I mentioned freespace in my last Free Farm blog and today I finally made it over there to see what it was about. I heard it was a beautiful scene and the garden that we donated seedlings to I heard was looking good. Being a member of the older generation I couldn’t understand what my friends at freespace were talking about in terms of a place for civic hacking. When I got there I asked Mike what does the word hack mean. Actually another man who just quit his job at Apple told me it means to take something that has one common use or purpose and to change it so it has another use. Mike said that the Free Farm Stand is doing a civic hack by taking food and instead of selling it in a store, creating a free farm stand. According to the National Day of Civic Hacking site (which is now a national month of civic hacking), people working together with the common goal of “improving their community”. So freespace is a place where people are coming together to experiment and try improving things outside the normal channels of government or even money. Here is a good article about what is happening there called How a Vacant Warehouse Became a Hub of Community Collaboration: Homelessness. Poverty. Blight. Crime. Drugs. Like many urban areas, San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood is filled with these challenges. But, with these challenges come an enormous potential for change. In recognition of the National Day of Civic Hacking, a group of civic innovators set out to create a temporary space that would create lasting community solutions.” Here are some pictures:
I enjoyed visiting the space and feel good about what they are trying to do. I am not sure if they should be trying to raise $25,000 to rent the building for another month (right now they are paying only $1 for the space). You can see a video about the space here at there crowdfunding effort at indiegogo (freespace – A Temporary Space for Lasting Change). I think the money would be better raised for buying a Lasting Space of Lasting Change. The Free Farm could definitely use this kind of space they have temporarily taken charge of. I told the people I talked to there that even more important than our efforts to fight hunger and food insecurity by promoting urban agriculture, is the need to house people with little or no income. There is a real crisis here in poor people losing housing and gentrification out of control and that in my opinion is the number one civic hack that is needed…a housing hack. I would love a building and some land next to it, to put up traveling and homeless farmers and other karma yogis into service and beautiful art. It seems that the freespace world is connected to a lot of people that could make that a reality (we are talking big money and connections) and why settle for more temporary projects? Hayes Valley Farm, another “interim space” project, got occupied by the “Liberate the Land ” folks the day after it closed (and the day freespace opened for a month). The land liberators liberated the land for two weeks (naming it Gezi Gardens) before the police came (lots of them) and shut the scene down and pulling people out of the tree platforms (arresting at least seven people). Then bulldozing the area that was planted! The latest news I have heard is that ironically the Allen’s hummingbirds are saving the eucalyptus trees and possibly development. According to what someone told me and then confirmed by a recent article in the Chronicle in the Datebook section, written by Caille Millner (I don’t know the date), “the trees can’t be cut down now because it is nesting season [according to the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918]”. An attempt is being made to stop the construction and destruction work based on this Act, at least temporarily and a demand was sent to the mayor today to replant the area so the birds have habitat that was destroyed by the eviction.A man named Eric Eberman happened to be driving by when he saw trees being cut down so he went to the planning department and got the phone numbers of the Federal and State Wardens (at least one of them was a biologist). They came out and got the city workers to stop the cutting of the trees (I have heard seven out of forty have been cut and I also heard only 3 were cut down). I don’t know why it was the city workers cutting the trees not the private contractor.
Eric, who was quoted above about the Migratory Bird Act, wants to create a bird sanctuary there which sounds good to me. He has seen also the red tail hawk and a peregrine falcon passing through the land and we have seen those travelers too at our Free Farm.
The Free Farm Stand has definitely now entered summer abundance season and we had about thirty cases of figs, apricots, and plums donated by the farmers at the Ferry Building. We also had records amount of produce from both our big local farms, Alemany and the Free Farm. The second delivery of produce from Stonestown Mall Farmer’s Market is almost unreal how much leftover produce we can collect. There is still a need to find more people who can on a moment’s notice, sort of like superman, jump into action and rescue soft fruit. I am up to my ears in fruit and I can only can so much and we haven’t hit tomato season yet. Someone dumped all this fruit on in a bucket to be composted, but before I dumped it at the end of the day, I couldn’t help myself and pulled out a lot of soft but great tasting apricots, but still there was still good fruit to be saved.
Some of our beautiful volunteers with the fresh produce rescued from the waste stream
Here are two photos of other Free Farm Stands that we feel are sister projects:
Tabitha Farm Urban Homestead & Community Garden
Free Farm Stand Fruitvale (how appropriate)
While this isn’t exactly related to growing food in the city , the protest in Turkey started out with a demonstration about a park being destroyed because of development. I found these articles interesting. One about an “Anti-Capitalist Muslims” group joining the fight against “the construction boom” : http://www.vocativ.com/06-2013/prayers-in-the-park/ The other about gay activists in Gezi Park : http://www.vocativ.com/06-2013/turkey-gay-protesters/.