Good Produce Good News

Yesterday was a celebration day and the Free Farm Stand was surrounded by joy and abundant good cheer. Besides there being a carnival parade and festivities one block over from the Stand, it was Pentecost.  These religious holidays  need translation, and to me any day is holy that celebrates the divine and wondrous  spirit …we need not be afraid of religions and their holidays. They are all recycled festivals and celebrations giving thanks and appreciation.  I am thinking of a song by Bob Marley: “”Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.”
“Let’s get together and feel all right.”

I read that in the Eastern Orthodox Church Pentecost is a feast day similar to the Jewish holiday Shavuot  (which happens fifty days after Passover) and is also associated with a harvest festival. So clergy and congregants carry flowers and green branches and often churches are decorated with green. By coincidence, we brought a ton of flowers to the Free Farm Stand yesterday and two volunteers spent the day making bouquets and handing them out.  I love giving out flowers which make everyone both boys and girls smile.

free plants & seedlings and flowers what a combo!

Another celebration that is related to Pentecost and Shavuot is the First Fruits offering. The first harvest is offered to the church or temple, similar to the Hindus first offering of prasād or a gift to a diety. We harvested the first fruits from our zucchini plants and brought some to the Stand and that felt really special. Also, the first stone fruits of the season have starting coming in and the abundance in our “second shift” is truly amazing. As much as I love giving away flowers, I love even more sharing  fresh fruit. I also love growing fruit trees and picking fresh fruit . How closer to heaven can one get with that experience?

It is especially joyful to get to know one’s neighbors and to be blessed with the chance to help someone out that you know  when you can. Yesterday a neighbor I have known for over 15 years came by the stand for the first time. His daughter with three children had been coming to the stand off and on for a while and I hadn’t seen her in while. I asked about her and he said that is why he was there, because she just had another baby and he was picking up produce for her.

Kim with goodies from the Secret Garden

Other things going on:

In the world of politics, an area that I try to keep out of as much as possible, Supervisor David Chiu introduced legislation to create an urban agriculture program in the city:

“The program proposed in the legislation will coordinate efforts among agencies on specific, measurable targets with timelines; increase accountability by placing responsibility for coordination and reaching the goals with a specific person and agency; and begin a strategic planning process and evaluation that will help make better use of existing city resources that support city gardeners and farmers. “

You can read about the legislation here  (download the actual ordinance) and see how to send a letter to the board of supervisors to support  this legislation:

A guy came by our farm the other day who was visiting urban farms and engaged me in a conversation about this legislation. He wants to advocate for an “independent Office of Urban Agriculture” and thinks there is a need for “one full time staff person and four half-time people fully dedicated to urban agriculture” that get out of the office and go to the urban farms and gardens. I liked his ideas and we both want to see funds going to really supporting urban farmers and gardeners and helping them accesses the resources they need. For example, in the ordinance one of the goals  is

“(6)  To open garden resource centers in neighborhoods across the City, either at existing or new

sites, that provide residents with resources such as compost, seeds, and tools, with at least 5 completed

by January 1, 2014; “.

I would like to see those resources offered to residents for free. Also, I think the legislation is weak in addressing the issue of food justice. Not only should people not go hungry, but everyone should have access to healthy local and organic produce, despite their economic situation.

It is exciting to see this legislation coming up and I think we all need to be advocates for it, but at the same time we have to try to make sure any government money that is spent goes not just into salaries and directly benefits those of us on the grass roots level. And serves the poor especially.

Above I was praising homegrown fruit trees and here is an opportunity to vote in support of a project that is all about planting fruit trees starting with Just One Tree (the money would go to subsidizing trees for low income people). Here is a note from Isabel Wade for her Just One Tree Project:

We are searching for our last 100 votes by next Wed (May 31st) to move up to
the top 10 winning slots of the Odwalla contest… The other 2 SFtree planting
groups are in the top 10, so this is a way that we can get FOOD into the
winning circle too. Thanks so much for all your help with this.

Did you vote for lemons yet? Just One Tree is in the national Odwalla
competition. Please vote at
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Here is a beautiful but very long open letter from Pancho with his thoughts related to the Occupy the Farm

“…This is a warm invitation to collectively step up our love, truth and courage. You could be within or without the system, inside or outside a corporation, it really doesn’t matter. We must appeal to our highest aspirations.

If you are not a religious person this means it is time to bring more integrity to your life to fully develop your potential as a compassionate, courageous, loving, kind and wise human being.

If you are a religious person this means that it is time to bring God, Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, Rama, Buddha, Jesus or whatever name you use, closer to your life. Acknowledge God in your heart and let it shine.”

I am sending out a prayer for Pancho who goes to see an immigration judge tomorrow.  Again he is the one of three people arrested for meditating at Occupy Oakland for bringing peace to the scene there.  The charges were dropped but he was released to ICE and thus a day with the judge has come up.

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