Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Marin Organic is an association of organic food producers in Marin County who strive to continually improve farming practices in Marin; to promote the ethical, creative and patient enterprise of sustainable organic agriculture; and to encourage a preference for locally produced food. They requested funding to assess alternatives to current animal harvesting options; to create a sustainable apprenticeship and mentoring program for organic farmers; and to improve transportation from rural areas in Marin to the urban hubs of San Francisco and Oakland.
Movement Generation brings together key Bay Area leaders of grassroots, racial, economic and environmental justice organizations. As a collective group these leaders work to develop shared goals, strategies, and collaborative campaigns around environmental and food security initiatives to meet the needs of low-income communities of color. They have requested funding for support of their permaculture and food-systems course tailored towards grassroots organizers in communities of color. This course invokes traditional knowledge of land-based peoples and provides organizers with a methodology to resist systems of oppression through the creation of community resiliency.
Partners for Sustainable Pollination is working to help the health of honey bees and other pollinators by increasing bee forage plantings and promoting more sustainable agricultural practices. This organization requested funding to print educational materials and hire additional staff in order to expand their impact and outreach in the Bay Area.
People's Grocery works to improve the health and economy of West Oakland through a local food system. Their vision is for a just food system in West Oakland and for all people. They requested funding for one of their projects, the California Hotel, which has a working greenhouse, active volunteer program and weekly visits from community members who become connected with People’s Grocery from their visibility at this hotel. They are seeking funding to grow their program at the Cal Hotel, which they feel is a perfect microcosm for achieving new outcomes in movement building and improving resident health through food.
Pie Ranch is a unique food system education and advocacy non-profit and a thriving, sustainable farm with the goal of bringing together urban and rural citizens to promote sustainable farming, create a healthier food system, and protect our natural environment. They requested funding in order to support the salary of the Urban Youth Development Coordinator who has launched a new partnership with the John O’Connell High School. Through this partnership, approximately 115-130 students will experience hands on education through visiting and working on the farm. This experience is then linked with class lessons in community supported agriculture, food entrepreneurship, resource and energy conservation, land stewardship, and community and environmental ethics.
San Francisco Waldorf School (SFWS) has partnered with The Little Sisters of the Poor and Laguna Honda Hospital to combine biodynamic agricultural education for their students with service to these two residential communities. On each site, SFWS operates a small urban farm which students visit and work on weekly. They requested funds for gardening supplies and materials to help increase food production in the existing space, thereby increasing the size of the food donation that is made to each partner organization. In addition, they will seek training in horticultural therapy to deliver meaningful agricultural programming to improve the lives of their underserved host communities.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Our first cover crop of fava beans have popped up as we move through this Indian summer. Leanne the muralist who did our beautiful murals dropped by and wants to paint more starting in November. We will need donations of house paint (white and primary colors). Lots to do, got to get out into the field.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
|the Berkeley folks|
|a lot of the students biked to the farm|
|lunch and the class brought extra food too|
|apples that a neighbor brought by to share|
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Things are moving ahead in terms of just getting the Free Farm built. Most of the planting beds are made. We now have a beautiful bike cart and bulletin board. All the beds are labeled, the labyrinth is finished, we have two new hose bibs, and we have a somewhat enclosed area where we can grow warm things. Phil just planted another sweet potato plant and a kiwi. The tomatoes are growing crazy and need to be pruned and tied up. We have a lot of baby seedlings that need potting up and will be ready to plant in a few weeks. We are harvesting mostly squash and beans right now and are saving lettuce to give to the Friendship Banquet dinner on Tuesday nights for people with HIV and their families (Griff harvested about 30 heads of lettuce for our first donation). Talking about gratefulness and appreciation, we are deeply appreciative of St Paulus Church for so generously allowing us to use this land to serve those in need in our community.
When I was closing up on Wednesday our dear comrade and farming buddy Pancho dropped in with his family. He has been gone for over a month doing beautiful love work in Arizona and then went traveling to Seattle with his family from Mexico. I can’t wait to hear more stories from him. I really enjoyed meeting his family and his dad likes to give hugs as much or more than Pancho. Lucky for us we will be seeing him Saturday.
