I was reading on a website called Practical Permaculture http://www.practicalpermaculture.com/about.htm, that had this great quote about what permaculture is about:” The idea is to be able to look out your backdoor and see your friends gathering food.” I would expand this idea and say that this revolution is about looing out our back or front doors and seeing  friends growing, harvesting, and sharing surplus produce at a neighborhood Free Farm Stand.
Being summer we seem to be at a peak of produce. I brought supposedly 186lbs of vegetables (greens and squash) from the Free Farm this week (I actually wasn’t at the farm this Saturday and that is the amount of food I was told that  was harvested this week, and also I am not sure how much was given away at the farm stand there before it was shipped across town to me). A neighbor dropped off 12 pounds of lemons and my friend Antonio brought a sample of Portuguese cabbage that he grew (Brassica oleracea Tronchuda Portuguesa or couve tronchuda). Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of these leaves, but they were really huge  and looked like collards and Antonio said they perennialize like tree collards (though they are started by seed).
Mike’s rhubarb something jam
Mike’s pickled green beans
long line all day
Cristina is back!!!
One of the common things I often write about on this blog is that there is a need for more people to be gardening. This reoccurring thought has bubbled up again in my mind as I just found out that the Esperanza garden needs help (all the gardeners I think are gone) and I am not sure what is happening with the Secret Garden. I even visited the Permaculture Garden at 18th and Rhode Island last week and that garden needs attention.  Not to mention Treat Commons  community garden where I am coordinator could use more gardening love.
All these gardens used to grow food for the Free Farm Stand (and still do in small amounts) and they all are such lovely gardens each with their own unique feeling. With all the talk and trendiness of eating local and the focus on urban agriculture, it is still hard to find people to help take care of a garden on a regular basis.  Even our Free Farm could use more help in terms of having experienced people that can lead others in tasks.  The thing is a lot of people come and volunteer, but we seem to lack are people who can help put those volunteers to work or people that can help manage a garden. I understand the challenge since most people are working and trying to pay their rent which is high in San Francisco.  If people lived together and shared income that would help free people up.
There are only so many models out there for us to choose from. My dear friends at Little City Gardens  whom I love a lot (their blog is wonderful to read and the photos so beautiful: http://www.littlecitygardens.com/). It is ironic that they are the most vocal voices right now in San Francisco exploring the issue of how to make healthy food accessible to poor people.  They have adopted a friendly capitalist model and have a sliding scale CSA and argue that until our government stops subsidizing the elite corporations that people will have to pay more for healthy produce because it can’t be cheap. I agree with them on that point, but I continue to suggest that we abandon the model of buy and sell and the inherent problems it brings into our culture. Instead we can stick our necks out and adopt the free “economy” based on gift giving, generosity, and trust.  Just like us vegans, us people into free will always be a small minority. But there is land to cultivate now and we only will live in our present form a short while, so we have a chance to float on faith and plant the seeds.
Here is an event coming up next Sunday at our Free Farm:
SF CARE Kick Off Picnic And Sock Drive Is Coming Soon!
SF CARE is off to a great start and we’d love to have you come celebrate with us on August 21st from noon to three at the Free Farm at Eddy and Gough. We are dreaming big. We have all our collective experience and passion, we have good programs currently in place, and we’ve got the vision and the enthusiasm to move forward.  All we need now is you.   Come join us for our kick off picnic and sock drive starting at noon on August 21st at the Free Farm on Eddy and Gough. Bring some white athletic socks, enjoy a delicious lunch, and learn more about this great new venture.The picnic is free, but it will help us to have enough food if you RSVP here or to [email protected].
We’re looking forward to seeing you there!The Rev. Valerie McEntee The Rev. Daniel SolbergThe Rev. Megan RoherThe Rev. Lyle J. Beckman
By the way the write up of the Free Farm this week was awesome, mostly some fine photos, at  thefreefarm.org.
On Saturday I skipped the workday at the farm and I went to a beautiful ceremony at St Boniface Church for my friend Richard Purcell. One of the highlights of the event was meeting Joe a Native American healer who knew Richard. He is a member of the Tohono O’odham (Desert People) tribe in the Sonoran desert in southern  Arizona where Richard lived for 20 years.  He sang the most beautiful song about light that brought the event into the mystic. At the reception I met this beautiful man and in in his precense I felt a strong feeling of lightness/softness that I have rarely encountered in a person before.
There is also now an obituary about Peter Berg here in the Chronicle:  http://bit.ly/qTB9AM. Also there is this website http://planet-drum.net/2011/08/11/peter-berg/ Rembering Peter Berg. On this website I found this website where I stole my title: http://jaywbabcock.blogspot.com/2011/08/peter-berg-1937-2011.html. There is a great video posted there about the 1% Free poster the diggers put out.
