As fall is slipping away and the new year approaches, I get a bit nostalgic about the early days of the Free Farm Stand, when we had a small table inside the garden and the project was in it’s sweetest most personal incarnation.  Here are some pictures from the first day in 2008:

all the produce from my backyard and a neighbor/friend down the street

all brought to the park by bicycle cart

a neighborhood family whom I still see around

This is also a season when I spend more time slowing down and reflecting on things and of course trying to count my blessings a little more than I normally do. This project we call the Free Far Stand is really not just about fighting hunger and food insecurity, nor just about teaching people to pay attention to where their food comes from (and getting a chance to have a relationship with urban farmers), or paying attention to the connection between diet and health, or even  just getting people to know their neighbors more.

What we are about at the core is hoping to inspire people to shift their mindset and world view.  To get in touch with the abundance that is out there and to act out of generosity and compassion. To believe in magic, the power of dreams, and miracles. To be thankful. To make love in many ways. To have faith.This is different than the propaganda that is fed us today from various sources…like the message to get ahead as a first priority (with a career or a job), to consume,  to buy and sell, in short to get real.

From my experience having lived in the crazy world I describe above, the rewards have been too many to describe. One example I can give, is that when I come home from the Free Farm Stand although I am exhausted, I feel great happiness and a certain stillness inside.

Here are some photos from the yesterday’s Stand:

28 lbs of sunchokes from the Esperanza garden (the Free Farm was closed on Saturday

 and thus no Free Farm Produce at the Stand

passion fruit from the garden down the street…I just put some fruit in a smoothie and it was delicious

the African Blue basil in full bloom still attracting the bees

free lettuce seedlings 

we had boxes of green beans left over at the end that came in the second shift

I love these two pictures above. Clara and her twins are in Oakland, but still with us in spirit. Cristina took her some lettuce starts to put in her new garden.

On a subject that has nothing to do with Farm Stands, but is one more thing to be grateful for, I stumbled upon this internet site that is about “sharing the sounds of birds around the world”, if you need a break from farming or whatever: Then you can get  back outside and hear the bird sounds live and say thanks..

We are coming up on my favorite holiday, a special day of the year for us all to be Thankful. Yet it seems difficult to talk about  my feelings of gratefulness and thanks when the world is filled with war and the suffering it brings to everyone caught up in that violence.  I am particularly thinking about the Mid East right now and the multiple conflicts going on in that part of the planet.

One has to believe in peace and the power of acting out of love and kindness towards each other. That is my prayer as we move into the holiday season of Peace and Joy.

At the Free Farm Stand we are so blessed with abundance, not only a wealth of good produce but good people. A place where neighbors meet neighbors and talk. In an article I read recently about the anti-GMO initiative that lost at the ballot,  Michael Pollan wrote “Confirming the obvious, one social scientist found that people have 10 times as many conversations at the farmers’ market as they do at the supermarket….City meets country. Kids discover what food is. Activists circulate petitions. The farmers’ market has become the country’s liveliest new public square, an outlet for our communitarian impulses and a means of escaping, or at least complicating, the narrow role that capitalism usually assigns to us as “consumers.” At  Free Farm Stand  (which could be thought of as a Free Farmer’s Market), fruit and vegetables are free and we promote sharing of surplus and helping those in need. There is an opportunity for neighbors to not  just be consumers, but to participate in the show being put on, either by bringing something to share that they grew or by volunteering. I believe this is what rejuvenates our society and specifically our neighborhoods, promotes local food growing and eating healthy, and is an opportunity to balance the negative in the world with something positive.

This week we had a parade of giant vegetables:

giant beet

Beets not Bombs…yes

giant kohlrabi that we cut in half

our “Hecka Local” produce including the one sweet potato grown at the Free Farm

we also had a lot of lettuce both from the Free Farm, Alemany Farm, and left over from the Ferry Building farmer’s market (and we gave away a lot of lettuce starts too)