We can really use new interns or at least some people to help us with a few regular tasks: blogging once a week, cooking a vegan lunch once a month, either Wednesdays or Saturdays, an artist to help us make a new flier and possible business cards, greeting visitors at the gate, weighing and distributing produce on Saturdays, or record keeping in our newly designed planting log binder. We are also currently looking for lumber (like 2 X12’s) and re-bar to help us finish our two new terraces.
If you want to see a history of the farm through photos check pout Griff's previous post.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Regardless of the tasks or projects at hand, the one constant thing about a workday at our farm, is the trademark free vegan lunch. Not only is the lunch without exception delicious and healthy, the time away from work offers volunteers, new and old, an opportunity to build relationships. We share stories, debate ideas, and marvel at the progress the farm has made. Some call it community building, but in the end it is those relationships that form the sacred fixture that holds the farm together.
In the same light, I am constantly reminded that the entirety of my working here was based on my learning from the other volunteers. From teaching me why we need to inoculate the beans before we plant them to learning about why beehives swarm to hearing the richness of each volunteers’ individual journeys that brought them here—my experience here obviously and completely out did the traditional office internship.
Each workday will inevitably include planting and/or harvesting. Naturally, these activities are fundamental to farming, yet, for someone like me (I have only taken care of one plant in my life before this summer) I have taken great pleasure in the chance to directly connect to creation, care, and giving of food. Now, I actually love to get my fingernails dirty (reminding me of my childhood when I didn’t care a bit about coming home with a white shirt turned brown from mud). And kneeling down to put seedlings in the soil or picking ripe crops also takes my eyes down to the plant-eye-level. It is only from this level that I can truly appreciate the miraculous world that exists down there—how incredible what a little change of perspective can do.
Also working at the farm has given me the many occasions to talk with members of the community beyond the chain link fence lining the farm. It has been a great pleasure listening to the praise of those who pass by. It seems as if at least a dozen people stop by the fence each workday staring in amazement at what we have done here. It is a delight to see people so excited when spotting a favorite vegetable of theirs on the farm. Likewise, every so often a neighbor will come by to tell us the stories of the church, when it burned down, and what the lot was like before January.
On one hand I have been wondering that perhaps the farm’s presence in the community has initiated a dialogue with the city. I don’t know why each of them stop but for me I hope that the farm tells people that at the least it is possible to take care of each other and our shared space in a different way. But on the other I also wonder that if I never tried farming, I could have easily been one of the many who pass by the farm plugged into their headphones in and enthralled in their phone without even glancing at the vibrant color and completely failing to notice the magnificent beauty below his feet.
It seems kind of strange asking you to come by the farm just as I am saying goodbye. But if you haven’t in awhile, make an effort to come back. And when you do, bring a friend, spouse, neighbor, and/or child. Who knows the visit might end up giving them the gift of seeing the world from a plants-eye-view.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
First, a group joined Page in putting terraces on the slope between the community area and the bulletin board. From afar, it looked like a tremendous amount of work. In the middle they placed concrete blocks to make stairs. (It’s hard to imagine, but does this mean more room for new beds?)
Second, a team of very capable men moved half of a dozen concrete boulders, some of which likely weighed hundreds of pounds. The concrete blocks were transformed to create a staircase to the tool shed. And in the process of doing so it appears as if we have created another potential bed.
Additionally, another group amended the bed behind the labyrinth where some unhappy pumpkin plants used to be and planted new lettuce. Meanwhile, I spent some time planting more beans and amending another bed with a wonderful group of volunteers.
Every so often this summer, I have to force myself to take a step back and take notice of the incredible transformation that has taken place at the farm. I remember at my first workday at the farm back in early June, John (who has volunteered here since the very beginning) told me that the farm was only 15% complete. While of course there is no way to precisely calculate this progression, each time I step back I am in amazement at how we collectively always find room for growth, especially when we find room for new beds and new ways to beautify the farm.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Early in the day, John took a group of us to check out the beehives. He showed us a thick layer of hundreds of dying and/decaying bees on all sides of the beehives. On a closer examination we could see them being eaten by ants. John reminded us that an opportunity to see this is usually reserved for National Geographic or Discovery channel shows.
