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I just got back from Nevada City (an old mining town), just taking a much needed break and visiting two very close friends. It was cool and cloudy most of my visit and not the usual hot weather they get up there this time of year.  I did get a chance to walk in the woods and visit a creek and get into talks about the Tao Te Ching that I am currently reading (my latest meditation is that the three things we need in our lives are simplicity, patience, and compassion, including compassion towards ourselves). My friend David said that Americans talk about being out of our heads while the French talk about being out of our pelvis.  Good things to think about while walking in the woods relaxing. I also got a chance to visit a small farm, a beautiful back yard garden, and visit some nurseries where I scored some plants for the Free Farm. I fell in love with Phlox and made friends with a giant old walnut tree. It was for a lack of a better word a groovy experience.

I wrote to Pancho and asked him how the Free Farm Stand went last Sunday. Here is what he wrote:

In all these Sundays, I haven’t seen so many people gathering at the park.
Some stories…

  • A 65 year old swung by with 30 lbs of giant fragrant yellow lemons. People felt the love when they saw them and every time I could, I explained that this man woke up early this morning to pick these lemons with his own hands and brought them to the stand… how do you measure that love?
  • One of the Chinese women brought green tomatoes from her garden (and some lettuce and dry rice from the food bank).
  • The stand was packed non-stop from 1230 to 1530hrs [that is 12:30 to 3:30pm). There was little food from food runners so there was no food by 1340hrs [1:40pm]. At 1410 hrs [2:10pm] the first truck from the other Farmers Market arrived and we start gifting the food at 1425hrs. Then the second truck arrived. My guestimate is that we gave food to close to ~350 people.
  • Many first timers could not believe that this kind of project existed. It is always so refreshing to explain what the gift-economy and unconditional love is all about.
  • A Mexican woman came at the 1400hrs [2:00pm] and I gave her a peach. She didn’t want to eat  it because it was bruised. I cut the ugly part and she tasted the incredible flavor of a summer juicy sweet peach. She stayed with her daughter and husband for the second round, all the time with shining eyes.
  • I repeated the experiment of the peach with a young girl (5 year old with white skin) and her mom. The exquisiteness of peaches doesn’t know about the difference in the colors of skin.
  • Wendy (Huen Son) gave recipes of bitter melon shoots and we stressed the point that it was very good for people with diabetes for it reduces the level of sugar in our blood. A lot of people were asking how to cook/eat bitter melon. What if we provide some sort of healthy dishes for people with diabetes?
  • Jorge, the medicine man, came again and blessed us with sage and universal love.
  • My friend Michelle (the partner of Adam who started The Local in Berkeley) came for the first time! She has been working in Farmers Markets for years and she was a great input to serve and organize the food during the second/third run.

Pancho also wrote about the Free Farm workday that I missed too:

At the Free Farm…It was a great day to connect with people in the neighborhood. Two women from the building came and both of them had incredible stories. The first one, Diana, had Italian origin and as such the love flowed naturally as we speak about different recipes and healthy food. Amy felt she was talking with one of her Italian relatives back in the East Coast, and we wanted to have a cup of tea with doña Diana. The second one, doña Rosa from the part of the Planet we call Chile (I believe), told us that she prays every day for us and for the crops to grow in the Free Farm. That was very sweet.

  • Justine had her debut as Yoga teacher in the Free Farm and she said she can coordinate with Mike to have more Yoga. She said she will be able to commit for a couple of weekends a month.
  • Page and Damon almost finished up the terraces and they are ready to receive a doses of compost.
  • Some hot chilies were planted by the tomatoes.

Griff just created a Facebook page for the Free Farm (I created one for the Free Farm Stand before I left on my short trip), though I must admit I do not quite understand how you use Facebook. He also wrote a great update to the Free Farm that is at our website http://thefreefarm.org/

The movie Fresh, which I haven’t seen yet, has decided to give 1% of its income for 2010 to a”non-profit who is doing incredible things in the food world”. I applied for this money and there are  42 other applications, including the Hayes Valley Farm and Produce to the People. I guess if we make it to the top 10 (though I am not holding my breath)   you will be able to vote on the winner.  I think a lot of the applicants sound wonderful and some are doing similar work to us. It is fun to read about them: http://www.freshthemovie.com/blog/.

