We celebrated Earth Day at the Free Farm Stand quietly sharing mostly greens from our Free Farm (and some rhubarb), oranges from Stanford Glean, and beautiful left over produce from other farmers. We gave out lots more seedlings of summer vegetables and the tomato starts were the most popular. When I visited the Midwest one year I noticed a lot of suburban homes had a patch of one or two tomatoes growing in the backyard or to the side of the house (though of course the neat lawn was the predominant landscaping). Maybe we are all internally wired to like to grow a little something and the love apple is the fruit/vegetable we love the most it would almost seem. Yesterday a friend told me about the Paleo diet like in paleolithic or cave man.   The idea being that we humans today are genetically adapted to eating like our ancient ancestors who didn’t do agriculture but hunted and gathered.  So my friend who is trying this diet out doesn’t eat grains (nor beans, dairy, salt, sugar, processed oils) and  instead consumes grass fed meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, fruits, and I think roots. I actually don’t know how far he goes with this diet, but I contend that we do have a connection to the earth and soil that is part of our DNA. That it is not just the life connection we have with farming and growing food (as well as harvesting), but that there is a spiritual connection too. So I could see it yesterday how faces lit up when they saw a tomato seedling and they felt a desire to take home a plant and grow one and be part of the miracle of growing some of their own food.  At my home we have been slowly removing a large aloe bush from one location in our backyard and plan to start it growing in another spot so we can grow an avocado tree. We brought boxes of aloe vera plants which were also very popular among our shoppers…not only for using medicinally but to plant.

seedlings galore

 Lolita  brought lemon balm from her garden

produce from Secret Garden

cool way to transport stuff from the Free Farm Stand

new avocado tree planted in park next to Stand (more on that in later posts)

There are Earth Day celebrations and then there are Earth Day revolutions. Yesterday in the East Bay Farmers marched and then took over a 10 acre piece of land in Albany owned by the University of California. Here is the story:


 

URGENT. OCCUPY THE FARM NEEDS HELP PLANTING AND PROTECTING THE NEWLY
OCCUPIED GILL TRACT!
More than an acre has already been planted and over 200 people are working
hard to plant the rest of the tract. The Gill Tract is a highly contested
agriculture space owned by University of California Capital Projects on
the border of Albany and Berkeley. Parts of the space are in the process
of being zoned for commercial use, and sold to Whole Foods. Please come
by and help and bring plants, trowels, shovels, and irrigation supplies.
Police have indicated that the Gill Tract encampment will be contested
after 10pm tonight. Folk plan to stay the night and protect the space
from police and hungry deer. Please forward on the friends and come down
immediately!
The Gill Tract is on the corner of Marin and San Pablo in South Albany.
AC Transit 72 Bus goes to the tract and North Berkeley BART is a few
blocks southeast on Sacramento.
*Police Raid is Imminent*
 April 22, 2012
Occupy the Farm Activists Reclaim Prime Urban Agricultural Land in SF Bay
Area
Contact: [email protected]
Gopal – (510) 847-3592
(Albany, Calif.), April 22, 2012 – Occupy the Farm, a coalition of local
residents, farmers, students, researchers, and activists are planting over
15,000 seedlings at the Gill Tract, the last remaining 10 acres of Class I
agricultural soil in the urbanized East Bay area. The Gill Tract is public
land administered by the University of California, which plans to sell it
to private developers.
For decades the UC has thwarted attempts by community members to transform
the site for urban sustainable agriculture and hands-on education. With
deliberate disregard for public interest, the University administrators
plan to pave over this prime agricultural soil for commercial retail space,
a Whole Foods, and a parking lot…
“Every piece of uncontaminated urban land needs to be farmed if we are to
reclaim control over how food is grown, where it comes from, and who it
goes to,” says Anya Kamenskaya, UC Berkeley alum and educator of urban
agriculture. “We can farm underutilized spaces such as these to create
alternatives to the corporate control of our food system.”
UC Berkeley has decided to privatize this unique public asset for
commercial retail space, and, ironically, a high-end grocery store. This is
only the latest in a string of privatization schemes. Over the last several
decades, the university has increasingly shifted use of the Gill Tract away
from sustainable agriculture and towards biotechnology with funding from
corporations such as Novartis and BP.
Frustrated that traditional dialogue has fallen on deaf ears, many of these
same local residents, students, and professors have united as Occupy the
Farm to Take Back the Gill Tract. This group is working to empower
communities to control their own resilient food systems for a stable and
just future – a concept and practice known as food sovereignty.
Occupy the Farm is in solidarity with Via Campesina and the Movimiento Sin
Tierra (Landless Workers Movement).
The Gill Tract is located at the Berkeley-Albany border, at the
intersection of San Pablo Ave and Marin Ave.
• Join us: Come dressed to work! We need people to help till the soil,
plant seedlings, teach workshops, and more.

