There really isn’t much to report about the Free Farm Stand, it keeps rolling along. I loved the arugala, ruby streaks mustard, and other baby greens mix that can from the Free Farm hothouse, it was fresh and tasty. We amazingly harvested 15.5 pounds. This mix grows like a lawn and you can cut it and then in a few weeks cut it again, it is very productive, especially in our unheated hoop house where it grows in the ground and loves the warmth. See the greens in the basket below and also some red rocoto peppers a neighbor grew. Also, Bernadette is holding up some very handsome red mustard greens also from the farm. Some type of Brassica on the left and the Portuguese cabbage on the right
There is good news perhaps on the horizon about us giving out samples of homemade jams and vegan spreads, a cottage food bill was introduced in the California legislature last month: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/06/california-cottage-food-bill_n_1324829.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=1838604,b=facebook. This article is all about making it easier for people to sell their less dangerous homemade food like jams or pickles, but it should apply to groups like our who also make homemade jam and can’t even give it away.
I mentioned in an earlier blog (A Lemon in Every Pot) an article I read in the chronicle about a new campaign to make San Francisco lemon-self sufficient. After sending out announcements about the meeting yesterday to help design a new park (and I mentioned the idea of a food forest), Isabel Wade wrote me about the project she is working on called JustOneTree (http://justonetree.org/). It is a really an exciting place to visit and I like the their statement on their homepage that their project is to “encourage San Franciscans to plant one fruit tree to demonstrate that even in the densest city in the United States we can move toward greater local food self-sufficiency.” Their first goal is for San Francisco to become lemon self-sufficient. From reading the San Francisco Foodshed Assessment of 2008 (http://www.sagecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/san-francisco-foodshed-assessment.pdf) they figured out that we need 461 tons of lemons a year for everyone in the city to have lemons and not need to buy them. They also figure one tree can make 200 lemons so we need 12,000 lemon trees in San Francisco. One can go to their site and register their lemon trees so there is a map of lemon trees in the city. This project I must admit is as crazy as our Free Farm Stand project and goal of creating a network of neighbors growing their own food and sharing it, but they are beautiful ideas and should be supported.
Another crazy idea that I was trying to support is planting an edible park or food forest in the Mission. Yesterday I attended a meeting hosted by DPW architects, Recreation and Park, and PODER at Marshall Elementary. There was also a woman from the Art Commission because every new park gets 2% of the construction costs going to art). There are so many cool urban agriculture projects happening in the country these days and I have been hoping that we can get something happening here that is outside the box. Unfortunately it seems I quickly learned that the current design is basically set in stone, based on the comments from previous public meetings. The drawing below is pretty much the way the park will be with some design tweaking allowed.
There will not be a food forest in the new park, it will have three areas: a community garden, a gathering area, and an exercise area. I pushed for all the landscaping to be edible and habitat for beneficial pollinators. Fortunately there were others in support of that idea, but I also learned that some people thought the lawn was too small while some of us were saying the lawn was too big (and that it shouldn’t be a lawn anyway but maybe a meadow). The discussion about the community garden was interesting. In the group I was in we all pushed for the idea of not having individual plots, but having a model like Alemany Farm (also on Recreation and Park land) where people garden or farm together and give away their produce. There was talk about forming a garden group that would run the garden made up of different groups in the Mission of something like that. Marvin Yee from the department said that Alemany Farm was an anomaly and I think Recreation and Park is still trying to figure out how to deal with that project and how to explain it. Our group was also advocating for not having boxes but letting the gardeners decide the bed location and plant directly in the ground (they are planning on removing the top two feet of soil and putting in new dirt on top for removing any potential toxins). I do not know how this will be decided and what the other groups comments were on the community garden.
Since the land sits on a creek and low spot at earlier meeting there was talk about having a water feature in the park, something interactive that kids could do like pump water to irrigate the park. Though there are restrictions on using the water to irrigate the community garden. So there were talks about that part of the design and what that would look like.
I was skeptical of need for playground equipment, but there are neighbors that wanted it for older kids and adults. So they had equipment there that people could try out and it was kind of like outdoor gym equipment to exercise on. I like the idea of people getting more exercise and think this kind of equipment was pretty nice. I also suggested that in the gathering area have the concrete stage be replaced with a large wooden deck or platform to do yoga on. I also thought there was a need for a tranquil area where people could sit quietly and be surrounded by nature.