Hope Growing on Trees

I haven’t written anything for this blog for a long while, because I was praying for a positive message that would bubble to the surface of my heart. Recently I watched an inspiring  video of Valarie Kaur speaking. She asked the question about the seemingly  dark times we are in, “What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?” Later she said  like a midwife”s  advice to giving birth “breathe and then push”. That was good but I needed something off of the screen to move me.

Today the inspiration hit when I visited the 18th and Rhode Island garden on Potrero Hill.  I worked with David Cody and Kevin Bayuk and others in 2008 transforming the vacant land into a permaculture garden. The owner of the lot allowed us to develop his empty lot into a garden to grow food in and at the same time I was just starting the Free Farm Stand and needing places to grow food for the Stand. I didn’t know much about permaculture and this was a great chance to learn about it and at the same time also get a chance to plant fruit trees.

The first workday nine years ago


Bringing in large amounts of mostly wood chips from Bayview Greenwaste Management and 1000 lb. bales of cardboard from Whole Foods Market down the sreet


A lot of work and great volunteers…the number one resource…social capital not dollar sign capital

Berms of wood chips

Planting trees

Today 2017

White Sapote…see the fruit?

I just got some scion wood from this Lamb Haas avocado

The story is I find hope in hard work and trees. We need to keep on working hard to create the beautiful world we want and to continue planting trees, especially fruit trees, to feed our soul and belly. I felt that rush of hope when I visited the garden today and spent some quiet time with the trees and the soil. Coming home I looked across the street and felt that hope again… they are even planting trees in the parking lot across the street from me in the new grocery store and leaving some space for dirt versus car space. Though they may not be planting anything edible and the store is mostly canned food, the landscaping is a move in the right direction.

Hats off to the blessings of nature! Hats off to hard work to make a better world!

I am in the All in Common Garden right now on Sundays instead of at the Free Farm Stand. Please drop by  and see what is going on or to get down and dirty. Our awesome volunteers are keeping the food and magic going at the Stand. The rains have been good. Alemany Farm, where we harvest a lot of our produce is very wet and things are growing, though this is the slow season for vegetables and fruit.  We still need helpers of all kinds so please get in touch.

And a special blessing and prayer for one of our sweetest and hardest working of our volunteers Donaji Lona and her family. Her beautiful and special son Chuy has cancer again and they are all going through this difficulty and challenge once more (see here).

We Need Volunteers!

Join the Free Farm Stand family and help us share the wealth of urban farms and gardens.  We need folks to:
1. Set up, serve, and clean up at the Stand.
2. Drive our van to pick up produce.
3. Harvest gorgeous vegetables.
4. Garden.
5. Pack the van and unload the van.

Interested in regularly volunteering?
Contact Laura: checkitoff@outlook.com

In 2017, we’re moving to a new system. Let’s say that you want to volunteer twice a month at the Stand. You’ll get to choose which Sundays you’ll regularly volunteer, for example, every 1st and 2nd Sunday each month. And you’ll be part of the teams that volunteer on those specific Sundays.

Make getting to know your neighbors your New Year’s resolution and join us.

We look forward to serving with you!

Barbara May one of our long time volunteer cartoonists

 need-volunteer-help ffs-group-photo

Note from Tree:

Next year  I am going to experiment  being in the All in Common Garden on Sundays instead of at the Stand and to see if I can back away a little. The problem is I just love our project and all our fabulous hard working volunteers and guests who come to “shop” and it is habit forming going to the Stand every week.

After the sad news from our recent national election, I hope more people wake up and realize that the political and economic system we have doesn’t work. We all need to start dropping out of the current culture of buying and selling everything, and create communities based on sharing and generosity. That is what the Free Farm Stand is really about.  I hope you join our family and movement.

Here are two recent photos:

We are still harvesting large amounts of produce on Fridays from Alemany Farm. It has been mostly greens and some sunchokes. Also not pictured are the boxes of fresh gleaned greens from Green Gulch Farm that are so great, brought into the city by a volunteer whom I met at Alemany Farm on Friday when we harvest there.


