Dreaming Green

I am way over do for expressing my thankfulness on this blog. In fact everything I write should begin with thankfulness. I feel blessed to have so many great people to work with and truly the Free Farm Stand and the 23rd St. Garden is a community grass roots project that wouldn’t happen without all the volunteer hands and hearts that go into it.

Two weeks ago at the Free Farm stand we really highlighted what we are all about. Our Hecka Local “corner” had more great produce than the produce we collected from the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. Three of us at the Stand this week harvested the vegetables and fruit on Friday afternoon) We had the usual fantastic produce from Alemany Farm…chard, kale, loquats, tatsoi, and purslane. We also now have a connection with a gardener at Potrero de Sol garden and occasionally a farm in Pescadero and have been getting some really fresh organic produce. Plus fruit and vegetables from neighbors, including some plums from my backyard.

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This week we also  had more vegetables from Alemany Farm and neighbors than from the left over from the Farmers Market (though the amount of fruit from the market was huge).

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Ben holds a beautiful Caraflex cabbage from Alemany Farm. Kerry behind him made some vegan cobbler

with the soft fruit from last week that didn’t get taken. She is on a Mission to show people how we  use the challenged fruit

and prevent good fruit from being wasted. We really need more people to rescue the soft fruit at our Stand at the end of the day.

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lettuce from my friend and neighbor Michael and plums from my backyard

A special treat for us all was Norma brought her 90 year old dad who is visiting from Mexico and he actually helped give out produce! He used t take care of bees in Colima Mexico and I can’t wait to share some local honey with him while he is in town.

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We have been talking among ourselves about the produce that we give out each week and I thought that all the donated produce from the hip Ferry Building was organic. It turns out that it is not, although I would say it is pretty darn fresh and tasty and at least half are certified organic. The deal is unless you grow it yourself or know and trust your farmer, you cannot really know how organic or not something is or how sustainable it is grown. That is why we are promoting backyard food growing. Even if you can only grow a little food it is worth it for so many reasons. So we are putting a lot of effort into educating people who come to the Stand. Our information table is expanding with books and literature. We are also trying to educate people about the benefits of eating a plant based diet not just for health reasons but mostly for ethical reasons.

Here is the best new right now about backyard food growing. A neighbor approached me about finding someone to garden in his 8 X 9ft garden plot in the Mission not far from the location of the Free Farm Stand. I am looking for someone who will put in a few hours a week to grow some produce in this plot and bring some of the produce to the stand. I will even teach someone how to grow food or flowers if they commit to this project for one growing season. I have the key and there is water the landlord will pay for.

While on the subject of gardens and how the Free Farm Stand is promoting the idea of making our neighborhood a hotspot for urban food growing and sharing, we are moving forward with developing the 23rd Street Garden. Actually my dream is to connect three parcels of land that are adjacent to the old Southern Pacific railroad land. I found the map below at this link on the internet: http://www.spur.org/publications/article/2009-10-01/urban-field-notes-six-spots-mission-track-traces-trains, an interesting read.



And here is how it looked in the late 1800”s


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The train in this picture has just gone past what is now Parque Ninos Unidos and the engine of the train is crossing Folsom St. This park is the where the Free Farm Stand is on Sundays and the location of the Treat Commons Community Garden (neighbors and the block club Calle 22 organizing in the late 80’s made this park and garden a reality in 2003). The 23rd St. Garden is located between Folsom and Shotwell where the lumber is stacked in the picture.

My dream is to also to green the green the land where the railroad used to be between Treat Ave. and Harrison at 22nd St. Below are current photos from Google Earth.

957 Treat Ave arial 957 Treat Ave

Right now it is an eyesore with large roofing trucks, tar machines, a boat parking there without authorization. Wouldn’t it be grand plant fruit trees (and use this site as a free neighborhood garden resource center) and have a green swath from Harrison to Shotwell Street?

I have been trying to get someone to help me make this happen with the railroad land on Treat Ave. but it is going very slowly. Besides contacting Supervisor David Campos office I have been in touch with the new Dept. of Urban Agriculture and Recreation and Park and they like the idea, but dealing with abandoned railroad land apparently is very challenging. If I keep dreaming I would love to see the empty Delano supermarket and parking lot turn green too! It is on the original map with the J.H. Kruze lumber was stored. I live across this vacant parking lot is and it has been vacant for years. We did some guerilla gardening there in containers at one point and actually harvested some peppers and tomatoes that we brought to the Stand. We stopped when we were told that they were coming to get rid of all the stuff there, but they never came. Here is the lot today from Google Earth:

parking lot across st

Some billionaire named Ron Burkle who owns the investment company Yucaipa bought the lease from Fresh and Easy and who knows what is going to happen with the building and land nor when. I can see it in my dreams this being a beautiful orchard.

You know John Lennon wrote “You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one”. I was looking at a photo of the garden I am now working in on 23rd Street around 1975 and I can see that with hard work dreams can come true.

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See how the land was all crushed rock that we had to break up and sift and get rid of. Also you can see that there are no trees on the sidewalk and that the land where the park is today was a building materials business. Here it is today from Google Earth with the design for the new beds and greenhouse we want to put in soon:

23rd st Garden Rev Jun5 with Google Earth edit for google

23rd st garden


Patrick otherwise known as johnnyseedbomb on his blog http://johnnyseedbomb.tumblr.com/, one of our volunteers who I am so lucky to get to work with, wrote this journal entry that I want to share with everyone, because I find it inspiring. I  edited it a lot because it is too long to share it all  here, but you can go to the original at his blog.

Tue May 27, 2014: Feeding people, feeding cats, a spiritual journey

When I arrived at the 23rd St. Garden, Tree and Irving were chatting up a tall Indian youth by the greenhouse… The mystery youth is named Sabri, he is second-generation hippie.  Back in the 70s, his father lived with Tree and Irving right here in Ye Olde Commune.  Sabri gave me an exceptionally warm nice-to-meet-you hug, and as per Irving’s imperative, we immediately set about the task of getting to know one another.

Sabri’s story went like this: six months ago in LA, he got totally burnt out on money.  He trekked up a mountain, fasted for two whole days, and meditated on the suffering that had settled around his heart like so much smog.  When he came down from the mountain, he abdicated a toxic business partnership, his apartments, furniture, and materialistic lifestyle, and has been on a freewheeling spiritual journey ever since.  I reply, “What a coincidence, I plan to go on a similar journey, sometime next week!”…

Feeding people is a powerful practice, with the right intent.  You look upon a person with love, see their humanity, and give them whatever it is they need without considering the cost.  Sometimes, they will need food.  But then other times, they will need something else: empathy, affirmation, advice, laughter.  If you practice giving food every day, you open the door to nourishing people and making them strong in all these other ways.  As David Graeber, my favorite anthropologist, would say: sharing food is the very bedrock of human societies across time and space; it opens the door to mutual love for all people, in all matters.  No community, indeed no civilization can exist very long without it.

When you share food with someone, you invite them into your family.  You spin threads of Love out of thin air.  They are nebulous, fine, as fragile as silk blowing in the wind — but with enough threads, you weave a web that can bind all of us together.  I learned this from Sabri, and I practiced it first on my cat.

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