For the first time in maybe a year, I as the backup driver for the Stand, had to pick up produce on Saturday for the Free Farm Stand. I love doing this work though and it has been hard to keep out of the fun and excitement of the Stand. I was told that we are short on volunteer drivers. One of the many tasks to make the Free Farm Stand happen every week is to drive on Saturdays to pick up the produce at Martin’s soup kitchen on Potrero Ave and take it to our home where we store it until Sunday (it has been collected already from the farmers market). For the last two years I have mainly been gardening down the street and not involved so much in organizing the Stand nor being there on Sundays. I also haven’t been keeping our website and blog up to date. So, it seems like I should give a shout out that we need help to keep going.
Our all-volunteer program has been operating miraculously for ten years by people committing themselves to at minimum one day a month to drive our van to pick up produce from various places and bringing it to our garage or to the Free Farm Stand. There are also other tasks that need regular help.
The All in Common Garden and even Alemany Farm where we get the bulk of our “hecka local” produce are both thriving with the rain, despite the cold. Here is a recent video about Alemany Farm shot last year:
video made by Lori Eanes June 2018
There is still plenty of bounty to share and every week I have been giving out avocados from our trees to volunteers and visitors alike. It is winter and there is less produce to give out, but every week I am happy that here in the bay area we have some fruits and vegetables to distribute.
cold hardy bananas growing in our garden since December
Starting around 2008 there was an explosion of interest in growing food locally and we were just part of the wave of people interested growing urban farms and gardens and sharing our excitement we were experiencing. We have always seen this movement as a way of building a community of love activists dedicated to transforming society by building alternatives to the world of commerce and dollar exchange. In other words, promoting “free” and doing things for free. Creating a world where we trust the universe to guide us and nurture us. To practice generosity and compassion in our work and in our community. I think this excitement has died down in the city somewhat, but I continue to find inspiration in beautiful projects sort of hidden here and there. These feed my soul in these times when open space seems to be disappearing in our cities and urban farming is becoming less common.
Here is an example of a great project happening south of us in the Los Angeles area. In 2010 we created a Free Farm on land lent to us by St. Paulus Lutheran Church, where they once had a beautiful church which burnt down years previously. We thought of it as a church without walls, that our garden and its spirit rose from the ashes of that church and continues a ministry of sowing love and vegetables and fruits. One of our visitors was Rev. Anna Woofenden, an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. When I had dropped out of college in the sixties, I wound up living in a draft resistance commune in a big house owned by some Swedenborgians who were our landlords. I have always felt that they were good people. Anna went on to start the Garden Church
(https://gardenchurchsp.org/ ) in San Pedro in 2014, a year after our Free Farm was evicted from our site. I have been following their work since they started and it has always inspired me. I think we need more “churches” or places to worship and places to build community like these. Their garden is the Feed and Be Fed Farm (https://www.feedandbefed.org/). Here is a movie they recently made about their work. I especially like the part about making compost.
The other day I visited with my love warrior friend Pancho who is about to take off from his home in Oakland on March12 to go on the “Camino para la Familia de la Tierra / Walk for the Earth Family 2019 a Beginning, with No End [a walk from the Bay Area to the so called border of Mexico and the U.S.]. In his own word he says
“We are living in times of unprecedented global awareness. It is becoming increasingly more evident the different ways in which we impact each other with the choices we make, from the obvious, in our actions, all the way to the subtler level, in the thoughts we have. Unfortunately, we are often surrounded by habits of disconnection and a culture of fragmentation that have great repercussions in the ways we live, and influence our mostly reactions to pain and harm, as opposed to respond with equanimity, love and compassion…Take the example of the current humanitarian crisis at the so called “border” in the parts of the Planet we call Mexico and the U.S.. Unless we address the root causes of the diaspora forcing our sisters and brothers and their children to migrate, we are going to find ourselves reacting to a never-ending loop of emergencies. In the meanwhile, it is our moral responsibility to treat each other, at the very least, with respect to learn each other’s stories.
