I am not sure what it was about yesterday’s Farm Stand, but I came home completely in another mental world. It was like my head was in some haze and I couldn’t remember things or concentrate on much at all. Every once in a while a fragment of reality would pop up, like remembering a part of a conversation or an important piece of paper or a card someone had given me, but not knowing where I put it. I am sure I got in that state because there were so many people I was happily chatting with the whole day and it was an overload of stimulation. It was also an intense day at the end, me having to don the role of police person because of one person in line who didn’t speak English, and did not understand the kind of scene we are trying to create at the Free Farm Stand.

I love rescuing and distributing free produce from local organic farmer’s markets, it to me is a form of urban gleaning. I also like doing what I can do to address the issue of hunger and food insecurity in our neighborhood, issues I think we can’t ignore. I also like staying small and personal. A friend whom I work with at the Free Farm on a regular basis came to the Free farm Stand for the first time and I really appreciated her perspective.  She told me she likes the farm stand we run on Saturdays at the Free Farm a lot better. It is small in terms of the number of people who come and we mostly just give out produce that we grow there, not the tons of produce saved from the fancy farmer’s markets. So we don’t get the long line and the intense craziness that some people bring, causing an unpleasant scene to say the least. Also, the people who come automatically see the connection between the farm and the produce they take home.  We need a farm in the Mission I have known that for a while. It is such a challenge to distribute large amounts of produce in a respectful and dignified way and I know that the language barrier is one big part of that challenge.

spring bounty

Earlier in the morning  I learned about a Hebrew word Kavanah and was thinking about it it during the day. As I get it the meaning is  “concentration” or”intention” or as a friend wrote me in an email “direction of the heart”. At the service I was attending it was pointed out that one needs a cetain amount of Kavanah while saying prayers. I guess we at the least  have to be aware of and keep in mind whom we are praying or speaking to. I have been thinking how this applies to the work I am most familiar with, that of service or karma yoga. Another form of prayer or meditation as I see it. Yesterday perhaps I needed more Kavanah.

There are so many beautiful people I meet every day when I am at the stand or the farm and I  always feel so happy to meet and talk with them all. Yesterday I met a couple of sisters, one who was visiting the other from New York. Nicolette, the sister who lives in the bay area, dropped by the stand with a 7lbs of lettuce and 2lbs of kale from a non-profit farm she is starting in Petaluma.  The vegetables were so neatly bunched and tied together like boquets. She comes to the city often and wants to bring more vegetables to share with us.

On Friday I picked lemons from a neighbors tree and brought 34lbs to the stand. I also had another 31lbs of lemons my friend Erik picked and someone else brought 5lbs to the stand. I also had a lot of tomato seedlings and some rocoto hot pepper plants I had gotten from Pam from City College. The plants go very fast and hopefully I will get some feedback from people how they grew (I am curious because most of the plants were growing too big for the pots and were stressed out).

Whenever I hear of a friend driving to parts south of San Francisco, like Southern California in particular, I see if they can pick me up a hard to get plant or tree for me to bring back because the nurseries are so much better there. So I am excited that to hear that Erik not only got me a Reed avocado to plant here, he also picked more lemons  on the way back. Bless it up!

Check out the most recent workday at the Free Farm blog at thefreefarm.org. This week there is a great selection of photos and a little text going with each one.

 


The two weeks of self-promoting our work for the Bay Citizen of Tomorrow online voting contest is finally over!  I am so grateful and thankful on many levels. We came in 2nd place with most votes (over 5,000 total voted is all the Bay Citizen web site said)) and we got a $2,500 check for the Free Farm Stand and Free Farm at a fancy award dinner last week. I am most grateful and thankful for all the support that we got from people literally all over the world voting (and more than once). All the other groups in the contest were worthy of the awards. The East Bay Children’s Book Project was the winner and got $5,000 and Loved Twice who gives out free baby clothes came in third and got $1,000. I was a little sad that SF Refresh and Megan  got less votes. I hope we work with them in future SF events this year.

The ceremony I attended with Angie was fun as it turned out (I was somewhat dreading it). It was a very formal affair, with a lot of people and reporters connected to the online newspaper the Bay Citizen. Plus there was a room full of philanthropist types and folks with money I assumed (judging from the cost of tickets).  I paced myself with the free cocktails  (I am such a newbie at bars I needed help deciding what kind of drink I should go with: I wound up with a screwdriver…It just came back to me now that I remember having that drink at a Bar Mitizvah of a cousin years and years ago). Two of those got me through most of the night. I was well lubricated and could talk and be Mister Sociable. I also lucked out that they were able to accompany my vegan diet with two small but delicious dishes.  Fortunately I didn’t have to give a speech and I met a foundation person that wants to visit us. How good can it get!

this was the salad

this was my main course

the desert with dairy I didn’t eat

On Saturday I had a real blast at the Free Farm.  Another one of my dreams is finally becoming a reality. If any of you have been reading these blogs, you might know of my vision of propagating avocado trees and giving them away at the Free Farm Stand. On Friday I went to the garden at 18th and Rhode Island  to collect bud wood from two avocados that I helped plant there three years ago. Actually I was so happy going there and seeing all the trees we planted,  I think there are now up to 100 fruit and nut trees there in that future food forest.  They were all mostly doing really well and some had fruit and nuts on the trees. Anyway I scored some budwood from the Sir Prize and Lamb Haas trees and took it to the Free Farm on Saturday. We held a informal workshop where I demonstrated my method of budding the avocado trees I have been propagating there from seed in the greenhouse. I am really just learning to do this and have had some small successes so far (at the 18th and Rhode Island I also saw some grafts that had taken that we had done on the sapote tree there ).  Anyway I am crossing my fingers that these buds take.

It was such a thrill today at the Free Farm Stand to give away some avocados from trees I helped plant years ago that were growing just down the street from the Free Farm Stand. Unfortunately, the people who picked the fruit didn’t know that it takes some experience knowing when to pick an avocado. Haas avocados for example, the kind we gave out, need to remain on a tree for one year before they are ready to pick.  I could tell that the ones we gave out were probably too young to pick, judging by the color and size of the fruit. I am not sure if they will ripen or  will have much flavor or be creamy or watery. Cross our fingers again.

Norma & Lolita with our hecka local produce

I was a little jealous of the  Farm Stand at the Free Farm on Saturday. I never thought of having two farm stands and my original idea was to have the Free Farm Stand located on an urban farm so people could really see the link between farm and table. It turned out the land that was available for a farm was not located in the Mission where I have been living and working since 1974. This is something I have been thinking about a lot, whether there should just be one farm stand located at the Free Farm t or try to manifest a farm in the Mission.

So when we harvested our raspberries they were so beautiful and delicious, but we really had to give them away there at the Free Farm. We couldn’t ship them to the Mission! I can’t tell you how much I love raspberries and the few plants that we put in at the community garden where the Free Farm Stand is go mainly to the kids adventurous enough to find them. We did get some of the strawberries though, enough to give people in line a little taste.

 

Talking about fruit, a woman with two kids came by with a peach tree seedling she somehow got and gave it to us. I thought it would be fun if we got her kids to pot up the seedling and it turned out to be such a beautiful experience. Pancho translated as I showed them what to do and then we took a tour of the trees we planted last week.  We left the potted tree under the shade of a sister plum tree we planted last week and I think the family had a good experience.