Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the free cart!

Saturday, August 28-- a bountiful harvest at the Free Farm. Zucchinis, beans, tomatoes, yellow squash, broccoli side shoots, collards, and heads of lettuce were plentiful and abundant--we even heard from the odd strawberry, pea pod, mustard green, and arugula!

our tomatoes have been loving the warm weather...

We spent the morning harvesting, and after lunch "the cart libre" was out in all its colorful glory, and neighbors came to share in the bounty.

Signs of things to come...pumpkins are starting to form in our pumpkin patch...

lots of good leafy greens (bok choy, kale, and chard) growing strong in our temporary greenhouse...its all a big circle, from seed to harvest and back again...

Thanks to Kris for the lovely photos!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Farm life without our summer interns

Two of our fabulous interns are gone, at least for now, and Hannah and Case will be taking off soon. I already miss them all, they have become part of the Free Farm family. I have been so appreciative of all of their help and actually I have been appreciative of all the help we have been getting making this farm happen. It is truly a miracle when I think about the transformation this once pretty much barren lot has taken. There is so much more life here now. Yesterday I observed a hummingbird visitor checking out the hummingbird sage. Our visits from our neighbors who come by to chat also bring a community of life to the place. I am waiting for us to build more real soil and the micro life to flourish. It is also a blessing to share our produce with people in need and to see neighbors faces light up when you talk about collards and greens.
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.

Photo Gallery: Building the Free Farm, Jan 2010-Present

click the photo for gallery

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just a few of my favorite things

For those of you who don’t know, I have been interning at the Free Farm over the summer and unfortunately this is my last week here. To say the absolute least, being at the farm has been magical. In my last blog post I thought it would be appropriate to go through just some of my highlights.

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

Digging It!

Last Saturday at our workday there was a lot of digging that went on. Besides the two new terraces that were being finished, we had a great crew digging up the potatoes (53.5lbs). Then on Sunday the Temple Emanu-el crew was out doing some more shovel work, helping to create new beds. They come out to volunteer the first Sunday of the month.  Here are some great pictures taken on Saturday.

potato harvesters
from left to right Mountain Rose, Russian Banana, 
Nicola, Peruvian Purple, French Fingerling
rainbow of vegetables
vegetable swordfight with St. George runner bean 
and Purple Haze Carrot