The past few weeks we have been at the peak of our summer harvest.  Thanks to Alemany Farm, our Free Farm, and our new commercial refrigerator the amount of locally grown and harvested produce has increased. So much so that these last two weeks at the Free Farm Stand we have had almost as many “Hecka Local” vegetables from our two urban farms as we have  from the left-overs from the Ferry Building Farmers market. The Hecka Local produce is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to running a Free Farm Stand, because recently our numbers have been going up. This week we ran out of numbers and we wound up giving out over 190 tickets. I notice that  we especially are getting a lot more neighbors and families with kids coming during the second half, many seem like they were coming for the first time.  Plus the number of people coming to our smaller Free Farm Stand located at our farm have increased to about 20 people.

When I was packing up the van to bring the produce to the Stand, I was thinking how wonderful all this fresh organic produce is and that it is truly far out what we are doing.  I would guess that the majority of people don’t realize that  when we first open we are giving away a lot of produce that is grown right here in the city. Some of it from just blocks away, like the plums from the Secret Garden. This is one notch up from getting produce from the farmer’s market which is itself really good food. From looking at the records we keep (22 tons of Hecka Local produce that we or friends and neighbors have picked or grown and harvested since 2009), I would say that this experiment has been a big success and shows that  we can do mighty work.

Planting and grafting more trees and harvesting the fruit trees that are planted already and distributing  the fruit for free to those in need is some of the greatest work we can be doing these days  Below are some .photos from the  food forest that we planted in 2008 with the permaculture guild at 18th and Rhode Island. I dropped by there last week and it was so exciting to see  trees we planted bear fruit. The story these days it seems in many gardens is that they need more  volunteer help. The trees there  need summer pruning and the  garden itself needs more attention. Alas, the fruit trees we planted are doing great and many are also just starting to bear fruit.  It does make me sad that we will have to move them, but it looks like we have some good homes that might go to (including more trees at Western Park Apartments…see photo of some of the trees we planted there already).  Last week my new friend  MaryAnn and fruit tree pruning mentor came by the Free Farm and gave a couple of us more lessons in aesthetic grafting of  fruit trees. I love her because she like me communicates with the trees. She encouraged me when I am stumped on which branch to prune, ask the tree by holding the limb and seeing what you feel is being said. I totally believe that trees can talk to us if we listen.

20130810_3999 (Small)Sir Prize avocado…the first fruit…it took about 5 years

20130810_3992 (Small)Mountain papaya fruit or Babaco fruit

20130810_3996 (Small)Lamb Haas avocado (the fruit has to stay on the tree for a year to properly ripen)

good luck as  there is no fence around the garden

20130810_4001 (Small)White Sapote fruit…the first ones

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another variety of White Sapote that I grafted onto the tree

White Sapote fruit…the first fruit from this tree

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Margaret standing in the small fruit orchard we Free Farmers planted this year at Western Park apartments,

subsidized senior housing. Joyce our greeter at our gate lives there.

Here is what Hecka Local produce looks like in action:

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20130811_3986 (Small)Khin Thiri Nandar Soe from Burma stands next to our Hecka Local table with plums.

zucchini, and Sungold cherry tomatoes ( we have had tons of these lately)

You can wear it too. More trombone squash fashion ware:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACristina is fashionable without wearing her squash. She grew this one

from a seedling she picked up at the Stand

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jalapeños in a pot at the Free Farm

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also in a container  (a wine barrel)

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On a more serious note, someone hung this sign up at the Free Farm Stand.

I love that we can help get the word out that we need to protect bicyclists.

This sign was very well worded

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I wrote a song years ago called the No Car Song.  About a city without cars and eating  real street food. Here are a few of the lyrics:

If cars weren’t in the city

there’d be more room for trees

If cars weren’t in the city

the air’d be like a country breeze…

We could eat off the street

Grow grains on the lanes

Beanstalks on the sidewalks

Honydews on the avenues

Swiss chard on the boulevard…

If cars weren’t in the city

Things would suddenly grow quiet

If cars weren’t in the city

My friend wouldn’t have been run over the other night

We could grow maize on the freeways

hops in the bus stops

squashes in the car washes

grape vines round the stop signs

Plantations in the gas stations (first with some toxic cleanup)

This ideas that the Free Farm Stand are promoting are taking root and even spreading world wide. I me t a woman visiting with her lovely family from Japan who wants to create a Free Farm Stand in Japan. She lives in a small village outside Tokyo and she knows people who are farming. And just today I got an email from a guy in Hong Kong who wants to start a Free Farm there on a roof top and sent me a list of how to questions.