One of the comments made by Ramon Sender is so right on and applies to both my friends: ” As the law of conservation of energy teaches us, nothing is ever lost, but just transformed. Still we yearn for the presence of the beloved as he/she manifested in our lives, although knowing all the time it was just a momentary shell enclosing the sun for an instant.”

I returned to the Free Farm Stand this week andthough I enjoy getting away I also enjoy the scene we have going. It was one of the loveliest Stands in a while, with our Hecka Local table glowing with a beautiful display of different summer squashes, handsome runner beans and bush beans, and such tasty looking greens. The produce came from a few gardens nearby and our free farm near city hall and the Western Addition. The real high for me were the flowers on the table, including roses from Mike’s garden and small bouquets brought by our friends Pam and David (they also brought a nice selection of edibles). I love giving out flowers. There are a lot growing in the gardens I work in and I never seem to get it together to pick them and make bouquets, but when we have them they make people smile. Actually in all fairness the vegetables make people smile too.
The summer abundance has inspired a county fair like affair at the bread table, with every week different people besides Mike bringing in samples of their pickles and jams. This week there were two rhubarb jams with rhubarb and fruit from the following week…one with ginger and the other with peaches. Also there were homemade pickles.
Our clean-up crew
While I was gone someone sent me an email saying that the Free Farm Stand was a winner of the Bay Guardian Best of the Bay 2011 award… best Neighborhood Nom Nom: http://www.sfbg.com/specials/best-bay-2011-editors-picks-city-living.  What they wrote is a bit exaggerated and you will have to look up the word Nom Nom to try to figure out what we are supposed to be, but I am happy that we continue to inspire.  I also hope that the inspiration leads to action and that more people help us grow food to share with those in need. I am also looking for at least one reliable volunteer that can drive and help pick up produce for the stand on Saturday afternoons. I am trying to step back a little from the stand  and pass the baton to another generation doers.
Talking about inspiration, two friends of mine died just recently that were big inspirations in my life. One was Peter Berg who founded Planet Drum and among other things helped form the Diggers in the sixties. I can’t really put it in words how much the diggers inspired me and lead me to the work I am doing today.  Peter and Judy’s (his life-partner) work has been such a gift to us all and I feel so grateful for all they have done. Here is an article in the Chronicle from 2007 with  Peter and Judy:http://articles.sfgate.com/2007-05-20/news/17246325_1_diggers-guerrilla-theater-peter-berg. Or one can go to these websites to get further inspiration: http://www.diggers.org/top_entry.htm or http://www.planetdrum.org/ Finally, here is a sweet write up about Peter: http://environmentalheadlines.com/ct/2011/08/03/obituary-peter-berg-oct-1-1937-july-28-2011/.
Last week Richard Purcell, the Franciscan priest/friar whom I had been helping take care for three years died from ALS. I was really happy that he was at last liberated from this terrible disease which had immobilized him and required 24 hour care the last year of his life.  He was a man devoted to service and compassionate care for the sick and homeless. I remember feeling so appreciative that he took he took in my friend Honza who was homeless and dying of Aids a number of years ago.  Richard was a person who was so full of life and that is why I think it took him longer than usual to die from ALS. He also taught me people don’t die, that it is just a matter of transition and transformation. Here is an obituary from the Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/07/MNPURCELLR080740.DTL. 

Richard was put in a cardboard coffin that he had painted with his designs and catchy slogans.
Here is something I wrote while I was away last week:
I sat in a beautiful alpine meadow in silence
everything fell away
I am a flower
in this meadow
one of the millions here that make up a palette of colors
my story seems so insignificant
as are words
it is true there are sounds and communication in the air
busyness everywhere
bumble bees that look different than the ones in California
and flies don’t ever seem still
I can’t barely even look at them
as they move from flower to flower
a constant hum of activity in the air
growing and dying
the frost and snow has just left but will return soon
here the growth cycle is furious and hurried
like the flying bees
as the sun rays beat down hot for a brief while
under the soil is another story
so much life going down as well
the meadow is a complete and incomplete
universe or cosmos
I am aware of being just a speck of life
there is a deep mystery is all that I can call it
in this meadow cosmos
I am also sure that all life understands this mystery
I hear the the columbine flower, the flower of these Rockies,
ask the big questions
like, “say what is this all about?”
so much beauty is overwhelming
again life and death go on
or this question the flowers whisper
“what is my purpose for being?”
every rock and every life form
feels the connections
to this mystery
everything feels a loneliness
and a joy
reading Rilke yesterday
he wrote about returning from a journey
going from the country back to the city
into the chaos and the hammering noise
he longed to remember the mountains and the sky
I want to remember
the meadow
and how the city is the meadow
that I am sitting in now