Others spent time to find space in our existing beds to plant lettuce and mustard greens. Also, when starting to re-amend a bed for beans and mustard greens, many of us noticed that the bed was uneven and the soil was sliding down. So, it seemed like each volunteer had a different proposed solution and strategy, but rather than competition, cooperation was the guide to our problem solving. Eventually all of us easily agreed that the quickest and simplest idea was to prop a 10 foot piece of lumber against the end of the bed with stakes, and then we all got to work. The rest of the amending, prepping, planting, and watering were all done with an unusually high attention to detail.
In the spirit of sharing expertise, Griff took sometime and taught me and Susannah how to make compost by layering sticks, “brown stuff”, “green stuff”, pee’d on hay, and “cooked stuff” (very scientific, huh?) with straw laid on top.
And near the end of the day Lauren led a group of young volunteers in starting to dig out a place for an underground pipe to transport water from one end of the farm to the other.
All in all, although the day was chilly and the cold may have slowed us down, it also gave us a chance to be more attuned to the little things at the farm. It was a day of teaching, learning, and trying to stay warm. Even though the sun didn’t show, our fellow volunteers shined bright.
. . .
UPDATE: On Sunday and Monday two of our long-time and super dedicated volunteers opened the farm for two outside groups to see what the Free Farm is all about. On Sunday morning Shandra gave SF bikers who were on the Lots of Abundance Bike Ride (http://sfpublicpress.org/events/2010-07-18/lots-of-abundance-bike-ride) a tour. And on Monday Griff led an Episcopal youth group from traverse city Michigan and they built a new bed, planted new collards, cleaned up, and walked the labyrinth.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
First, just as you enter the farm the previously bare welcome bulletin board, has recently been transformed with lush shades of blue and green and a painting of beans. Yesterday it began its actual function as the primary place to find information and news about the farm. We posted two press articles as well as some newly found pictures of the church that used to stand where our farm now stretches out its roots in the soil.
Page and Susannah began construction on The Free Cart, which will be a mobile cart to transport and present the free farm’s Saturday food giveaway.
We also had a group of five beautiful women transplanting newly sprouting seedlings into larger temporary home all day.
The outhouse also went through quite the transformation. What started out the day as just a bare structure, gained a colorful door (painted by Jason and Jamie), a window to allow for some ventilation near the roof, and half of a covered wall.
Lastly, for the past week John and his team have been working on remodeling and extending the plastic covering over the tomato plants and the new beds to their left.
That is all I can recall for the moment. I hope this gave you an update on how much we (the community and the farm) are growing each day. Yesterday confirmed for me how the beauty of the farm doesn’t just grow over night; it is planted, painted, transplanted, watered, cleaned, fed, built, and cared for with the hands and hearts of our volunteers each day. If you haven’t been by the farm in awhile, do yourself a favor and drop on by to see for yourself.
Until next time…
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I've been regularly volunteering at The Free Farm ever since my first experience there. Every week I'm lured in by the thoughts of getting my hands dirty, harvesting a bounty of beautiful produce, meeting new volunteers and enjoying a delicious home made vegan lunch.
This past Wednesday was my first day on the farm in a month and a half. I just returned from a bicycle journey along the Pacific Coast starting in Vancouver, British Columbia and finishing back home in San Francisco. The pedal powered tour was an opportunity for me to explore the northwest without relying on a fossil foolish machine. In addition to experiencing the stunning scenery and meeting wonderful people, I was able to visit a few food production projects along the way. In Olympia, Washington I spent an afternoon at GRuB (www.goodgrub.org), a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to nourishing a strong community by empowering people and growing good food. GRuB has an amazing youth education and employment program and a well-developed internship program with Evergreen State University. Last year they grew over 12,500 pounds of fresh produce at their farm and donated more than half of it to the Thurston County Food Bank and the farm volunteers. While taking a rest day in Arcata, California I stopped by Deep Seeded Farm (www.arcatacsa.com), a 2 year old farm which runs a 160 member Community Supported Agriculture program on only 4 acres. I was welcomed by a family style farm fresh lunch with Eddie, the head farmer, and 6 interns. We spent the meal discussing how to deal with snails and slugs in the garden.