The hecka local produce from our neighborhood, mostly from our garden, has been beautiful and goes fast:  avocados, persimmons, passion fruit, chayotes, hot peppers,and pineapple guavas.fall-produce-from-ffs


It is the time to shout our praise and to share our joy for rain and spring. Our gardens are singing their happiness too and everywhere it is green and some of us are getting out our hoes (the weeds are more than glad for the moisture). The parade of flowers is coming. Hoesanna!


from a recent three day trip I took with Angie up the coast

We had two wonderful visitors to our garden at the beginning of this month who have been traveling around making a “pay what you want” online film about natural farming inspired by the late the late Masanobu Fukuoka and his most famous  book One Straw Revolution. Their beautiful movie  “Final Straw food earth happiness” which you can download here even if you have zero money inspires one not to pull out the hoe and live instead with the weeds and to live and be in nature, not to fight it or try to improve it.

In any case, the greenhouse is filled with seedlings that we have been giving away in the garden and at the Free Farm Stand. And we sing our gratefulness to the harvests. Despite the rain, every week we have been bringing from Alemany Farm hundreds of pounds of freshly picked food, mostly greens, including rainbow chard, turnip greens, kale, mustard,  fava bean leaves, and collards to the Free Farm Stand. This week at the  we had a special joy. We had two neighbors bring some extra  produce from their gardens. One of the gardens, the Secret Garden on Harrison St. This is a garden that used to grow food for the Stand and thanks to new volunteers wanting to make the space productive again and one neighbor who works there named Aaron we had our first harvest for the year from there, a bag of  tasty greens to share.


in the bags

2016-03-20_12-28-58_IMG_1172on the table in baskets

alemany farm

washing the harvest on Friday at Alemany rain or shine


lettuce bonanza on the table

Another reason to be joyful is that history was made Thursday in San Francisco. I went to a ground breaking ceremony for a new park that is gong to be built at 17th St. and Folsom Sts., just blocks away from where we give away local food.The thing that is so amazing is that after two years or more this park is going into construction and what is probably a first at least for me is that open space is being preserved…a parking lot is going to be dug up on a two acre lot and half will be a park and garden and half will be supposedly affordable housing (they said in another couple of years perhaps).

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When I attended the meetings for neighbors to design the park  there was agreement to plant fruit trees throughout the park and to run the garden communally like Alemany Farm rather than the community garden being individual private beds. This is all in the final design including a greenhouse, but I think there now needs to be neighbors pushing for Recreation and Park to stick with the plan and to start clarifying how the garden will be run. But so far things are looking good.

I am especially eager to see more housing built next to this park for people who can’t afford current rates. While on our trip north along the coast by Mendocino Angie came across  a shack on the beach. We were thinking it was the only affordable place to live for miles…I wonder if someone will rent it out for an Air B&B.


In these days of homeless sweeps and paving over of beautiful farm soil like on the Gil Track  land across the bay we shouldn’t mourn but sing out for  joy for the gift of life and love. And keep the struggle going for peace and justice.

This just in from Loren one of our fabulous volunteers (among many):

The first issue of the Free Farm Stand newspaper, The Free Farm Stander, drops April 10th! Send me any reviews, interviews, musings, pictures, drawings, comix… you get the idea! All good things considered! [this will be handed out at the Free Farm Stand]

I just found an email newsletter in my inbox hidden under Promotions that got me excited. I met  Rev. Anna Woofenden I believe when we were running the Free Farm ,  “our farm church without walls”. The idea is spreading and it looks like their Garden Church is up and running…http://gardenchurchsp.org/.  Sign up for their newsletter (under what’s happening) which seems more interesting and has lots of photos…here is a snippet from their recent newsletter:

Feed and Be Fed Farm Stand 
Every Sunday, bring your backyard abundance, share and mix and match, take what you need–all you need here to eat is to be hungry.