Yesterday was such a turnaround day. To really get what is going on with the Free Farm Stand and to understand my total excitement, you must check in at the Free Farm blog once in a while (http://www.thefreefarm.org/). Especially right now we have some fabulous bloggers taking photos and recording the workdays. It was a turnaround day because after getting totally soaked the day before (despite working in a greenhouse a lot of the time), the sun came out in all its gloriousness and blessed us with her warming rays.
I think we should call this season the arugula season, because it seems a lot of farmers are growing this now and they seem to grow way more then they sell. I was really pleased that the Free Farm provided 23lbs of kale and 5 lbs of lettuce, all harvested in the rain by our great team of volunteers.
Last week there has been other urban agricultural news. One thing that caught the attention of probably all of us in the food growing world is the controversy around the actions of the Dervaes family (http://urbanhomestead.org/), who patented the phrase “Urban Homesteading”. This family early on has been an inspiration to me and I am sure many others in their work of growing so much food at their small Pasadena home. I myself wouldn’t say I am part of the urban homesteading movement. It reminds me of the days when the back to the land movement happened and there seemed to be a lot of attention to individual and self-centered survival. Not that I don’t think it is great to get off the grid and feed our own families, but I think there also needs to be a focus of creating networks of sharing with our neighbors, especially those in need. How about an Urban Sharing Homestead or Farmstead?
It did bother me though reading that the Dervaes family did approach Facebook and asked for sites to be shut down that used the phrase Urban Homestead. In particular, Ruby who is a longtime friend who I admire for her great work across the bay, the Institute of Urban Homesteading (http://www.iuhoakland.com/), had to change the name of her Facebook page to the New Institute of Urban-Home-steading (with a hyphen). It is funny that everyone (the Dervaes family and the urban homesteaders who sell classes or homestead products) seems to be against the corporatization and commercialism of our emerging culture. They want to protect it somehow from the capitalists, from there being corporate owned homesteading jingles on TV or in Newsweek. The only way I see that happening is for us all to go free since it is harder to make a buck off of something that is totally free and promotes sharing. Here are two links about this silly but deep controversy and there is even now a Take Back the Urban Homestead page on Facebook.
The good news is that there is always something beautiful growing in our garden we call daily living. Tomorrow the San Francisco Seed Library opens at the Potrero Library (https://sites.google.com/site/sfseedlibrary/home). I went through their 31 page catalog with 374 plant varieties. One can check out seeds anytime the library is open for free! A big thank you to all the people and Transition SF that made this project a reality!
Two last things.
From reading our Free Farm blog I learned about a new website administered by our San Francisco government, SF Food–http://www.sfgov3.org/index.aspx?page=753 . Some of their links seem out of date and there is no mention of us on their site (maybe that is a good thing). I did like seeing the SF Food Security Task Force’s “Hunger and Food Insecurity On the Rise in San Francisco” report dated November 2010. They claim that over 17,000 lbs. of fresh produce and honey was contributed by the urban agricultural community in San Francisco to needy San Franciscans in 2010. I wonder if they got those figures partly from us (we distributed almost 13,000 lbs. of hecka locally grown produce since we starting recording weights in 2009).
Here is news from the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance (http://www.sfuaa.org/ ). The Planning Commission approved the urban agriculture zoning proposal last week. However, “The Commission did not support waiving permit fees, changing fencing language or pooled produce…” So if you grow food to give away other rather than just for you and your family consuming it on site, you supposedly need to pay a fee to do that, if I understand things correctly; and the fence around your farm can’t be chain-link, and you can’t give away bowls of homemade guacamole from your avocado trees without a permit fee. Or maybe that is only if you start a new farm. Still permit fees discourage doing things for those without much money.