I thought I would tell the story of the Free Farm Stand this week mostly in pictures with captions. It was Pride Day and perhaps the crowd was a bit smaller, but I couldn’t really tell and we gave most of the produce away by the end.

Tim is one of our Stanford summer interns who is helping us at the Stand and at the Free Farm. We also have Brittany another summer intern from Stanford. She isn’t in any of these photos because she was behind the camera. I really appreciate all the help these days since I am trying to have others run the stand so I can concentrate on the Free Farm and growing seedlings, food, and flowers.

Here is our amazing Mike, a long time volunteer. I thought about calling him the Free Hummus Guy, but he has branched out into jams with all our over ripe summer fruit and delicious pickles. Really his pickling efforts have inspired me to try making them myself, he says they are so simple. He says he learns everything from YouTube.  He was also responsible for bringing surplus dry pinto beans and brown rice and relish to the stand this week.  Are we becoming more like a food pantry?

I brought  new fliers in English, Spanish, and Chinese explaining to new people what the program is all about. Guess what it isn’t all about being a free food giveaway (you can read the English version of the flier  at the end of this blog). Behind the fliers are seedlings we gave away from the greenhouse at the Free Farm. They were very popular although I think we grew too many collard seedlings. I am working on putting more sprinklers in the greenhouse (see our Free Farm Blog) and hopefully that will improve the quality of the starts, because they seemed to me a bit stressed out and yellow. Maybe they need a drink of compost tea also.

Here is me with a basket of loquats I picked from my backyard tree that morning (the fruit does not store well). I had to climb my 14 foot tall orchard ladder to get to them and I also used a fruit picker on a pole to get some of them. Most people liked them, though many people didn’t know what they are. Once they tasted them they were hooked. Also, in the photo are some zucchini from the Free Farm and a few Japanese cucumber that grew in our hothouse.


Quite a summer spread as usual

Mike’s pickles and jams

Many kids wanted to take home seedlings. I think we all have at an early age a connnection to the wonderment of nature and somewhere along the way we lose it.

Like I said the seedlings were popular and I hope to grow more variety and better quality seedlings soon. By the way we can use more potting soil, if you have  a source for this valuable resource. So far we haven’t had to buy any.


At least one person suggested we try to let people know what we are doing, what the vision of our stand is. I tried to explain it here and had this translated into different languages to help with the communication. A number of people told me they appreciated the flier and a couple people said they liked what we were trying to do. There was still a bit of pushiness in the line around the time the second load of food came. I can understand it as the producce looked so abundant and delicious, especially the strawberries and fresh fruit. Hopefully everyone will have time to read the flier when they get home.

I just love these long sunny days and as we enter into summer, it seems so right. I wasn’t at the farm stand yesterday, but got reports that it was a beautiful and bountiful day. I knew that because I loaded the van with many boxes of produce left over from the farmer’s market and also with a small amount of produce from our free farm. We have been harvesting our summer squash.  Here are a couple of pictures from the Free Farm Stand yesterday.

As I may have reported in previous blogs, I am trying to find others to keep the Free Farm Stand running every week.  I love the project and I think what we are doing is unique among programs that try to fight hunger and food insecurity in our city. If we all believe in creating a world that is sustainable, we also have to look at our own lives and figure out how to make things workable. That includes maintaining relationships with friends and family  as well as self. Making room and time to breathe deep in all ways. So I realized that I am over extended and that I have to find people to help run some of the projects that I have sort of fallen into. I want to shore up other projects that need more attention, like growing more food for the stand and especially growing more seedlings. I also have new projects that I want to help launch. One is growing flowers to give away (reccently a friend typed up a beautifully detailed 7 page plan called  “A Free Flower Stand…How to Make it Happen). The other crazy dream I have is to figure out how to get a building to start a commune that can help run some of these projects. I have always believed that the most efficient way to do service work is by living together with a bunch of people and sharing income.  In the old days we called it intentional communities.

I have talked in a past blog of the Urban Kibbutz and I am also inspired by the Catholic Worker model of houses of hospitality. Recently I got a newsletter from the Catholic Worker Farm in Sheep Ranch. It mentioned a gathering of Catholic Worker Farmers and Urban Gardeners that happened in January at their farm. They were celebrating the spirit of Peter Maurin who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement with Dorothy Day in 1933. One of Peter Maurin’s ideas was to form rural farming communities to teach city dwellers farming and back to the land ideas. I think now more than ever we need to not only to form rural farm communities, but  urban farm communities. So the idea of combining urban farming communities with service to the poor  and down and out would be my ideal way of living.

So as a step in this direction I am trying to take off at least two days a month from the Free Farm Stand until we can get more people to do other days. This week while I was gone from the stand I actually went on a field trip to the Stonestown Mall Farmer’s Market to see where our second shift of left over produce came from (I like to  know where the food comes from that we give out). It is a pretty big market with about 26 farmers present. Like I knew already not all the farmers are organic. If you go to this link you can see the list of the farmers who go to this market : http://www.agriculturalinstitute.org/index/getMarketDetails?type=Markets&id=20090528140518.active. Here is the biographies of some of these farmers: http://www.agriculturalinstitute.org/index/biographies.  I noticed a sign up saying that they no longer will allow farmers to put up signs saying no sprays because they are too confusing to shoppers. So the best way to find out what is likely to be on your food that you get is to ask what methods the farmers use to control bugs or how do they fertilize their crops. Of course if you grow your own food or get it from the Free Farm or other gardeners that bring produce to the stand  you don’t need to worry about how it is grown it is all organic.

Right n