After reading Tree’s “Almost Speechless” posting on Monday at http://freefarmstand.org/2011/03/28/1453/, I reflected on his remarks about “I had to keep reminding myself that we are mainly trying to promote a network of produce sharing among gardeners and that we are not just a food give away program. . . . It is hard for me though, something in my wiring, that I just want to help everyone that needs food get it.”
Caring persons like Tree who make up The Free Farm community keep me returning as a volunteer. Food is such a basic need like clean air, water and sleep – that we all should be looking after one another to give what we can to ensure everyone’s basic needs are met.
When I’m at The Free Farm stand on Saturdays, I enjoy conversations with visitors to find out where they’re coming from and to share my enthusiasm about the joys of growing and eating your own food. Based on my experience, the poor and homeless take only what they can carry and eat within the same day. Some visitors come from neighboring Tenderloin District’s single-room occupancy (SRO) units without any facilities for cooking and refrigeration. I usually suggest ways to prepare raw salads with our fresh herbs and lemon juice. (Tenderloin neighborhood made national news this week after PETA suggested renaming it Tempeh District at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?entry_id=86001&tsp=1. Many District residents probably don’t even eat much tenderloin or tempeh.)
Unfortunately, I once encountered a woman who ran up to our farm stand to stuff her large shopping bag with our entire harvest of chard for the day, without even a word of “hello” or “thank you”; when I politely requested that she please leave some chard for others to enjoy, she ran away while shouting, “I’m stealing!” Instead of leaving me speechless, I asked out loud to the other visitors, Is it possible to steal food that’s free? But I silently wondered if she was taking so much to feed a large family for dinner or was she hoarding for a week’s supply? Well, never a dull moment here at The Free Farm!
Tree also mentioned the City’s intention to sell a portion of Hayes Valley Farm, once-vacant land since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the former freeway onramp, which broke ground at about the same time as The Free Farm last year. When I learned details about this from my SF Permaculture Guild friends, I thought how vulnerable we –even a farm community —are to homelessness, and then immediately felt the utmost gratitude to the St. Paulus community for each day that they are generously sharing their former Church space with The Free Farm. I often think of The Free Farm as The Giving Farm based on Luke 12:48: “Indeed, everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him.” My Getup classmate Stanley mentioned that she feels like The Free Farm is her congregation, which she religiously attends on Saturdays to harvest and manage our farm stand.
2 out of 3 Sisters: Tree explains planting squash spaced 15” apart in the rows of last Saturday’s harvested fava plants. The ancient Maya planted corn + beans + squash as companion crops, also known as 3 Sisters. Corn (a heavy feeder that takes a lot of nitrogen out of the soil) is planted first; beans (which fix nitrogen in the soil) grow up the corn stalks; squash (which have large leaves and vines) provide ground cover (to stop weeds) & shade over the soil (to retain moisture). 3 Sister crops are nutritionally complementary: corn lacks amino acids lysine & tryptophan, which the body needs to make proteins & niacin; beans have both lysine & tryptophan; & squashes provide an array of vitamins. We're missing corn sister in this bed. Evan & Byron chop up materials to speed up decomposition in building new compost pile. That's horse manure mixed with sawdust in wheelbarrow.
Filmmaker Isabel continues shooting interviews for her documentary. Byron tells camera that farming's natural for him because he's originally from Hawaii.
Shoveling finished compost for planting
Growing potato tower
Spacing plants in hot greenhouse
These plant whisperers caught my attention so I interrupt their planting to get permission for this photo
Planting with care
Reflecting on farmers & farm workers who feed us
Measured out 15" to dig hole with trowel for planting squash. We uprooted any fava plants in the way, tossing them as greens (nitrogen) into compost pile after each layer of browns (carbon) & manure. Flipped squash plant upside down from container & sprinkled mycorrhizae on roots Placed plant right side up in dugged out hole
Mixed in compost teeming with mesophilic bacteria, fungi & earthworms!Ready to water & grow squash Blue tarp covers new compost pile