It is apple and pear picking time  and I wonder if there are any wanna be apple/pear  pickers out there that may want to pick some apples for the  Free Farm Stand? Please contact me if you are available and when. Last night I discovered a pack of about 8 raccoons in our walnut tree possibly gleaning (eating?) our walnuts. So if the raccoons can organize a harvest so can we humans

I just got back from Nevada City, just taking a much needed break and visiting two very close friends. It was cool and cloudy most of my visit and not the usual hot weather they get up there this time of year. I did get a chance to walk in the woods and visit a creek and get into talks about the Tao Te Ching that I am currently reading (my latest meditation is that the three things we need in our lives are simplicity, patience, and compassion, including compassion towards ourselves. My friend David said that Americans talk about being out of our heads while the French talk about being out of our pelvis. Good things to think about while walking in the woods relaxing. I also got a chance to visit a small farm, a beautiful back yard garden, and visit some nurseries where I scored some plants for the Free Farm. I fell in love with Phlox and made friends with a giant old walnut tree.

I wrote to Pancho and asked him how the Free Farm Stand went last Sunday. Here is what he wrote:


“In all these Sundays, I haven’t seen so many people gathering at the park.

Some stories…

  • A 65 year old swung by with 30 lbs of giant fragrant yellow lemons. People felt the love when they saw them and every time I could, I explained that this man woke up early this morning to pick these lemons with his own hands and brought them to the stand… how do you measure that love?
  • One of the Chinese women brought green tomatoes from her garden (and some lettuce and dry rice from the food bank).
  • The stand was packed non-stop from 1230 to 1530hrs [that is 12:30 to 3:30pm). There was little food from food runners so there was no food by 1340hrs [1:40pm]. At 1410 hrs [2:10pm] the first truck from the other Farmers Market arrived and we start gifting the food at 1425hrs. Then the second truck arrived. My guestimate is that we gave food to close to ~350 people.
  • Many first timers could not believe that this kind of project existed. It is always so refreshing to explain what the gift-economy and unconditional love is all about.
  • A Mexican woman came at the 1400hrs [2:00pm] and I gave her a peach. She didn’t want to eat it because it was bruised. I cut the ugly part and she tasted the incredible flavor of a summer juicy sweet peach. She stayed with her daughter and husband for the second round, all the time with shining eyes.
  • I repeated the experiment of the peach with a young girl (5 year old with white skin) and her mom. The exquisiteness of peaches doesn’t know about the difference in the colors of skin.
  • Wendy (Huen Son) gave recipes of bitter melon shoots and we stressed the point that it was very good for people with diabetes for it reduces the level of sugar in our blood. A lot of people were asking how to cook/eat bitter melon. What if we provide some sort of healthy dishes for people with diabetes?
  • Jorge, the medicine man, came again and blessed us with sage and universal love.
  • My friend Michelle (the partner of Adam who started The Local in Berkeley) came for the first time! She has been working in Farmers Markets for years and she was a great input to serve and organize the food during the second/third run.”

Pancho also wrote about the Free Farm workday that I missed too:

“At the Free Farm…It was a great day to connect with people in the neighborhood. Two women from the building came and both of them had incredible stories. The first one, Diana, had Italian origin and as such the love flowed naturally as we speak about different recipes and healthy food. Amy felt she was talking with one of her Italian relatives back in the East Coast, and we wanted to have a cup of tea with doña Diana. The second one, doña Rosa from the part of the Planet we call Chile (I believe), told us that she prays every day for us and for the crops to grow in the Free Farm. That was very sweet.

  • Justine had her debut as Yoga teacher in the Free Farm and she said she can coordinate with Mike to have more Yoga. She said she will be able to commit for couple of weekends a month.
  • Page and Damon almost finished up the terraces and they are ready to receive a doses of compost.
  • Some hot chiles were planted by the tomatoes.”

Griff just created a Facebook page for the Free Farm (I created one for the Free Farm Stand before I left on my short trip), though I must admit I do not quite understand how you use Facebook. He also wrote a great update to the Free Farm that is at our website http://thefreefarm.org/

The movie Fresh, which I haven’t seen yet, has decided to give 1% of its income for 2010 to a”non-profit who is doing incredible things in the food world”. I applied for this money and there are 42 other applications, including the Hayes Valley Farm and Produce to the People. I guess if we make it to the top 10 (though I am not holding my breath) you will be able to vote on the winner. I think a lot of the applicants sound wonderful and some are doing similar work to us. It is fun to read about them: http://www.freshthemovie.com/blog/.

It is apple and pear picking time and I wonder if there are any wanna be apple/pear pickers out there that may want to pick some apples for the Free Farm Stand? Please contact me if you are available and when.