But what if we engage in a long term vision to take fierce care of our grand human family and the Earth Community as a whole? A kind of Overground Railroad** facilitating the collective liberation of each and everyone of us. A path so beautiful that strongly calls our heads, hearts, hands and spirits to participate in a small way to bridge our lives with more joy and harmony. stories. ““ I asked him what will happen with the Awakin Circle at his home in Oakland (http://www.awakin.org/local/city/oakland) and he told me it will continue. Also Fruta Gift will continue on Sundays. We wrote about this project on January 7, 2016 (https://freefarmstand.org/2016/01/07/heart-to-heart-resuscitation/). Pancho sent me a link about their love work written in Yes Magazine in 2017): FrutaGift article. It is so wonderful when others can step up and help projects keep on running when the main anchor is away. These days we hear politicians talk about a revolution, but the basic revolution starts in our neighborhoods, building communities where neighbors learn to work and support with each other. Where we can harvest and share the bounty together.
The world of the internet is amazing: Here is another Free Farm Stand in Poughkeepsie, New York.
I am still working on creating the Mission Greenway on the old railroad right of way between Treat and Harrison Streets. It seems magical that this strip of vacant land would be ideal continuation of the park where the Free Farm Stand is every Sunday. After a year of pestering the tax assessor to figure out who the land belongs to (and no taxes are being paid on it), our neighborhood group Friends of the Mission Greenway, is still in the dark. You can visit our webpage and blog https://missiongreenway.org/ for more information. We could use some help in figuring out what to do next….any occupiers out there or should we start tearing the asphalt up and planting trees?
Wow this is the 10th year of the Free Farm Stand and we are still giving out beautiful, local, organic produce every Sunday! I am now in the garden one block away on Sundays and the regular crew has been running it with love without my being there which is so fantastic. I am so grateful to have others step up and keep our wonderful program going strong. Here are two photos , one is of Ms. Yu a wonderful long time helper and the other is Winter, a young long time helper. Also there is a poster by Barbara May another fabulous volunteer who sadly passed away early this year.
Laura our terrific coordinator of the Stand these days asked me to post this request for help:
BE A VOLUNTEER OR RECRUIT ONE!
Love and volunteers power the Free Farm Stand. We need your support to continue to build community through the sharing and growing of beautiful, organic produce. Volunteer with us!
Setting up veggies, serving veggies, and cleaning up at the Stand on Sundays.
Harvesting produce from Alemany Farm on Fridays.
Gardening on Tuesdays and Sundays at the All in Common Garden
Driving our van on Saturdays to pick up produce. (2 hour task, starts around 3:45pm)
Driving our van on Sundays to pick up produce. (2 hour task, starts around 11:45am)
Opening on Sundays, bringing produce to the park. (45 minute task, starts around 10am)
Closer on Sundays, storing empty boxes and baskets. (30-45 minute task, starts around 3pm)
A tech type person to keep our facebook page and blog page up to date
(#4-7 above require a driver’s license and ability to drive an automatic van))
I would add that many volunteers help just once a month with one of these tasks and it is so great when all the slots are filled and the coordination becomes easier.
Just yesterday a woman named Natasha walked over from the Free Farm Stand looking for me in the garden, because she wanted to start a gleaning project in the city. She heard that I knew about gleaning in San Francisco. I am the perennial hippie gardener it seems, and I have been in the neighborhood forever. I do know about gleaning and the “old days” going back to when the food revolution took off here in 2008. The Free Farm Stand was just a part of that revolution. There was a lot more going on in the way of gleaning in the Bay Area at that time and I am out of touch with what is going on now. I think all the gleaning projects have gone by the wayside around here. Just look at back issues of our blog to read about gleaning in the city in past years (“Glorious Gleaning Galore” published October 12, 2009 is just one example).
I write about this because when I was talking to her, I was reminded how in some ways that local food revolution was a very popular excitement at that time and now a number of urban farms and gleaning projects have ended (though I think there is still a lot of produce that could be gleaned . I am just looking out my window at our loquat tree). There are still a lot of community gardens and even new ones have opened. Projects like Alemany Farm and the Free Farm Stand are special and stand out from the pack in my opinion. We are still going after all these years and all the produce at Alemany Farm is grown for free for those in need and can be picked fresh from the field or picked up at the Stand on Sundays. And the Free Farm Stand remains a people powered all volunteer effort. It seems that as some of us age we continue to need not only new body parts and to keep stretching those parts we do have. That is so we can keep lifting and hauling, and doing the fun grunt work mentioned in the last blog. We could also use a transfusion of fresh love energy to flow through our work and that is what we are putting out there to the universe.