#Occupy Free Farm Stand

Though I haven’t been active in the Occupy Wall Street SF I am inspired. I think there is a tie in with the Free Farm Stand and the Free Farm.  Naomi Klein expressed my feelings so articulately in a recent interview  she gave when attending Occupy Wall St in New York (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/10/07-0):  “ Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away…The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy… This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I’m not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that’s important. I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.” Another interesting interview with her in San Francisco is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjNOtGWtM_4. “It is time to build the radical democracy that we are looking for. Its more than a list of demands.”  Here is another inspiring speech from someone I haven’t heard of until now. From Slavoj Zizek (http://roarmag.org/2011/10/zizek-at-wall-street-protest-dont-fall-in-love-with-yourself/): “But remember, carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after, when we will have to return to normal lives. Will there be any changes then? I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like “Oh. We were young and it was beautiful.” Remember that our basic message is “We are allowed to think about alternatives.” I also attended a workshop in saving seed and I heard the same message. That we can fight Monsanto, but we should also have in place an alternative source of seed not owned by the mega corporations. So we have to learn to save our own seed and to share that seed with fellow gardeners.

As my friend Pancho says we have to engage in protest but we also have to create the social programs that are the alternatives to the system. I love it when I hear people actually talking about imagining the end of capitalism, but what do we want to replace it with? Obviously we are not proposing an alternative model based on Marxist-Lenism or any other ism. Naomi Klein says that we don’t really know  how to go about changing this system that we have now and I would agree. We are experimenting and trying things out. The Free Farm Stand and the Free Farm are attempts to see how much food we can grow in the city and to build a network of people growing and sharing food as a way we can all become more food secure. The recent attempt by the Recreation and Parks Dept. to move us out of the park and the spontaneous support by neighbors shows the power of community.  It is a beautiful thing that we need to continue building. Just like the community building that is going on at the occupation, we need to practice and learn to live with each other in intentional communities and to work on common projects together. The temptation to flirt with friendly capitalism I think is a mistake, whether it is slow money, pay it forward or backwards, barter, time bank currency, or whatever. We need to be generous and giving karma yogis and love all, serve all, feed all. We need to get away from linear exchange and understand that the universe provides. That the earth is a common treasury for all to share.

Here is an article updating our recent dealings with Recreation and Parks Dept.: The Free Farm Stand will Stand.

The article is not quite accurate as I am still working with the Parks Department to get the Special Event permit they want me to have to run the Stand.  I am not needing a Health Permit so won’t get one (I sent an email to Parks Dept. with an email from the Health Dept. saying I don’t need a permit to give out produce and day old bread) . The latest email from Dana Ketcham is pretty crazy:

Hi Tree
I need a letter from the DPH addressed to us. I need a clear definition of produce and what “day old bread” means.

I really think that Dana wants people to come get food and then take it with them and get out of the park as quickly as possible. The idea of people hanging out and encouraging them to interact with their neighbors and each other is something she doesn’t seem to get.

It is a bit ironic that we are being hassled by the Parks Dept. this time of year when we move into fall season when the Stand slows down in terms of how much produce we collect and are harvesting ourselves from various gardens. And the amount of bread we get on Saturday night from Acme is way down too. There was a bumper crop of sunchokes from Esperanza Garden and Treat Commons. I love growing this vegetable and I especially enjoy eating them, cooking them my favorite way: washed, pour a small amount of olive oil on them, bake them in an oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

We also hada lot of greens from the Free Farm and some fruit from Stanford Glean, including quince and pineapple guava. We had some local apples, including some apples I brought back from my trip to Quincy in the Sierra Mountains above Tahoe. There are so many apples trees in that town and as far as I could tell most of the trees I saw were not being picked. I literally saw apples that had fallen, collecting in the sidewalks and gutters. I heard the bears were coming in town to eat them. I met one woman who I talked with who seemed a bit embarrassed by the situation and said that they were organizing a “Juice it or Lose It” event  to encourage people to bring in their apples to juice them.

One of the highlights of the Stand was that we moved the seedling table into the garden and invited people to come in while they were waiting for their number to be called. I think it worked better having people come into the garden and in general things ran a lot smoother.We had a lot of seedlings to give away and will have more next week too and they were very popular. Also Claire, my new house guest assistant is going to spend time on Sundays at the Stand working in the garden. This week Will showed up to help her and later in the day a couple of kids that Claire knew from Marshall Elementary showed up and there was a beautiful scene with the kids planting some of the kale seedlings.

This has nothing to do with the Stand but here is a photo of an artichoke I planted in front of my house. May a thousand artickokes bloom on sidewalk gardens!



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