Numbers and Bummers

Yesterday it was a very chaotic day as we began giving out numbers to people so they wouldn’t have to wait in a long line and could instead hang out in the park, sit on the grass, or take off for a while. At the end of the day we gave out 216 numbers and it took from 1 until about 3pm or so. It was a very hot day and the park has few trees to sit under to get out of the sun, so a number of people waited in line because there was shade there in the spot where people used to line up.  I heard from a number of people that people liked this new system better and it seemed to make things go smoother. I think things should get better as we work the kinks out of the way we hand out and call numbers.

We also announced through a flier that Park and Recreation wants us to move our program out of the park by October 15, 2011. See the flier at below (we had this flier in Spanish and English but need a Chinese translator to really communicate with everyone):

There are a number of factors that may be contributing to this situation and why that Park and Rec is focusing on us now after three years of happily sharing food  in the park. One is that we have grown in size and that does have an impact on the park. I noticed yesterday that handing out the numbers basically got rid of the long line down the street, but still people had to wait a long time to get produce and most of those people hung out on the grass. I would like to have a canopy for people to sit under, but supposedly canopies are considered a structure and that is a no no in a park I am told. Also, I was told that both Dolores Park and Mission Playground on 19th st. are under renovation and both those have kid playgrounds that are under construction and closed at the moment. That might mean more parents coming to our park and maybe some disgruntled parent complained when they saw what we were doing.

I have various emotions about this situation. I think it would be sad to stop doing the Free Farm Stand in this park.  At the same time I have to be honest that it is a lot of work to make the stand happen each week and I haven’t been able to find the consistent help behind the scenes that is needed to bring the stand to the park every week…that includes picking up the produce, sorting it and packaging it so it is easier to move, dealing with the surplus soft fruit and vegetable,’and cleaning up afterwards, including putting things away at my home, and doing this every weekend. So sometimes I get tired and feel like I need more help. In the meantime I am doing some discernment and also looking at all the options, and hopefully will talk to Dana Ketcham in the permit office when she returns.  I really believe that change is part of living and that sometimes  unexpected good comes out of difficult bummers.

One highlight of my week was going to the heirloom expo in Santa Rosa. It was an overwhelming experience seeing all the diversity in vegetables and animals that were on display there. Though it did make me feel a little uneasy seeing all the beautiful chickens and turkeys, cows, and sheep, in small pens  being stared at by people like myself like they were in a zoo. I doubt the pumpkins and squash didn’t mind showing off their stuff.  I especially liked the California Rare Fruit Growers display of 60 types of apples and I don’t know how many kinds of pears were there, each with their own label and the pears with some history typed up. The show really made me come away thinking that God/Goddess or life force is such a crazy creative energy with an infinite pallet  to paint with. Through my friend Justin I met his friend Aaron who among other things saves seeds and breeds vegetables. His display of his giant beets and carrots was really fantastic and trippy, and Aaron said they all are quite edible and not woody or tough. I also came away being inspired to grow less hybrid vegetables and grow more open-pollinated plants that one can save seed for (you can’t save seed for hybrids).

I met a woman who was running the Napa County Master Gardenr’s booth that has a display of the most beautiful heirloom squash and sh offered to give them to me for our Free Food Stand after the show was over. So I took home quite a display of winter squash and I brought two  for the Stand yesterday. It took some time to cut them open, but they look  quite yummy inside.

A friend who lives nearby on Treat Ave, came by with 98 pounds of grapefruit from his backyard tree. We had a huge amount of produce as usual including a giant harvest of green beans from the Free Farm, 26 pounds. Of course, we also got hundreds of pounds of green beans left over from the farmer’s market.

The Free Farm Stand is more than  sharing food. A volunteer has been showing up regularly painting the face of kids who seem to really have fun

how local can we get?grapefruits from a block away

I don’t know the variety name of this heirloom pumpkin…I think it is  something like Rouge  Vif d’Etampes

Marina di Chiooga

the long wait to get food…at least people could sit on the lawn and wait, though at least two people left because of the wait

Mike’s hummus and what goes into it

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