Free Feast

We celebrated the Easter Sunday Free Farm Stand feast in stormy wet windy raining cold weather.  That didn’t prevent people from lining up to get some fresh local produce. The highlight of the hecka local table was the beautiful chard from 18th and Rhode Island about 32lbs. We also had a heck lot of Chocolate Mint that Bilikis harvested from the same garden on Friday. The 18th and Rhode Island Garden also gifted us a handful of spring strawberries and snap peas. Some neighbor was so excited by the stand after she finished getting some produce she went home and brought lemons that she had picked from her grandmothers tree. Being Easter I brought some calla lilies from our garden and Mexican purple sage from the permie garden and Zach brought a bouquet from his garden. I also brought trays of sunflower greens that I grew. We had a lot of artichokes from the farmers market and lots of greens.

Because of the rain I didn’t set up much of a plant/garden advice table, though I had some plants to give away. I had a flier about the free mini garden workshops starting next week that I wanted to put out and couldn’t because of the rain. This is something I always wanted to see happen at the stand is to offer gardening classes for everyone that shops for produce. Here is what the flier says (I have a Spanish translation also):
Mini-Garden Workshops at the Free Farm Stand 1:30pm-2pm April-May 2010
Date: 04/11/10 Workshop:  Vegetative Propagation
Date: 04/18/10 Workshop:  Intro to FRUIT TREES
Date: 04//25/10 Workshop:  Sexual Propagation: VEGGIES
Date: 05/02/10 Workshop:  Vegetable Focus: SOLANUMS
Date: 05/09/10 Workshop:  Vegetable Focus: BRASSICAS
Date: 05/23/10 Workshop:  Vegetable Focus: LEGUMES
The Free Farm Stand is about sharing the wealth of urban gardens and farms. “Shop” for some local vegetables and then learn how to grow your own so you too can share some surplus with those in need.
Long time mission district neighbor Antonio will be leading these ½ hour workshops for free on the dates above in Treat Commons Community Garden next to the Stand. This will be a preview to the longer 1 ½-2 hour workshop that he will hold at Esperanza Garden (Florida St at 19th at 2:30PM.  $15 donation but absolutely no one turned away for lack of funds.)
If people attending this class would like to talk about anything else related to gardening and growing food  Antonio is happy with a more informal free flowing workshop happening. A Spanish translator will be available.
Vegetative Propagation It’s not likely that you could grow a whole human body by taking off a piece of your finger, sticking it in the ground, and keeping it moist over some months time. Surprisingly, though, this about all it takes to make more plants from perennial bushes, herbs, and vines. In this class, you will learn the subtle differences in plant forms and growth, and how to maximize your asexual reproductive power! Introduction to Fruit Trees Who doesn’t love fruit trees? They bring such sweetness into our lives, and with very little effort needed to coax a bountiful crop, compared with labor-intensive annual vegetables. This class will answer basic fruit tree questions: what kind of trees are out there? Which can I grow here? How do fruit trees grow? What do I have to do to keep them alive and productive? Sexual Propagation: VEGGIES Have you planted what seemed like thousands of seeds, only to have just two weak-looking carrots emerge? If you’re getting started at planting vegetables from seed, or are just curious as to how to refine and perfect your seeding techniques, this class will help. You will leave this class confident enough to grow any major vegetable from seed, and know how to avoid the most common mistakes leading to seed death and seedling ill-health. Vegetable Focus: SOLANUMS This class will cover as much as possible on the more palatable and locally-appropriate varieties of these variously loved and hated gems of South American descent. We will discuss tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and how to coax a crop from the most heat-loving family in an area renowned for its cool summers. Vegetable Focus: BRASSICAS Gardeners of The Bay take note! Brassicas could be your best friend! Learn the needs of and tricks for growing the following veggies: kale, arugula, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and the Chinese choys. Come away confident that, no matter the time of the year, or your proximity to the ocean, you will be fed from your own garden! Vegetable Focus: LEGUMES Take some time out to get to know the Fabacaea family, including bush beans, pole beans, peas, and perennial legumes. Legumes are not only vital in helping you maintain soil fertility, they taste great and are easy to grow as well! Come get to know them better.

The Free Farm is growing quickly. One thing is that we are getting a lot of attention from the media. As a result of the Chronicle article I was approached by KTVU_TV 2  was asked to be interviewed. I suggested they interview Megan with Welcome who we are partnering with and she was on tv for 6 minutes (I didn’t see the show). Then last Friday a woman from San Francisco State came out Saturday to film the farm for a tv show they produce called State of Events. Then on Sunday she came out in the rain to shoot the Free Farm Stand. I fortunately didn’t have to be interviewed at all though she probably caught me on camera. Aside from news attention, we the free farm is getting a lot of attention of volunteers and neighbors. We had also had a visit by Girls Inc. in Oakland and about 13 8th grade girls who volunteered. We are getting so much done and we actually had our first harvest of baby lettuce from our lettuce lawn (3 weeks since we planted it) and we also picked a head of lettuce from our first planting of lettuce. We served the lettuce at our volunteer lunch. I really think the row cover is speeding up the growth of the plants. Case started planting carrots and the labyrinth is getting finished and planted. Next Saturday we hope to build a temporary greenhouse to help us grow a lot of seedlings to distribute. We are working with Jonathan and his group Feel the Earth who is planning an event next Sunday and is planning to plant fifty flats of seedlings to distribute all over the city. (see the calendar for more information).

Here is a link I got off the permaculture guild listserve that I enjoyed withan update of the White House Garden. If they can grow a garden during winter we can too:

One result of getting publicity is that I met online a couple in Oregon who have the same philosophy as me in terms of sharing and the idea of living communally and sharing all things in common. I was very inspired seeing their web site for one of their projects called the Sharing Garden Here is what they say: “We think of these as ‘Stone Soup’ Gardens, where if each of us shares a little of what we have, whether that’s time or materials, that we’ll be able to grow food for all of us to enjoy.” And here is more: “These community gardens are unique. They are each one large plot instead of many separate ones. All labor and materials are donated. The harvest is for people in our community who are in need and any surplus is donated to the Monroe Food Bank.” This would be my ideal for community gardens of the future and what I originally envisioned for Treat Commons Community Garden of which I am the current garden coordinator. I had to compromise when we created that garden and we do have some private beds. Their website also has a lot of practical garden information, like about planting potatoes or carrots. They also have a website that has a beautiful vision and again is something I am interested in, but in an urban center like San Francisco:  “We are a ‘community of two’ adults, living in rural Oregon near Corvallis. Our vision is to demonstrate the efficacy of sharing ‘all things common’ in a sustainable manner. It is our intention to create a rural, communal village and eventually to have other branches – both urban and rural. We are looking for partners to assist us; either through donations, or by moving to this area and living together to expand the demonstration.”

I do think this is the time to shake things up in the way we live our lives and move towards a society of sharing and caring for the earth and for all it’s inhabitants: trees, plants, animals, people.

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