Both GRuB and Deep Seeded Farm were full of positive energy and inspiring people, which made me miss The Free Farm even more. After only one day since returning from my bike tour, I visited The Free Farm eager to see how it had evolved and blossomed in the past month and a half. What a transformation! While I expected to be shocked and refreshed by the beauty of the farm, I was amazed by the bounty of food and dedication of the community. It was great to share smiles with old and new friends and as always lunch was superb! I can't wait to return on Saturday.
[this was sent to me by Carling...Tree]
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
25 incoming freshmen and 2 of their teachers from our neighbors at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep visited the Free Farm today. They did a tremendous service, cleaning up trash, weeding, potting up kale and mustard seedlings, and turning the compost pile. The students were from a summer Health and Nutrition Class. We closed the day (and their course) by silently walking the labyrinth, reflecting on a healthy intention for the rest of the summer. This summer 3 more groups from Sacred Heart will visit us, we can't wait!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It was great having their help and getting to meet them all, especially since we want to work more with our neighbors and schools. I think more Sacred Heart students are coming next Wednesday and Friday.
Also, Steve and Griff finished framing out the outhouse (maybe we need a better name for this structure which will serve to house our composting toilet...the Poo Palace?). There is a lot going on next Saturday June 19, but if you are interested in the subject of composting toilets consider attending our free workshop mentioned in a previous post below from 1-4pm.
I think we are still looking for bright primary colors of paint to paint the bulletin board Page built. And we have a bunch of other needs as well, like a big shed to store our tools and more gloves for volunteer hands.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Meet up at the Free Farm at the corner of Eddy and Gough in SF
end at Dirt Star - 6pm: African American Cultural Complex: 762 Fulton, SF - tix $12-20
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for bike tour- space will be limited
Western Addition, The Fillmore, Hayes Valley...
The names and borders of this area are ever changing and ever impacted by the whims of the wealthy and powerful in San Francisco. But it's rich history and robust resistance to marginalization and complete gentrification is alive and thriving. We will check out how some local queers are continuing those roots of resistance through their community DIRT PROJECTS! From Free Farms to Community Gardens - we will catch a glimpse of queers in dirty revolutionary action.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Date: June 19th
Time: 1pm - 4pm.
RSVP: Please send a brief email with the number of people coming to help Laura plan: email@example.com
For more info on composting toilets check out this video:
Monday, June 7, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
On Wednesday we had a smaller work force it seemed but we were mighty and a lot got done. Potatoes hilled up, compost turned, pumpkins potted up, Steve and Case framed out the outhouse for the composting toilet, and more work on the labyrinth was done (planting more beans and zucchini). We also added a bench donated from the Secret Garden that overlooks the farm and gives a close up view of the bees checking out the poppies.
This Saturday we will have a shorter work day, we are closing after lunch so some of us can hike over to Grace Cathedral to see our own Griff take another step towards becoming a priest. He will be ordained a transition deacon.
On Wednesday we can use all hands on deck as we get a 20 yard load of compost. We will also have 12 Metta Center volunteers helping out. It looks like the farm is shaping up for the summer!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
In case you haven't been able to stop by on Wednesdays because of your work schedule, we're keeping the farm open later during the summer. Starting in June, you can come by any time between 10am and 6:30pm to lend a hand. Whether you come to a workday on a Wednesday or a Saturday there are plenty of projects to get involved with. Come learn how to plant seeds, transplant starts, dig beds, thin seedlings, turn compost and harvest food. We would love to see you!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Despite the windy and blustery day, we had a wonderful workday at the farm. The cool weather made for a good day for planting, which we took advantage of, and created lavender hill in the labyrinth.