It was one of those Free Farm Stand Sundays where when we were finished I got home and was exhausted, but felt it was such a great day. You can’t go wrong when the sun comes out and it turns out to be a beautiful day. In the early morning Griff arrived at my house when I was loading the van and dropped off surplus greens (chard, kale, and collards) from his community garden plot at White Crane Community Garden. Then when I arrived at the park, sitting at the garden gate was a small brown bag of lemon cucumbers with a note that someone dropped off. That felt really sweet. I haven’t gotten around to putting up a sign explaining what the Free Farm Stand is about for all the new people arriving, that it is more than your typical produce give away. Right when we started setting up, some  neighbors and people starting showing up with surplus to share from their backyards. Lemons, oranges,  apples and pears (from Vallejo!), Calamansi fruit, apples from Produce to the People,  and later some rue from Lisa’s garden (I saw people taking it). We seem to be getting less produce from the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, but we are still getting a good selection of “hecka local” produce mostly from our farm.  The only other two places I have been consistently harvesting produce from are the permaculture garden which seems to be neglected and not getting replanted and the Esperanza garden which just notified me that they want to save their harvests for their volunteers and they might possibly set up a stand there on Fridays.  We had a lot of green beans and we are still going strong with zucchini and the new collards we planted are just starting to yield. We also had a nice collection of potatoes that are one of the most fun things to grow and harvest. Another nice touch at the Stand is that Michael brought some beautiful ginger flowers that he picked from his backyard garden that he put up for display and then later gave them away to some folks getting produce. Below are some photos from the Stand and the Free Farm.

One of the things that made my day is having Pancho back from his Ahimsa work in Arizona. He actually came to the Free Farm on Wednesday and I got to meet his family from Mexico. I love meeting my family of my friends; it just brings me closer to them.  By the way, Pancho’s dad likes giving hugs too. His stories about the immigration battle going on there were really interesting.

Pancho is really our best diplomat at the Free Farm Stand. I asked him to handle crowd control when people were lining up for the second round of produce. The lines were already long the whole day. I counted 64 people in the first line that went down from the gate down to the corner of 23rd St. and we estimated we served maybe 200 people and that is being conservative in the count! We were really fortunate to have a woman show up to volunteer named Jamie who spoke Mandarin and Cantonese. Pancho and Jamie explained to the crowd in Cantonese, English, and Spanish that for the second shift we would like to give first priority to people who didn’t get produce already and that they should be at the front of the line. They pointed out that things here are run on the honor system and that we wanted everyone to feel like family rather than an institution, and that is why we don’t give out tickets. A young girl translated what they were saying into Arabic for her mother. Later Pancho and Jamie talked to some of the Chinese women and they expressed some criticism of how they were treated last week, like they were being singled out as a group and that they felt hurt. We apologized and I felt it was really great that because of Jamie we were able to initiate some dialog about these issues. It seemed like once we started handing out the produce things went more smoothly and were less tense than the week before.

At some point Jacob came by with his parents who were visiting from Los Angeles and that was also fun meeting them and seeing Jacob. They came just before the second round of produce arrived and Jacob pitched in to help sort it and get it on the table.

I just ran across a video on the internet made by SFSU students about the Free Farm Stand and the Free Farm. It was made on a day that we were serving in the rain and also there is some footage of a sunny workday at the Free Farm. I uploaded it to our section of “Free Farm Stand in the news” on the right sidebar. Also, if you check out the Free Farm blog at http://thefreefarm.org/ I uploaded a slide show that Jacob created about the history of the Free Farm.

I guess the most exciting part of the day is just taking to all the old and new friends that stop by. I was thrilled for example to see Maggie, a former volunteer, who dropped by who is now living in Nevada City working on a CSA farm. She always fills me in with great stories. We got to talking about marijuana (you know I have never grown it even though I love the plant). She was saying a lot of strange stuff is happening in Oakland now with the marijuana industry there. With the possibility of it becoming legal in California I think the challenge is to keep marijuana growing and clubs in the hands of small growers, just like we want to support small farmers. The large corporations are out their waiting and prepared to step in to take over marijuana production and distribution and steer it in the direction that the alcohol, tobacco, and large scale organic  farming industry has gone now. Maggie said she heard of a marijuana grower in the east bay who has started diversifying what they grow to adapt to the changes coming. So they are the first CSA to offer besides fruits and vegetables, a marijuana option. It makes sense drug and food “medicine” in one basket.  I think that the best way to keep things from going corporate is to run a business with the built in safeguard of being free. Maybe once things are legal I will grow pot and give it away at our stand (with a free cottage industry making free vaporizers).