Living for Loam

I don’t want to be a numbers queen, but again this week our new Free Farm provided a lot of produce for the Stand, 80 pounds (including 13 pounds of baby lettuce mix). I just discovered if you click on the green number above for the amount of Hecka Local Food given away you will open up the spreadsheet that totals the amount of produce for each garden supplying food for the stand and also produce that others contribute. The fava beans are coming in from other gardens too. This not just about quantity because we are talking the freshest, most nutritious produce one can get in the city for free to boot.

Antonio led another fabulous garden workshop, this time about growing plants in the Brassica family, which included a hands-on demonstration of potting up broccoli. I relearned the importance of not handling the seedling that is being potted up by the stem which is very delicate and can be damaged. A friend of a friend of Pancho’s named Carlo came all the way up from Santa Cruz where he is finishing a Phd in agro ecology. He helped give out bread and translated the workshop into Spanish. I feel really happy that we are making the effort to reach out to all our neighbors especially the Hispanic community.  Having more people speaking Spanish to those who come by helps deepen the connection that people have with what is going on every week.

So it is funny, in some ways I feel I have achieved my goal that I set out upon when I started the Free Farm Stand two years ago: I wanted to be a real urban farmer and to see how much food that I could grow and give away in the city. I suppose before I retire (ha ha) and move unto some new fabulous project, I should figure out how to keep the production going (which involves better crop planning as farmers call it I think). And training others to carry others to carry on this work. I still dream of a community of like minded spiritual folks living together and running cool service projects together like this.  I do think it is the next step in this project of food justice and making cities sustainable.

In the meantime, the Free Farm Stand continues serving lots of people and it is really a blast being part of the group effort growing what we give away. It also seems like soon we will be distributing produce at the farm site, because already people are asking for produce over there and there is a lot of need.  In fact some produce was given away already. I think we will not have another Free Farm Stand, but at our visitor table have produce that is put out when we are there.

On Sunday I talked to a gardener friend that just returned from Illinois and she was telling me how much she missed the soil there: a deep dark fluffy loam. She got me excited just imagining what it is like and sad that mostly the majority of food grown there is feed corn and soybeans. Plus it is sad that that soil is rapidly being lost because of corporate agriculture and mono-cropping.  I can’t say I am feeling  much excitement with our soil yet. It is pure sand with some manure or compost mixed in. It doesn’t seem alive yet and it is far from black and loamy.  Things are growing well so that is encouraging. So if we can all be soil builders in our lifetime what a way to give back to mother earth.

Talking about soil on Tuesday night May 18th at 7:30pm the Hayes Valley Farm is having a fundraiser for their wheelbarrow fund and they are showing a movie called Dirt which I really want to see. It seems we all need wheelbarrows these days to move mulch and manure around, in our case we have a lot of wheelbarrows that have flat tires (we need tires or innertubes).  Unfortunately Hayes Valley doesn’t say no one turned away for lack of funds, how un-progressive, though maybe you aren’t supposed to invite people without money to a benefit to raise money. Here is the info: http://www.hayesvalleyfarm.com/activities/events-and-activities/details/52-farm-film-night-kick-off.html.

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