I believe that the Free Farm Stand is populated by the sweetest angels. They show up out of the blue and I am always charmed by their beauty and grace.
Last Sunday’s Stand must have set the Guinness World records book in terms of how much produce we had to give away. I showed up with a van filled with produce and I had to go back home to get the rest since it wouldn’t all fit in one trip. Besides the boxes of Free Farm produce there was extra left-over produce from the Farmer’s Markets, a large percent being fruit (over fifty boxes of various stone fruit and the farmers wanted to give us another fifty, but there wasn’t enough room in the Food Runner’s big truck).
The Free Farm Stand is more than just a food give away program and my emphasis has always been to create a network of neighbors growing food and sharing their surplus with those in need. So to me it is so special in my mind when others bring something to share that they grew or gleaned. For example, I have been so grateful and appreciative of Sam from the School Farm who has been for the last month bringing some surplus produce to our Stand. The School Farm by the way is a 1/4 acre of land on the campuses of the School of the Arts (SOTA) and Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAS) and is a “collaboration between Ecology Center of San Francisco (EcoSF), and the SOTA and AAS school community”. Sam is one of those angels I am writing about.
Another angel is Cristina who picked 14 pounds of plums from the Secret Garden and brought them by for us to distribute. It wasn’t like we were short of fruit, but I thought these plums and her picking them was the perfect example of what is really important. No food should get wasted and picking up the produce from the Farmer’s Market at the end of the day is a bit like gleaning and keeping good fruit out of the waste stream. But I think picking the fruit that is just a block away from the Stand is even more important, the more local the better. It was interesting that the small plums from the Secret Garden are very popular and they were given away very quickly. Then Cristina went around the park with the basket of plums she picked and recruited two more angels to help her pick and they brought back 28 more pounds towards the end of the stand. As I was packing up I saw two neighbors collecting the plums they picked and I was surprised that none were wasted! It was one of those days too where one of our other volunteers brought plums from their community garden on Clipper St.
two women at the end going though the Hecka Local plums picked by the angels
I also found a few angels to come by after the Stand was closed to take home the mushy and soft fruit and do something with it. I am trying to create a soft fruit phone tree that I can call when we have left-over fruit that needs to be dealt with right away so all this good fruit is used and not composted. This week I wound up with about 4 boxes of fruit that were pretty well picked over and too over ripe to deal with (though they could of been turned into wine or vinegar). I myself spent the day making and canning 15 jars of stone fruit jam and about two gallons of canned tomatoes (instead of writing this blog). Should I mention the angel that came by the Stand with a big bag of beautiful canning jars that were brand new that she found on the sidewalk, what great timing!