Jonathan, from Feel the Earth, came by and checked on the trays of seeds he supplied and there are lots of babies.
Thanks to Jonathan we not only have plenty of seedlings (for the farm and the stand, as well as the various gardens Jonathan supplies seedlings to), we now have a strawberry bowl that is going to be awesome once it takes hold. Speaking of strawberries, Strawberry Hill is coming along and producing lots of beautiful, and tasty, strawberries.
It was a bountiful day, as well, with 80 pounds of produce harvested (of course, Pancho had to munch a little as we worked). There were collard greens; Kohlrabi; lettuce, and 13 pounds of greens from our lettuce lawn! The lettuce lawn is a new concept to me, and I will have to try it again. In all, it was a lovely day, and once again, we gathered together and brought with us our love, and spirit of sharing, to produce beautiful, locally grown, organic produce.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
There is also plenty of work to do for aspiring urban farmers who want to help feed those in need.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Or, what about starting from the very beginning, and growing more food from scratch right here in the city? Even in cities as highly populated as San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, a surprisingly amount of arable land is still available. Just look at the Free Farm, which was started on a vacant lot at Gough and Eddy Streets in January of this year.
Pastor Megan Rohrer, a young Lutheran pastor who works with a variety of homeless communities around the city as the executive director of Welcome Ministry, wanted to expand the work she was doing, going from feeding the hungry of San Francisco to growing food for those same communities. The St. Paulus Lutheran church was willing to offer an empty lot it owned to her and a dedicated community of volunteers to make a garden.
Meanwhile Tree, a longtime food-justice activist and community gardener as well as the founder of the Mission's popular Free Farmstand, was looking for a place to grow more local food to supply the farmstand. Once Megan's church connections met Tree's gardening expertise, the Free Farm was born. With grants from the Mesa Foundation along with several local Episcopal and Lutheran churches, plus a whole lot of wheelbarrow-pushing volunteer labor, the weedy lot has undergone an astonishing transformation.
What was once a trash-strewn, needle-littered eyesore that neighbors called "The Pit" is now a welcoming, mural-lined space full of neatly mounded raised beds planted with salad mix, potatoes, beans, broccoli and lettuce. Bricks salvaged from the St. Paulus church (which stood on the space before burning down in 1995) now form strawberry beds on the hillside and a winding spiral bed planted with flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Cold frames and a newly built greenhouse are filled with trays of tiny seedlings, everything from kale to tomatoes to marigolds started from seeds donated by church communities across the country. Bright garden-themed murals by local artist Leanne C. Miller cover the concrete wall on the west side, and there are plans to bring more artists and sculptors into the garden to create site-specific works.
Volunteers get down and dirty every Wednesday and Saturday from 10am to 2pm, building infrastructure, hauling mulch, manure and compost, planting seedlings, waterings, and more. A volunteer-made vegan lunch, often featuring produce harvested from the garden, is shared by all. Volunteers will also share in the harvest, with excess supplying the Free Farmstand (Rohrer hopes to establish another neighborhood Free Farmstand on the site) as well as providing fresh local produce for twice-weekly homeless dinners organized by Welcome. (For more information on Welcome's additional garden projects around the Bay Area, go to Urban Share.)
Read the whole article and leave comments about the article at: KQED's Bay Area Bites Blog
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Each week, we have a group of volunteers who take the baby seedlings and put them into individual seedling trays so their roots can get strong enough to get planted in beds. Here are a few of the people who help sort some seedlings this week.
Lauren and Case, built some shelves from pallets so that we could fit more seedling trays in the green house.
Here are some photos of today's harvest
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
I thought it seemed like a good time to post some "then" and "now" photos of our progress so far. The "then" photos reflect what the lot looked like before we started work in mid-January (yes of this year! as in 3 months ago!), and the "now" photos are from the workday this past Wednesday. I wish I had pulled off the row cover on all the farm style beds because they are all really starting to pop with vegetables. Next post, I guess! Enjoy and thank you!