I would like to sing songs of praise to our abundant earth and to the gardeners who work the land and grow food and flowers for our nourishment. I am really appreciating farmers these days after trying to be one myself. The Free Farm Stand felt especially abundant today with hecka local produce. Several friends and neighbors dropped off surplus produce from their gardens. One neighbor showed up with 8 pounds of beautiful rainbow chard from her garden. Friends Pam and Dave brought quite the assortment of garden bounty, including New Zealand spinach, beets, cutting celery, mint, lavender, and bay leaves. Christy had cilantro and chard for us to share.  There were some lemons left from Produce to the People (most went to the other Free Farm Stand). The Free Farm gave away most of its produce to the  farm stand there on Saturday (again I must highly recommend you visit the Free Farm blog, http://thefreefarm.org/, there are great photos of the last workday and a lot of information).  We did give away some yummy kale from the farm though. I am also proud to say that I gave away some of our first greenhouse starts (scarlet runner beans). They were very popular and disappeared as fast as the produce on the table.

beautiful rainbow chard from a neighbor

While singing songs of praise I should mention our great volunteer crew that showed up, including some friends who live in a collective in Scotts Valley who came up today to help.  They took off before the second wave of food showed up, to go help a beautiful project in the east bay that is in the process of being born.

Further thoughts on Monday:

I have a new friend Arlen who is passionate about being vegan and he often sends me articles and information concerning vegan issues. Though the Free Farm Stand doesn’t hit you over the head with a vegan message, I do feel like I am trying to support the idea of doing less harm by eating an animal free diet (though I have given away honey and not all our bread is vegan).  He just sent me information about an event this Saturday March 19th (during our work day at the Free Farm) that sounds like it is worth going to if you are not farming and enjoying our vegan lunch for Free Farm volunteers.  It is a vegan Feed-In at the March and Rally to stop the Wars. It starts at the UN Plaza at noon.

We really should speak out against war, all wars. Violence doesn’t work as a way to build a more peaceful world.

I am slowing getting drawn into a new project. There are two sidewalks, one on Shotwell St. and the other on 23rd St. in front of the beautiful Kali Garden. The sidewalks have been tagged for needing repair and there has been some talk of covering up some of the sidewalk  garden that is there because it is so much work to maintain it. I am thinking of helping them improve the sidewalk garden there and then possibly helping them maintain it on a regular basis. What the sidewalk gardens need most is a low fence around them and I am looking for a volunteer welder to help us create something beautiful. Then I want to plant an artichoke/cardoon orchard as an experimental planting.  Please contact me if you can weld or know someone.

I really thought that this week would almost be a first for the Free Farm Stand. No “Hecka Local” produce. We harvested very little produce from the Free Farm and it was mostly given away there on Saturday. Because of crazy circumstances, the little amount of lettuce in my backyard I didn’t get around to harvesting, and Esperanza garden, the Secret Garden, Treat Commons,  and the 18th and Rhode Island garden didn’t have any produce for me.  I must admit I felt a little discouraged, though I know a lot of work has been going into creating a working farm and greenhouse plus the learning curve of figuring out how to be a real urban farmer. I figured it was going to be a rainy day and it is winter and there might be less people coming for food.

As it turned out, the rain was really light and my friend Bilkis showed up and brought some true  sunshine plus turned up with 20 pounds of surplus lemons from a friends tree in Marin, plus oranges. A friend David from Marin whom I volunteer with at Martin de Porres on the first Sunday of the month, brought some more kiwis from his back yard to share with us. Also, a lot of people showed up and I am always so grateful that people who come are so polite and gracious and happy for the little we give out (though the free Acme bread still keeps coming in great amounts). Arugula is becoming a popular green at the stand these days as well as the many odd things growing this time of year.

The experience only makes me more determined to grow more produce and seedlings. Again this week I was without a camera so we are all text this week.

I forgot to mention a couple of weeks ago I went to the Potrero library to check out seeds from the new SF Seed library housed there: https://sites.google.com/site/sfseedlibrary/home. It was a fabulous experience. I was allowed to “check out” five packets of seed with the understanding I can grow the plants and save seeds to return next year. I got four varieties of basil (actually not a huge amount of seed) and one packet of Early Girl tomato seeds. I know some of the seeds were donated from seed companies, like seed from last year that didn’t sell. It turns out that the Early Girl seed I won’t use because it is a F1 hybrid that someone had saved the seed from and I know they won’t come true.

There is an interesting article, Mr. Vegetable Goes to the Planning Commission, in the Mission Local http://missionlocal.org/2011/02/mr-vegetable-goes-to-the-planning-commission/ about the recent Planning Commission meeting  concerning changing the zoning laws to allow gardeners to sell their produce. While I support the idea of people having the right to sell their city grown produce, I am much less enthusiastic about the issue as it seems most other gardeners and local food people are. Maybe I am the only one or am at least in a minority of people who are really tired of capitalism and that  system of economics.  I must admit that I have some reservations about the issue like  Commissioner Ron Miguel who is quoted in the article. As I see it, hip capitalistic ventures always start out seeming cute and cuddly and friendly and cool. But somewhere down the line things change and the unexpected always turns up. I mean I know why this society bums me out a lot, not exactly because of capitalism. It is because we live in a society that promotes not only over consumption and consumerism, including the devious hip consumerism,  but individualism and looking out for ourselves versus an emphasis on caring about our neighbors and those who might be in need.

I understand this tendency for good things like growing local food to eventually get corporatized (is this a word?) and I am going to stop kvetching about it for now and go out and do what I can do to shift the balance a bit and to help create a free world where we emphasize sharing and caring.  If you agree with me please help me grow more food and seedlings to share. There are still gardens that need attention as well as revolutions to create.

I will end with some good news. Lat week I  spoke at the Capital committee meeting of Park and Recreation  and they approved the project of expanding our garden and orchard into the neglected land next to the garden in the park where we run the stand. They recommended a yes to the full Commission. So on March 17th the full Park and Recreation commission will rubber stamp the proposal  and we will be able to begin erecting a fence and planting fruit trees in April.  I hope we can make the tree planting event a neighborhood celebration.