Growing Gratefulness

It seems a while since I wrote an anything about what is going on at the Free Farm Stand these days.  Since I want to write something about the Free Farm too, which for right now is another blog at thefreefarm.org/, I am going to keep this short and tell  the story mostly through photos that I have been collecting and not publishing.

One thing I can’t help repeating  here is that I continually feel so grateful for all our volunteer crew. We have a very consistent group of helpers that mostly come every week to set up and break down the stand, schlep  produce and sort it,  and put in on on tables to make a beautiful display.  Plus everyone that volunteers and  the people who come to shop are really sweet and beautiful in their own special way.  It is these people that give me the energy to do my part in this food  theater production we put on every week and why at the end of the day though I may get tired, I feel high and happy. I know I am repeating myself here, but the message is important. One needs inspiration and good vibes these days as  the city becomes ( I think) a bit meaner and sad place. Just as I was leaving  the park today, I cried a bit when I found out that one of our great volunteers is getting evicted from her apartment where she has been for over thirty years.  This eviction trend may not end soon, but at least we can come together as friends and support each other. Sure the landlord wants to pay her off to move, but where can she go where she can pay about $600 a month in rent, which is what she can afford.

The other part of my gratefulness is for the true heroes and heroine gardeners who grow food in their back yard and bring some of it to the stand to share. Yesterday a  friend I know from church brought me three small bags of some lettuce mix  he has been growing. He told me “we are up to here in salads the last two weeks”. I find that totally inspiring and such a sweet and grand gesture to share a little of it with others. Another friend brings me a little something every week from her garden to share and she only would like seedlings if we have them  (she turns down produce). Today a woman I know only from recognizing her face brought me a small bag of lemons. She only spoke Spanish, but she communicated with her smile how excited she was to share something with us.

We are at the height of summer produce season and the amounts of  plenty we have been getting  has really picked up. Plenty of summer squash, plenty of stone fruit, plenty of farm fresh produce from Alemany Farm and the Free Farm.

IMG_2942Neighbor Janet  and her husband with some samples from their garden to share

IMG_2952Malabar gourd (Cucurbita ficifolia) or Chilacayote from 18th & Rhode Island garden.

I never thought this member of the melon family was that edible, but recently I discovered it is very popular with people who are from Latin America. It is used mainly as a dessert, boiled and then sugar and milk added. Last week a woman from Guatemala talked to Lolita and I about it and this week I handed it out and discovered that the Asian people that come to shop also like it a lot. I learn something new everyday.

IMG_2937boxes of stone fruit from Knowle Farm

IMG_2963Goldy zucchini in Treat Commons next to the stand

IMG_2938carrots from the Free Farm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAzucchini galore.from last week…when I was handing out produce yesterday

I told everyone where each item was grown: plums from  a backyard tree in Novato in Marin, winter squash from Sebastopol,

zucchini from the Free Farm and Alemany Farm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAon Pride Day we made smoothies with frozen soft  frozen fruit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe dad had to petal because his son couldn’t reach the pedals…Mike  found a smaller bike that kids can ride and we will change it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthere was music too by some of my favorite friends

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAone of my new excitements is planting cardoons on the sidewalk

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This is a thumbs up to our comrades in Fruitvale (how appropriate a name) who continue to share surplus produce on Sundays in front of Casa de Paz at their Free Farm Stand. I visited them recently and they have one of the most beautiful backyard gardens around and they are slowly working on creating a farm on a vacant lot down the street. I love how we can pollinate each other!

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We need gleaners! Cristina brought us apricots from the Mission from a tree that needs picking and there are so many plums too at the secret garden.

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