Welcome to all the Free Farm Stand followers, supporters, friends and curious newcomers! My name is Claire Lagerwey and I am filling in on the blog today because every once in a blue moon, yes, even the infamous Tree needs a break, too!
Amidst all the rainy, October weather we’ve been having in the Bay Area recently, a beautiful, sunny afternoon pulled through for us at the park yesterday. Sunscreen and sun hats crawled out from tucked away places, didgeridoos bellowed their deep voices, babies admired pumpkins larger than themselves and Farm Stand devotees lounged into their afternoons with books and friends!
Yesterday seemed to be the calmest and smoothest day since the new ticket system began. The participants have been more than wonderful in co-participating in all of the new changes going on at the Free Farm Stand. Because of constructive feedback from everyone involved, we have slowly been improving upon our systems. We could not ask for better support and input from the community! For 3 weeks now, we have been handing out tickets starting at 12:00 pm and giving out food beginning at 1:00pm. This week we gave projected time slots that correlated with the number on the tickets so that people could better gauge when their turn would be.
The ticket system is designed to do a few things. First it gives people more flexibility with their Sunday afternoons. Once receiving a ticket, people can choose to stay in the park or leave and then return during their time slot. One Farm Stand go-er said to me enthusiastically yesterday, “I love this new system, I got a ticket, went for a run and then came back for my vegetables.” The second reason for the ticket system is to help keep the walkways (ramp and entrance) clear and to allow space for other park users to recreate in the grass area as desired. It was clear yesterday, that the park was being used as a multi-functional space as children played soccer freely in the grass while customers gathered their produce in line; a beautiful cohabitation, indeed!
There was a hearty abundance of apples picked by Produce to the People. Among other treats were the vibrantly colored Anaheim Peppers from Steve’s connection in Sebastopol, CA. There was an eventful pumpkin cutting that grasped the attention of toddlers and adults alike as it burst open and we all imagined the yummy fall treats that will surly come from its abundance. Thank you to everyone who brought backyard produce, helpful hands and most importantly their big smiles! So much appreciation and gratitude to you all!
Almost daily it seems that we are learning new information on the state of the Free Farm Stand. The latest news is that we are allowed to stay in the park for the next 6 months without a health permit. This limits us, however, to only giving out produce and bread. We have been informed that bread cannot be cut and there can be no sharing of j ams, honey, humus, or other prepared foods.
We believe that giving out these prepared items at the stand is integral in the sharing, learning, teaching and communing with our neighbors. We are currently looking for a permitted kitchen that might be able to partner with us. We are also in contact with Philip from Sustainable Food Law to help us research health codes and permits. We continue to be perplexed that we are living in time when it is seemingly easier to sell unhealthy, fast food for a profit than it is to simply give local, organic food away for free.
Lastly, a big shout out to all the volunteers who have been holding down the fort, no matter the changes that are going on externally.
Much and much,