growing near Sebastopol. I picked some White Sapote fruit from my backyard tree that I hope people have the patience to let them ripen (it is hard to know when to pick them and they might take a long time to ripen). Our friends whose mother lives in San Jose came by with more bags of really lovely citrus (lemons, calamansi, and tangerines).”Calamansi, calamondin, Philippine lime – this versatile citrus fruit is the secret ingredient to many mouthwatering Filipino delicacies”.

There were also lots of greens from Potrero Hill and Mike and Ruth cut greens and beautiful oak leaf lettuce from Treat Commons right next to the stand just before we opened. How fresh is that? We also had boxes of Earthbound lettuce in plastic boxes and organic crookneck squash from Mexico, both that were very popular. I wonder if some people noticed the difference between the just picked lettuce and the “industrial organic” lettuce or how many people understand that we are trying to promote growing your own and eating local as much as possible.

I am still amazed that the local food growing movement remains so strong in the city. It really seems like a case of collective dreaming where some of us are dreaming the same things at the same time. For example the Hayes Valley Garden Project (for lack of a better name) is planning on building a greenhouse to propagate seedlings and trees to distribute to gardeners and wanna be gardeners (though I am not sure if they want to do this for free or not). That is our dream too. I also attended the California Rare Fruit Growers Scionwood Exchange on Saturday. It was great to see so many familiar faces and talk “shop”. It is also significant that more people than ever are interested in fruit trees and fruit tree propagation.

I should also mention something amazing happening in the Mission. The city is in the process of buying the parking lot at 17th and Shotwell and turning it into low income housing on one half of the lot and the other half will be for a park or open space (1 acre!). They are open to the idea of having a new kind of community garden rather than the traditional garden with private plots. In speaking to the planning department I suggested the idea of a farm that is is run by a local a neighborhood non-profit group that grows food to feed low income people or grows flowers for a hospice or shelter. They seem open to any idea and on Saturday January 23rd they are having a public meeting to get input from neighbors. I urge lots of people to attend and suggest that the Mission needs a farm. See sidebar for more info (DATE: Saturday, January 23, 2010
LOCATION: Marshall Elementary School: 1575 15th Street (at Capp)

The coming rains and storms may slow us down in the next coming weeks, but we are going full speed ahead in planning and turning an empty lot into a farm. This is the most exciting project to come along for me since the Free Farm Stand first opened. A chance to grow food to combat hunger and get people inspired to grow more food in the city. Last Saturday there was the first workday at the site and it sounded like it was quite a success. I was there today and a lot was cleaned up and a dirt ramp has been built going down to the main farm area (it needs more work). On Sunday I got lot of inquiries from people that want to help. Right now Saturdays will be the main workday from 10am-2pm and eventually Wednesday we will add another workday. One of the main things we need right now are large amounts of organic matter. Aged manure or compost would be ideal. Free manure is easy to track down but we need a large truck, like maybe 20 cubic feet bed size, to go to where it is, pick it up, and deliver it. Please keep in touch as time goes on we will be letting everyone know what we are trying to manifest for our urban farm. Our what we need sidebar will have a list. Here is a website that has some information on the project with some more photos.: We had a fantastic meeting today of our new core group, a collaboration of the nicest people I have had the privilege to work with so far, including Pastor Megan from Welcome Ministry who made the original outreach to get use of the land from St. Paulus Church. We still need a name for the farm and the front runners so far are the Free Farm and the New Digger Farm. All ideas are welcome. All dreams are welcome.

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