It turns out that a number of the few photos taken this week were a behind the scenes look at the Free Farm Stand.  Here is a photo of our hallway right after we loaded it  with boxes of produce from Food Runners direct from the Ferry Building Farmers market.


Actually, part of our crazy routine is that we pick up the produce that is usually in bags and banana boxes and when we get home and we transfer it all into wax boxes that I store during the week. That is so we can fit it all in the van. We have to load the van at Martin de Porres soup kitchen where the food is dropped off and then unload it and repack it and then later, after picking up bread in the evening from Acme Bakery, we reload it into the van. I say we because sometimes I am lucky and have help shelpping the boxes. Notice how some of the boxes fell over, a common occurence becaue I stack them too high and they crush and fall. Also in this stack of boxes are a few boxes of produce from our Free Farm. Here I was admiring the boxes of potatoes we harvested this week, 59 lbs! They were so beautiful!

Yesterday I wa so bummed because I forgot to put a sample away to taste them, they looked so yummy. I also didn’t save any for replanting, double bummer!

When I was repacking my van Sunday morning I had to go to my backyard and grab the zucchini I harvested and weigh it and throw it in with the hecka local box. Here is a  4 pounder.

It is funny later in the morning Margaret gave me another 4 pounder from one of Page’s gardens that looked and weighed about the same. Stuffed bake big  zucchini is delicious.

Before going to the Free Farm Stand at noon, I went with Margaret to a SF Refresh event held at the Free Farm. It was called the Open Cathedral and it was a service put on by  St. Paulus Church who owns the land the farm is on. I didn’t know what to expect and I was really blown away by the scene. It was one of the most beautiful and sweet, funky church services I have ever attended. I learned that Pastor Dan and St. Paulus serves the street crowd it seems. Right off the bat Margaret and I met an older guy named Wesley who was parking his bike and told me he had been connected to St Paulus for 26 years. When I asked him where he lives he said the street is his home by choice and that he lives in a camp nearby with 7 older adults total. He had some great stories to tell about the church and the fire and he also pointed out another man as someone he was partners with for years. The service was a pretty standard Christian church service, but it started out with Pastor Dan saying this was probably the first time in ten years that they have held a service here and many references were made to the spot still being a church though without walls. There was talk about the parable of the mustard seed to explain what the kingdom of heaven is like.Pastor Dan asked the congregants what would be the equivalent parable for the kingdom of heaven today. A number of rambling ideas came from the crowd, not really on target, until at one point someone talked about how he was sitting on the sidewalk and someone came by and offered him some food (maybe it was a pastry) and that act of kindness was like the kindom of heaven. Pator Dan seemed joyous that this person who was probably homeless got the idea right. Pastor Dan said his parable would be the church that got burnt down and then out of the ashes a garden grows up in it. Another touching moment was when an obivious crazy person got up and interrupted the service talking about planets he has created and everyone dealt with him in such a loving manner and got him to quiet down. I was also amazed at Pastor Dans patience and acceptance of everyone. The voices in the choir were sweet also, especially a man who looked a bit like Jack Nicholson (maybe in The Shining) who could really sing a tune. I left for the Free Farm Stand definetly feeling refreshed and inspired by this church who seem to have so much heart for the disinfranchised.


Here are some picures from the Free Farm itself. It was pretty crazy how much food we had and most of it was given away. What we had left over were many boxes of radicchio. Friends from Food Not Bombs dropped offf without asking me probably forty cases of radicchio and forty boxes of mushrooms, neither of which were organic.  I knew there was no way I could give out that much radicchio and I am thinking now the extra will wind up being composted at the Free Farm.

By the way the mushrooms were totally appreciated by everyone.  However, I had organic shitake mushroom that I felt good about, but was unsure about giving away non-organic mushrooms. [Correction: the mushroom boxes were labeled Organic Baby Bellas, so they can be eaten without fear. ] The mushroom info below is still useful.

Looking now at the website What’s on My Food, the link is on the sidebar under links, it shows indeed that mushrooms  are one of the worst foods to eat non-organic.

14 Pesticide Residues Found by the USDA Pesticide Data Program 8 Known or Probable Carcinogens

10 Suspected Hormone Disruptors

2 Neurotoxins

6 Developmental or Reproductive Toxins

Environmental Effects:

6 Honeybee Toxins

I feel bad aboutserving something so toxic and have contacted Food Not Bombs that in the future I want only organic produce or to at least contact me first. There was also a new woman that dropped off the produce from Stonestown Mall Farmer’s Market who talked to me about bringing us eggs. I had met her before and she asked me then if we wanted to give out eggs. I said no and she got a little upset because she knew people would really like them. She brought up the subject yesterday and again I said no and it was probably hard for her to understand why I wouldn’t want to give them out if people would love them. Besides a high value item like eggs causing riots among people who will all want them, I just want to stick with my principles as much as I can.

