Cabbage without Baggage

The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings—

The handsome blue/purple cabbages that we grew on the Free Farm were really the Carnival stars of the Free Farm Stand. Besides being a total miracle, everyone that saw them immediately sensed that something special was going on, and that somehow this impressed on folks that we were really farmers after all. I am utterly speechless as to how we grew such perfect things and I am looking forward to learn how they taste.  The fava beans too played a major role on the Free Farm Stand table/stage. I had picked about fifty pounds  of them (it took me hours) and a man came by with 10 more pounds of favas that he grew in his backyard (he said he had eaten about 20 pounds already).  We also had 58lbs of oranges from Stanford Glean and collards and lettuce from the farm. Cristina also brought by some onions and other things from some garden (the Secret Garden?). I brought some Meyer lemons from our backyard tree. At some point in the day Danny from Sour Flour showed up with about 18 loaves of warm whole wheat sour dough bread that he just baked to give out at the stand. What a beautiful treat! It was sort of crazy with all the Acme bread we had, but this bread was not only whole grain, fresh from the oven, and baked on 24th Street with love (how can you get more  local?). Plus the more Danny comes around people can find out that he teaches people how to bake their own bread and that is what we like the most…when the oil runs out, we will be growing our own grains and baking our own bread in cob solar ovens and breaking bread at the communal table.

We also had one of the most full plant  tables of all times. I have so many seedlings right now to give away and if anyone needs some starts they can contact me or come to the Free Farm on our workdays.

Here is the part I talk not about kings nor queens (though some may be) but saints in our midst. As I reported I had been contacted about the Stonestown Mall Farmer’s Market needing someone to pick up the leftover produce on Sundays. It turns out Angie knew another nurse at Tom Waddell public health clinic that lived near there and was already picking up the unsold food from Trader Joes on Sundays and offered to pick up the left over produce for us. She has been making treats for the patients in the women’s clinic she works in which everyone really appreciates. She’ll go through cases of challenged strawberries and make fruit cups with yogurt or make crouton snacks with the stale bread. She does this on her own time on top of her regular job.

So this week she made the first trip there and picked up a truck full of mostly local organic produce. She gave us some of her excess Trader Joe produce that included bananas that were neither local nor organic, but were very popular and more bread. She showed up around 2pm or so after we had run pretty low. Maybe it was because of Carnival that we had a steady stream of people coming throughout the day and we really had no produce left around 3pm. I have to confess that as much as I want to support growing our own produce I am still obsessed with giving away beautiful  organic produce from our local farmers at the end of their market day. When she showed up she told me they said “where have you been we have been waiting for someone to pick up our surplus”.

I see people like her or Danny as saints or angels that are everywhere working quietly, doing their special goodness in the world.  Not that all of us can’t become saints in our own way, it just takes being really passionate about something and supporting our passions by translating them into action.

It is wonderful to note that the Free Farm Stand and the Free Farm are generating a lot of excitement and that we are getting a lot of great volunteers.  A day doesn’t go by when I don’t feel appreciation for our volunteers that are keeping these projects growing and going. In a world that today is drowning in negative news at least we can make our own news positive and upbeat and hopeful. I am currently reading a inspiring library book called Jesus Freak by Sara Miles (who runs St. Gregory’s Food Pantry among other things). I picked it up because I was told by a friend that I was mentioned in the book. It turns out she is quite a story teller and though her facts are not quite correct, the spirit of what she says is right on.  She and I have had similar experiences in the world of food programs and I liked  reading her experiences of how to deal with problem people, be they volunteers or guests. What inspires me most about the book though is understanding her take on institutional religion, specifically Christianity and Jesus, something I have been distant from in my own life. The message of all religions and great teachers is pretty much the same and simple, and includes feeding, healing, forgiving (and the part I haven’t read yet raising the dead).

On Saturday at the Free Farm we started a small produce stand and gave away some of the produce grown there. About 16 pounds of cabbage, collards, and lettuce  were distributed, as well as oranges from Stanford Glean. One of the sweetest things that happened while I happen to be there is that old woman who lived in the building next door came by with a cabbage dish she had made. She said in broken English that she loved cabbage and that whenever she got more cabbage she could make more of this dish because it was quick and easy to make. She took the cabbage and collards we had given her and some carrots and cut them up and then poured boiling water of them to make them wilt. Then she added I think a little vinegar, sugar, and salt. It was pretty tasty.

Like I said above I really harvested the fava beans this week. One box came from 18th and Rhode Island and the other came from Esperanza Garden. It was great working in Esperanza again, a garden I stopped working in because I am just too spread out. Alana told me they could use some more regular volunteers to keep it open more often.

Next Saturday we are shortening the work day that will go until lunch and then we will close. A number of us want to attend Griff’s ordination to the Transitional Diaconate at Grace Cathedral at 2pm.  Griff has been missing from action the last two weeks or so because of his church work. We also miss Poncho who got invited to care take of a friend’s farm in Arizona for a month. He will also be doing some civil disobedience work there in protest of the horrible anti-immigrant  law they passed there. I am keeping him in my prayers.

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