Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fasting teens volunteer to combat hunger

Volunteering at The Free Farm reminds me of my elementary school days, being in an open classroom and just going to wherever my curiosity takes me. Tree plans our workdays so we’re always buzzing with interesting activities, much like being part of a start-up venture, and meeting so many cool people!

Today, I met the coolest, admirable group of teens from Alameda's Christ Episcopal Church. They were participating in World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine, by fasting and volunteering at The Free Farm. They began their fast at noon the prior day, yet still had energy to perform farming tasks (as shown in the photos posted below), including harvesting in the rain!
Converting window blind slats into plant signs
Transporting dirt from greenhouse to pipeline ditch
Pulling weeds from container plants
Shoveling dirt to cover pipeline ditch
Adding potting soil to containers
Shoveling dirt off ground inside greenhouse
Transporting new shelf to store seeds
Passing plants to weeding group
Tree places plant over mycorrhizae in container
Preparing fish emulsion mix
Tree shows how to pour fish emulsion mix to base of plants
Filling buckets with rainwater
These boots were made for catching rainwater!
Harvesting in the rain
They also impressed me with their willpower when they resisted Kris’ delicious chili quinoa and chips. While eating lunch, Kris told me about meeting Warren Beatty during her Hollywood days; now how cool is that?! More people might be inspired to go into farming if they saw Warren Beatty playing Bud Stamper—probably the most irresistible farmer portrayed in film! Check out “Splendor in the Grass” DVD at
Warren Beatty as farmer Bud Stamper in "Splendor in the Grass"
Kris brought chili quinoa with chips for lunch

At times, the teens said they were starving and their chaperones reminded them that they were only hungry, not starving. The teens told me that they also participate in 10-day trips during the summer to build schools in El Salvador, where they witness real starvation. They also told me how much they were looking forward to breaking the fast at 6 pm with their favorite foods.

Tree collects rainwater for plants
Planting and labeling seed starts
Planting beans
Sipping hot water to stay warm Tree with terrific teen volunteers

Tree thanks volunteers
With about 25 energetic teens and their chaperones helping out, we accomplished a lot. I was so grateful for their generosity of time, work ethic and sense of fun, and I felt their personalities warmed up an otherwise chilly, rainy day. At The Free Farm, we like to share our hospitality so I invited them to return next week for lunch, scheduled to be prepared by professional chef Alena—of Scharffenberger chocolate chip cookie fame from our MLK Day of Service. Imagine how much more we can accomplish after being nourished with food! When these amazing teens told me they already had plans for another outreach event, I told them they were always welcome to return on any of our workdays—and to bring more friends! And I extend the same invite to you blog readers!
Tree sets up sprinkler system
After 4-hour workday
Pile of compost for another workday
The world is like an open classroom so I’d like to share some local resources to those interested in getting more involved in building local food security by growing edible plants. In fact, I missed last Saturday’s workday because of my involvement with Garden For the Environment ( and Permaculture SF (

While attending last week’s GFE workshop, Executive Director Blair Randall gave me the scoop on GFE’s exciting new membership program, featuring discounts to garden shops and even Arizmendi Bakery, so come to the membership launch party at GFE, 7th Ave. & Lawton, on Sat., Mar. 19 at 3 pm. (Blair’s photography appears in SFPUC’s 2011 Gardening Calendar, still available free at

I also joined Permaculture SF and Transition SF for a work party to prepare for our new Seed Library at

The SF Food Security Task Force’s “Hunger and Food Insecurity On the Rise in San Francisco” report dated November 2010 ( mentions “the thriving urban agriculture community in San Francisco has also contributed over 17,000 lbs. of fresh produce and honey to needy San Franciscans in 2010.”

Join us for our next open classroom at The Free Farm to help combat local hunger and food insecurity! Fasting not necessary:-)

1 comment:

  1. Great post, thanks for all the links. And the plug. It'll try to live up to the chocolate chip cookie fame. :)