Here are three articles from some local news sources with photos, including a photo with two brothers who have worked at the Free Farm digging the vacant land like my heroes the Diggers of 1649. An email just in from one of our core Free Farmers who was there with others in the Free Farm Family…”The land plot is huge, with wooded areas and at least one turkey living there.” Here is a picture he took

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/04/22/18711864.php

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_20456349/protesters-occupy-berkeley-owned-farm-tract-albany

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/23/BAM71O7HR6.DTL

What can I say this is so beautiful and right on!

 

 


Our lovely Cristina dropped by today announcing the arrival of Florida oranges for the Free Farm Stand. Of course I knew what she was talking about since yesterday she came by my house to grab some boxes and somehow manage to ride her bike with them to Florida Street where she was going to pick some oranges from a tree that was loaded.

This to me is what the Free Farm Stand is all about…neighbors growing food and sharing their surplus with others in need.  Later in the day we got more oranges left over from the farmer’s market (it is the season), but the “Florida” oranges got me much more excited…and they were sweet and delicious and it blows away the idea that you can’t grow oranges in San Francisco. Having a beautiful friend and angel climb the tree and pick them made the bounty even more special and wonderful, and I wonder how many people realized what a gift they were.

some of the many seedlings we gave away…they were very popular

The other thing about the Free Farm Stand is that we are about is getting neighbors together and building community. I had great pleasure in planting a blueberry bush with a neighborhood young farmer in our up and coming community orchard.  How lucky will he be when he can come back to the park maybe in two years and pick some blueberries and eat them fresh from the orchard.

We are looking for small jars baby food size or a little larger to put honey in from our farm to give away. Please bring any ones you have laying around to the Stand. I am also looking for someone with a pick-up truck that would like to help us get manure for our farm.

I am usually at the Stand every Sunday so I miss a lot of great events happening around town or across the bay. Earth Day is coming up Aprill 22 . Alemany Farm whom we have been growing seedlings with at the Free Farm, is having their annual Earth Day Celebration  (http://www.alemanyfarm.org/spring-planting-continues-earth-day-celebration-apr-22/). The festivities will begin around 10:30 AM and will go until sunset. Our blog at http://thefreefarm.org/ has a nice write up about a recent tour of Alemany.

Also in the East Bay the farmers are marching:

On April 22nd, Bay area farmers, community gardeners, and families

will gather for a day of education and action that highlights our

relationship to the Earth, the land, and the food we grow from it.

This year, we will march for “Food sovereignty”, the right of

communities to their own healthy, local, sustainably grown food.

Our demand for food sovereignty is an acknowledgement that our plate

and our planet are more often controlled by international markets and

corporate profits than what’s best for our collective health. We

invite you to march in solidarity with the farmers and gardeners who

grow food for our community, and for your own right to nutritious

food, seed, and soil.

Activist Guest Speakers * Children’s Activities * Music * Farmer’s

Bloc: tractors, animals, overalls, oh yeah!

These activists are the Diggers of our times! From the song  the World Turned Upside Down (Diggers) by Leon Rosselson:

We come in peace, they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste land grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it can be
A common treasury for all.

The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain…