Plant Your Heart Out!

After lasts week personal dilemma that I wrote and cartooned about, I was lucky that some clarity came to me sort of out of the blue. I did wind up going to the Food Bank to pick up more Mandarin oranges and though they were not organic or I wasn’t sure, I knew they were not one of the dirty dozen  ( foods that should always be eaten organic ( they are number 24 …lower numbers = more pesticides).  Though today when I looked up What is on My Food  (I have this link on my blog “, I did find it has a lot of two chemicals that are a problem to our bodies. When I was there I saw a huge amount of potatoes that were not organic and so I passed them up , because they are on that dirty dozen list. Then as I was about to leave I discovered another stack of potatoes that were organic so I snagged them…500 pounds (though I must say they were still industrial organic). It was one of those cosmic messages telling me I was on the right path sticking with organic.

I know as a person that gives away free food, I want to be a responsible person and give away only what I would personally eat, but I also have to consider that many people who come to get produce may be more susceptible to the dangers of non-organic food like pregnant moms or people with compromised immune system. When it comes down to it distributing local organic produce, that is the safest way to go (and organic and sustainable is  best for the environment and for the bees and pollinators if you have to buy your produce).  I also know that there is such a thing as harm reduction, and encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables even if they are not local or organic is a step in the right direction.

My clarity came when I was packing the van to bring produce to the stand.  Besides the large amount of mandarins and potatoes from the food bank, we had collected little organic produce from the farmer’s market. Though we did have  almost as much fresh produce that we collected not only from our Free Farm where we grew it, but a lot of greens from the permaculture garden on 18th and Rhode Island. Plus some lemons I picked from my neighbors tree and some tree collards from my backyard and some rocoto peppers. Later during the Stand  a couple of neighbors brought by more lemons and Pam came by with New Zealand spinach, plus I also harvested surplus produce from the community garden next to the Free Farm Stand.

What I realized is that what we are doing is pretty far out though most people who come to the Stand do not get it yet.  We are growing food here in San Francisco, on a few small farms and gardens and from backyards and giving it away to people in need.  This is pretty special and I feel so grateful for having the opportunity to do this. Many people are giving out free food in the city and doing harm reduction in some sense, but we are going into another dimension and growing our food here in the city and giving it away. Hopefully, we can educate people at the same time about where the food comes from and why it matters. So I am feeling pretty good about this and I know that this is not a thing about quantity, but quality and going in the direction we need to be going.
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plum blossoms still blooming

IMG_2441Dominique and I with lettuce just harvested from the garden


freshly harvested Oxalis flowers for salad…all parts if the plant can be eaten,

but I think in moderation because it is high in oxalic acid

IMG_2455Lily is one of are regular fabulous gardeners

IMG_2445So is Andy…the garden is a great way to connect and be part of the Free Farm Stand

please join us on Sundays while waiting for some produce

IMG_2456the apricot trees in the garden are blooming too

Last week someone  posted a link to a fantastic video in our comment section that I want to post again. I know this video is circulating around  among our network of people interested in growing food, and it inspires me no end and there is an article here with the video too. This guy Ron is pretty funny as well as getting a strong message across. The article sums it up nicely “Ron Finley talks about gardening in the inner city, the ‘most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.’ In this TED talk he says  “If you want to meet with me, come to the garden. With your shovel. So we can plant some shit!”. We at the Free Farm are not using shovels as much perhaps (trying to disturb the soil structure as little as we can), but we do want you all to come down to our farm and plant some shit too! Another thing is that Ron says Los Angeles leads the United States in vacant lots with 26 square miles of land. In San Francisco we are not so lucky and unfortunately all the vacant lots are being eaten up with development here.  Somehow we have to rise up and voice a displeasure to further development of our open space. We also need to form our own group  like   L.A. Green Grounds that “grows connections between people and gardening…Growing, working, teaching: changing turf into edible gardens…”. That has always been one of the goals of the Free Farm Stand, but we have always been short of the volunteers to make that aspect of the project take off. But the growing spaces are still there, especially in people’s backyards.

One thing that really tickles me these days is that we have some new young folks connected with Occupy that have been improving the scene at the Free Farm Stand. Not only are they helping give out seedlings, but they also have started a really really free market of sort,  where people can give out or pick up some free shit they want to share with others, and this week they were making seed bombs and showing others how to do it.


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A new person showed up at the Free Farm Stand named Tony and he made and posted a short video about his experience. Like I said many people do not quite see all the many facets of our project and only see the free food, but it is a sweet movie from a sweet guy


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