Farmin’ Faith

Yesterday Lauren offered to pick up the produce on Saturday and run the stand on Sunday, giving me a much needed break. My back yard garden has been needing attention so I finally got out there for a good chunk of time and I actually got a lettuce lawn planted. The garden hasn’t recovered from the cutting down of the big black acacia tree though more sun is coming in. One mysterious thing happened after the tree was cut down is that the bees in our hive disappeared. I noticed less bees flying in and out so I opened up the hive and most of the bees were gone, including the queen. Without a queen the hive dies as a colony (worker bees live only about four to six weeks). Right now we are going to take a break from beekeeping.

Since I wasn’t at the stand on Sunday I don’t have a firsthand account, though I heard it went well. I do know we had a large amount of Hecka Local produce thanks mostly to the Free Farm (41lbs. of collards) and 18th and Rhode Island (25lbs of fava beans, 6lbs of chard). We also had one pound of very beautiful purple green broccoli from the same garden.

Other produce arrived at the table including fresh picked greens from Treat Commons and a man named Howard brought by 45lbs of lemons from a neighbor’s tree and 5lbs of kale, chard, cilantro, and Asian greens grown at 27th and Church. Stanford Glean brought leeks and cabbages. I also heard that Autumn, one of our regulars who often brings open containers of olives from the Farmer’s Market and who plays beautifully on the violin, brought by a massage chair and gave people massages! Also, Eduardo whom I met briefly at the Free Farm ran the plant table and this week we had a lot of plants and starts to give away.

Another historic event took place on Saturday at the Free Farm. A mini-free farm stand was set up on the sidewalk and approximately 40 pounds of lettuce and greens were given away to neighbors and volunteers. Also there were lemons from Stanford Glean. At this point we are still working out the details of the stand and how it works and whether it will be a weekly thing. I heard that about 20 people came by.

I missed the entire morning of the workday at the Free Farm because I was invited months ago to speak at AAscend (Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Coalition for Education, Networking and Development). I enjoyed meeting that community of people and felt really comfortable sharing not only the work I am involved with, but some personal details of my life and my own uniqueness.

When I got to the Free Farm I met Sandy from Temple Emanu-el and some of the crew who used to work at the Pea’h Garden in the cemetery that grew food and gave it to the Food Bank. They are planning on opening the farm the first Sunday of the month from 10-noon.

Sandy brought with her Michael who is the executive director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council. Some of our farm crew had a wonderful conversation with them about how we can work together and not only feed those in need, but create a farm that also is a sanctuary without walls. I think we all believe that what makes our farm unique is that we are interested in not only making our cities more sustainable environmentally, but we emphasize making sure no one goes hungry and that all people have access to healthy, local, organic produce. We also want to build on the idea that the garden/farm is a place where people can go to heal and nurture themselves and be close to the power of creation, coming with whatever faith they carry with them. I was thinking that the Free Farm is a faith based operation. That we seem to run more on faith these days than anything else, like money for example. Faith that things will grow in this sandy soil, faith that volunteers will help us farm, faith that we can get the material things we need to make this farm work, like hoses,  drip pipe, dump trucks full of manure, sheds, or greenhouses, faith that we can all learn to work with each other, faith that we can all treat each other with compassion and love.

Molly a student who interviewed me on the phone a while back for her school project at Tufts just sent me her final report. It is titled is “From Factories to Fresh Food. Planning for Urban Agriculture in Somerville” ( It is rather long and well researched (137 pages) and if you can get to page 87 there is a “case study” of the Free Farm Stand. There are some errors, but it certainly does give one the idea that there is another ship our project is traveling on rather than the entrepreneurship of local organic produce. 

Here are two vegan recipes that Molly sent me:

Fava Beans, Lemon and Potato Soup.

I peel the beans to get the beans only. There are two shells.  You can probably eat the inner shell, too, but I just use the shelled beans – about 1 cup to 1.5 cups of beans. Here is a very detailed article on how to shell fava beans including the inner shell with good pictures: Put them in a large saucepan with three scallions, chopped; or one largish leek, chopped. Dice up one tablespoon of curly parsley or cilantro and add. Add about 2 tbs of olive oil and 1 tsp of mashed crushedgarlic. On a low heat, sauté these items stirring lightly and consistently, so as not to damage the beans. Sautee until the leek/onions have turned clear and the spices are thoroughly blended with the vegetables. Turn off heat. Add juice of one lemon. Cover and let stand. Wash and peel, if desired, 2 or 3 medium sized Yukon potatoes (these are my favorite and most flavorful small potato). Cut into one inch bite sized pieces. Add enough water or vegetable broth to cover the beans well. Add potatoes. Add a bit more liquid as needed. Heat again on a medium heat until simmering. Simmer soup for about 30 to 40 minutes, turn down and cook a bit longer, stirring occasionally to mix all the elements. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Serve hot. You can add plain soy to hot soup for a ‘creamy’ version. Or yogurt or soy yogurt. Good with crackers or homemade bread or croutons.

Makes about 4 large servings.


 Fava Bean Spread

1 cup or less of cooked fava beans, salted
One tablespoon of olive oil.
Lemon juice
Parsely chopped, fine.
Mash together. Add more of your favorite oil and more lemon to taste.
Eat on bread or crackers with diced onion or tomato, or fresh basil.
You could also put a bit of tahini in instead of oil, for a creamier result.

 Makes a bit more than one cup.

She also sent me some photos she had taken a while back. I like this one especially

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