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sharing the secrets to putting on a  good magic show with Yoko

Here is something from Facebook from this inspiring local hero in Berkeley whom I met at a permaculture guild meeting. He is doing great work and inspiring his neighbors to grow their own food. I would just add that we should remind ourselves that we  can share our surplus with those who may be hungry or have a tight budget.. No need for buying and selling it. Let’s create a world centered around generosity and shading the abundant wealth around us! We should be doing this here in our Mission neighborhood. Anyone want to organize it?

Laurence Schechtman posted in “Urban Homesteading” belongs to all of us!

NEIGHBORHOOD VEGETABLES
We Can Grow Food and Community
Here Where we Live
Back Yards, Front Yards, Empty Lots.
If you need help in your garden
We can arrange a volunteer
GARDEN WORK PARTY
Expert advice and perhaps a steady helper
As food prices rise,
We can grow our own good food,

IF WE COOPERATE
NEIGHBOR TO NEIGHBOR
With our skills, land and labor.
Whether or not you have a yard,
We can garden together
If you are interested, call
510-652-7442, or write
[email protected]


Yesterday a friend and volunteer at the Free Farm sent me an article from the Chronicle from July 29, 1997 that blew me away. The article describes how Fresh Start Farms, run by Ruth Brinker, was located for a time on the same land that the Free Farm is now located and how they were also asked to leave because St. Paulus Church had plans to develop the site! Ruth Brinker was a woman who started Project Open Hand that continues today cooking meals for people with AIDS. According to the article she started a farm on land on Divisadero and Ellis loaned to them by the city  (I had always thought it was given to them, but after 18 months they had to leave to make room for housing development.) That is when St. Paulus loaned them the land like they loaned it to us.  But it is interesting that no one at St. Paulus remembers them being on their land (I was told when I thought that there might have been some attempt at agriculture on the land before we came, someone from the church said yes it was some kind of business that couldn’t make a go of it.)  So the history of the Free Farm at least started in 1996 when Fresh Start Farms took root at Gough and Eddy. Although our models were somewhat different, both our farms shared the same spirit of serving the vulnerable populations in our city.

The reason I think this is so remarkable is that it confirms my belief that projects (even people) never die.  I am convinced from history like this, that when the Free Farm moves off this land  at the end of the year, that the love/work energy that the Free Farm and Fresh Start Farms has put into the soil, will re-sprout somewhere else given some time.

Here are some recent photos from the Free Farm Stand and the Free Farm. To say the least we had about two van fulls of produce this week, including a lot of produce grom at both Alemany Farm and the Free Farm. Now that we have a new commercial refrigerator (thanks to a generous grant from the Bothin Foundation), we are able to store produce harvested during the week. So we can really use  harvesters and gleaners. On Wednesday afternoon would be an ideal time to harvest extra produce at Alemany Farm.  Cristina, Tom, and Loren harvested about 38lbs of plums from the Secret Garden this week and again they were they were very tasty and popular, despite all the other fruit we had.
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you can be either tall or short to glean a tree

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 plums and apples gleaned locally

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit’s tomato season now and we love our heirloom tomatoes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApeppers from the Free  Farm

20130804_3960 (Medium)we loved her homemade pickles from produce from the stand. In the background

Mike set up the bicycle smoothie operation to show how you can use the mushy soft fruit

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we love all the new babies and kids who visit and eat fresh

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe love giving away free flowers

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Eating fresh starts with the local farm…Vanessa and her Happy Belly

Summer Camp visits the Free Farm

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Here is another article that someone sent me http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27982.cfm. This is about how one Food Bank is trying to increase the amount of fresh produce they give out. It is what we realized years ago.  If rents get too high in San Francisco, maybe Sacramento is the place to move and get some Capay Organic Family Farm produce from the Food Bank there. Or better yet move up there and grow it yourself  and take advantage of the hot climate.