I took a break last week and alas there was no write up of what went down. This week I was there for all the glory. The weekend started out with a bang at the Free Farm where I heard the count was forty volunteers. Among those, my friends from Casa de Paz from Oakland plus some of their sparkling visitors showed up and quite a lot of work got done. Read Pancho’s account below of the Free Farm workday and also his belated write-up of last week’s Free Farm Stand. There is also a rather long write-up with fabulous photos at the Free Farm website here.
That night the Casa de Paz crew and visitors (five adults and one baby) spent the night at our place so they could help out in the morning loading the van and setting up and running the stand. The energy was pretty high and though we were a little crowded for my small abode and I enjoyed the community spirit. I have already started trying to manifest a larger place in the Mission to start a home focused on service.
Recently I have been inspired by a Jewish group in Berkeley called Urban Adamah. A while back a few of the people involved with that group came by and visited us at our farm. They have a three month residential program for young adults that includes a 1 acre organic farm, social justice work, and living and learning together. I love their curriculum which is Service of the Field, Service to the Community, Service of the Heart, and Study. I think now is the time to launch something like that here and just by putting the word out now I hope is the first step towards making this happen. If Eden is our divine home including it’s lush garden or farm with buy selfless worker bees, we need Eden now.
When people tell me they want to volunteer at the Free Farm Stand there is always work to do there, especially during the summer when more food comes in. For example, early Saturday morning I actually drove down to the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building to visit Green Gulch Farm who has a stand there. Sarah who has been a regular volunteer at our farm is working there during the summer and she and some other students gleaned five boxes of greens from their fields before they were turned under. It was a beautiful harvest, but the baby lettuces needed to gone through and cleaned up making it easier to give away. Besides the work at the stand on Sunday there is a lot of work beforehand that I hope I can find and teach others to do like driving to Martins to pick up the produce and unload it.
The Sunday Stand was a blast as usual with a lot of food and a lot of people helping and getting food. Our hummus/pickle/jam guy Mike was away so we had to get by with a small jar of jam left over from last year’s bounty of fruit. It is not the same without him. Besides a small amount of Free Farm Produce, Kim brought a beautiful display of vegetables from the Secret Garden. We also had some plums picked by Produce to the People and some more collard green starts grown at the Free Farm .
beautiful kids eating beautiful strawberries
beautiful Secret Garden produce with Kim
Below is the post by Pancho (with some editing from me, the whole version can be found here):
Belovedhood: Feed all, serve all, love all
We are not growing fruits and veggies. We are facilitating the growth of soil and community. The food is a byproduct. We most give back to Mother Earth and enjoy, in the process, the co-creation of the Beloved-hood.
This is the revelation I got when I met hermano Tree. From my perspective, this is Gandhi’s constructive program of the 21st century at its best. For the last few years, I’ve been close to him to learn how to facilitate this growth. Now some of us, at Casa de Paz, have been volunteering full days by his side. I have felt very inspired to anchor the Free Farm Stand the first Sunday of the month. The downside, as you can tell, is that I’m a slow writer and the updates of June 5th and July 2nd are coming only until now. But hey! you can talk about the (r)evolution or live the (r)evolution [and write a little bit about it ;-)].
The Free Farm Stand is definitively a great experiment in the joy of serving our diverse families in the Earth Community. We were thrilled to see that now there are entire families from the Mission who are coming to the Stand. Families from the part of the Planet we call China, Mexico, Guatemala, Yemen, India; people who speak Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi, English; and lots of children, plenty of children. It is a wonderful experience to foster this intercultural interaction and get nourished by their smiles and laughter. Some of our fliers are now in Spanish and Chinese.
Last Sunday (July 3rd), the stand was overwhelmed by the abundance of food provided by additional sources of food donations. Plums, peaches, apricots, squashes, aloe plants, and greens flooded the stand’s table’s, to the extent that we were hardly able to give it all away over the three hour period (1:00pm-3:00pm) that the stand operates.
So too is the Free Farm an experiment.
As Britney and I write this piece from the Free Farm, there are people: harvesting for the free farm stand; building a terrace; beautifying the labyrinth; watering the beds and isolated pots; preparing the table for the vegan lunch at noon; planting seeds in the greenhouse; washing the produce for the 1pm farm stand; guiding visitors to show some of the magic of the farm; carrying wheelbarrows –or taking a nap in one of them– full of mulch to nourish the paths; turning the compost; taking pictures for the blog and writing a post to celebrate all of this work and the work that can’t be described with metrics.
The diversity of the people volunteering honors and matches the rich diversity of life in the farm. On the one hand, the farm is filled with people of brown, black, white skin; a 1 yearold whose mom joined the yoga and meditation sessions in the morning; young people from both Stanford and UC Berkeley; teens from all backgrounds sharing their wisdom; enthusiastic elders from the neighborhood; people without houses and without money giving away all they have: their time, love and energy; Christians, a Buddhist monk, secular people, anarchists, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans all united in this church without walls. With this diversity, we come together, work together, learn together, and share. On the other hand, the farm is inhabited by a red tail hawk who has made the farm her source of mice and rats; by ravens, hummingbirds, pigeons, worms, snails, ants; bees that live in hives and bees that live buried in the soil, who knows what fascinating interactions are happening beneath the surface of the beds. We learn from this animal world too, just as we learn from the diverse human worldviews that the farm draws together.
Many of us enjoy our volunteer work at the Free Farm because we believe that healthy, local food is the foundation of social justice. While 93 percent of the varieties of crops have gone extinct in the part of the Planet we call the U.S. –and all over the World– city kids, like many of us, are learning how to facilitate the growth of food and how to let crops go to seed. The concepts of both regeneration (not sustainability) and community are being shared and practiced. We are planting seeds of generosity and harvesting kindness to and from the community.
With this growth of soil and community, local neighbors are getting more and more involved. As these neighbors volunteer at the farm and receive its produce, a circle of giving and receiving is emerging. In this gift economy, we are able to provide for one another and cultivate compassion and care. As we shared before, the effects of the farm do not end within the Western Addition neighborhood here in San Francisco. They carry over to the Mission, where the surplus food produced by the stand is given away as an act of unconditional love. We don’t believe that in a pollution-violence based economy only people with financial resources can consume healthy local organic food. We believe and practice that everybody can and must be nourished with healthy local food and healthy entertainment. We are doing our best to treat each other as family. And our family is widening, indeed. There is a palpable love and acknowledgement to take care of our elders and our children.
Through the act of freely giving away healthy and local produce, unjust food systems–like the one in this part of the Planet, where kale is often not affordable for many, yet unhealthy hot dogs cost less than a dollar–are challenged and a community is built. It is the love and dedication of volunteers that makes this possible. And it is this same love and dedication which has an infectious tendency on others, keeping the farm and the stand energized and thriving.
In other words: feed all, serve all, love all.
These were our two seeds as Free Farmers, ;-)
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.
Britney, Pancho and Adelaja.
Here is a link for a movie that is being worked on called Growing Cities. These young men came out and filmed us at the Free Farm and the Free farm Stand (at the end of the day) and some of the other farms they have visited across the United States seem pretty interesting.