The good news was there was a lot of really fresh organic produce on the table, including a great deal of fresh kale and collards and zuchinni from the Free Farm.  The bread  table has become a regular snack  hangout with Mike’s hummus getting better each week. This week a brought a couple of jars of honey from last year from my backyard bees. It was really yummy too. A couple of highlights were a man who brought some surplus produce from his garden including some bouquets of herbs and flowers that he bunched up and tied.

Also, Kim showed up with more fabulous produce  and flowers from the Secret Garden:

At the end of the day  as we were leaving, one of my favorite friends Lina and her mom came by the park I hadn’t seen them in a while. Kids grow up so fast.

Friends at the end of the stand pose for a self-timer photo. The girl with the baskeball was just playing in the park and helped us clean up and scored some tomatoes  for her grandmother that were somehow left in a bag  undistributed.

Here’s a self-timer photo of our great cleanup crew in our kitchen. I love our community of friends and helpers and contantly feel grateful for everything. I forgot to mention that before we started handing out produce we formed a circle with volunteers and took time out to share our selves with each other and to be thankful.

Here is a short description of Root to Fruits that happened on Saturday by my friend Jonathan. Unfortuanately I was unable to attend.

I attended the 1st ever Roots to Fruits event at School of the Arts.  I arrived at 12pm to enjoy tasting the fruiture which cost $4 for an assortment of peaches, figs, plums, berries, and more.  I then got chocolate and vanilla  ice cream topped with strawberries.
Great demonstrations of sf permaculture, fruit tree pruning, planting fruit trees, cooking demos, and the keynote speaker Pam Pierce speaking about micro climates in San Francisco.  It was a FREE event and was very well attended.  I enjoyed getting broccoli painted on my face with the kids.
There were farm animals on site like goats and chickens for children to pet.

I left wanting more, looking forward to the fall event.

I could have titled this week’s blog with a bad pun like “the beet goes on”.  It is true though that it feels like we are on auto-pilot and each Sunday’s Free Farm Stand follows the next and the produce comes and goes. It is another summer and what is truly a miracle each week seems like the ordinary.   Boxes and boxes of fresh mostly organic vegetables collected from the local farmer’s markets.  This week  our free farm contributed one box of vegetables,  there was a box of locally harvested plums, and some really beautiful kale grown by one of our regular volunteers. I also harvested kale from the Esperanza Garden.  Later at the end of the day a friend brought by some surplus artichokes and fava beans that he grew in the outer Mission. We also had a lot of seedlings including some odd things like magenta lamb quarters and sunberry seedlings. Not only is the produce truly a gift, but we are blessed with so many helpful hands and sweet “customers”.

hecka local rules!

local plums

magenta lambs quarters

So in our lives we can be up to our knees in blessings and yet not recognize it, because our days become routine.  I personally have to take time out and step back and be thankful.

This Saturday there is an event that is all the buzz of the local food growing people and is attracts my interest (I will be at our farm that day with some guests): Roots to Fruits: Tasting our Shared Fruiture. It is on Saturday, July 23 · 10:00am – 4:00pm and is 555 Portola Drive at School of the Arts (SOTA) Enter via O’Shaughnessy Drive. Pam Pierce my favorite garden teacher  who often contributes produce to our stand will be speaking  about our microclimates here and there will be a fruit tasting (it costs $4) and other activities. Also Dr. John Preece, of the Wolfskill Germplasm Repository, Discusses ‘Why A Germ Bank for Fruit and Nut Crops are Important in Our Food System. More buzz heere!/event.php?eid=110183875738805

One thing that I can’t help commenting on is that the idea of sharing something is becoming synonymous with selling something. In reading something posted on the permaculture listserve recently about this event it said: “Got plums? Come and celebrate our inspiring web of community resiliency by selling what you grow. Growing it locally, producing it locally, sharing it locally. We will collectively lower our carbon footprint and offer a place where supply meets demand, by providing a new kind of marketplace for farmers and foodies.”

I believe sharing is sharing not selling. I would like to believe that sharing is gift giving. I also feel strongly that since the earth is a common treasury, fruit is a gift and should be shared with all. It just seems so backwards to encourage people to sell what they grow, as if capitalism is so groovy and that the system we got going right now is great, if only it could be friendlier and home grown. Also, I really hope I am not a foodie and that the Free Farm Stand is not a Foodies Paradise.

Here is a public event not related to anything doing with the Free Farm Stand, except that I met Josh a long while back when he came from Aprovecho to San Francisco: One Million Voices for Shane and Josh: International call-in blitz!! Monday, July 25 at 8:00am – July 29 at 5:00pm One Million Voices for Shane and Josh: International call-in blitz on the Iranian Interest Section in Washington D.C. from July 25th-29th. CALL EVERYDAY!  (202) 965-4990  Using Google voice is free if you get a number. More info here: http://twoyearsistoolong.w​