Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rainy Workday

This past Saturday the 23rd we had our weekly 10am - 2pm workday. I saw some familiar faces and met new friends too. As we establish our presence at the site by showing up regularly, weed-whacking, and organizing supplies people living nearby will stroll in to talk about the project and even come back to lend a hand.

The weather's been rainy on and off for the past two weeks. From the beginning of the day a steady mist fell on the farm. It wasn't heavy enough to warrant packing it in, so we loaded shovelful-after-shovelful of dirt into wheelbarrows, careful footing on the gravel decline, delivering our earthy cargo to the low-side of the lot to build a ramp for access into the larger farm. Scraping dirt to level a hill near the entrance of the lot will provide space for a demonstration garden to show folks what can be grown seasonally, and we can teach how to do it.

We broke for an early lunch generously provided by Tree, served up by Page. It's worth paying attention to how a gesture like thinking a head to make a meal for volunteers can communicate genuine appreciation and care. Believe me, on a cold, drizzly day of shoveling dirt, warm soup is no small thing. Thanks, Tree!

While the precipitation was only annoying at first it picked up and left me and the other volunteers drenched! The dirt we were moving to create an access ramp turned to lead in our wheelbarrows. Before finally giving in to the rain, Page and I staked out two long planting beds giving the area the look of a real garden, while Pastor Megan relentlessly tamped the loose soil into solid ramp-form. When the rain began to drive and hope that it might just pass left us, we all scrambled to put our supplies back in the shed, lock down the wheelbarrows, and tidy up before getting out. It was around the time that the last shovels and rakes were safely returned to their places that the clouds burned off and the sun finally broke out. Figures.

For all our effort, we did successfully complete leveling the hill up front for a demonstration garden and our ramp is looking good! Our next step is to stake out the rest of the lot for planting beds and get truckloads of manure brought in to amend the soil. Turns out the soil in this part of town is sand. My hope is that by this upcoming Saturday we'll be working manure into the soil to make it suitable for growing food. I've never been this excited by horse poop. If you or any of your friends have access to material we can use for stakes I'd appreciate it greatly if you could send it along. Or, if you want a part in turning a vacant lot into a food-growing space come out and join us at Eddy and Gough from 10am - 2pm this Saturday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Our Saturday the 16th Workday!

Hello Friends of the Garden!

This last Saturday workday was quite a day. Not getting
rained out was a big plus! We started early with two volunteers coming in before the official 10 o'clock start time. That's a serious go-getter attitude.

A lot of our gathered materials had been left near the front of the site making our space look haphazard. We hauled the lumber, pallets, and odds n' ends down to be sorted, stacked, and organized. It wasn't long before our helter skelter piles of materials started looking like they were supposed to be there. This lot has been left unattended for years so getting it in shape can be a big job; trash has collected, weeds have sprung up all over, but we're starting to show the space the love it deserves. This is the part in the movie where the nerdy abandoned lot with box frame glasses, using a pencil to hold its hair in a bun gets a make over. "Oh my God, St. Paulus, you're simply breathtaking!" The lot really is beautiful. We've run a gas-powered weed eater through the area which not only makes the grounds look better kempt but those small clippings can also be layer with manure to mature it, leading to food for plants! Even manure's gotta grow up some time.

A lot of sweat and time was spent in creating a foot-path ramp to allow easier access into the large farm space. We loaded down wheelbarrows with dirt from the site and slowly built up our ramp. There's more work to be done there, but in one day we got so far! We have a two-fold plan for the ramp. First, we take dirt from a large hill and use that dirt to create the ramp. Second, while removing the dirt we level off the hill in order to make a clean area for a demonstration garden near the front. In the future we'll show folks in the demo garden what can be grown at certain times of the year and use it as an opportunity for gardening education. I think everyone in the project is excited to share our knowledge, experience, failures, and successes with others interested in growing their own food in the city.

Pastor Megan spent a lot of time finishing a beautiful tool shed to house our tools in! Hooray for not having to carry things from an overcrowded Pastor's office to garden and back! That was seriously cramping my style. After this Saturday workday the shed is sporting a sassy new coat of light blue paint. We're trying to teach this gray San Francisco sky what it should be doing. Doesn't seem to be listening.

Throughout the day there were lots of folks walking past stopping in to talk. You wouldn't believe how many gardeners there are in one block of the city. There are plenty of helping hands to be found. Four volunteers on Saturday (including yours truly) were Lutheran Volunteer Corps members (Thanks Margaret, Troy and Katie!), two volunteers were from just down the street, two more volunteers heard about the workday through Tree, and two more volunteers heard about the workday through Pastor Megan. Word gets around!

That's the news from the farm this week. I hope to see you out there Saturday from 10am -
2pm! Don't forget to bring a friend!