Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Free Farm Wants You

During yesterday’s workday, we were treated to a surprise visit by a group from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Seattle (! Youth Minister Maggie and her delightful dozen (9 youth, 3 adults) landed in San Francisco as part of their mission trip to explore hunger, food and care for the environment. On Friday, they volunteered at St. Gregory’s food pantry and took a Precita Eyes Murals tour in the Mission District. On Saturday, they spent the morning planting and harvesting at The Free Farm, while enjoying our own murals, before embarking on a trip to Alcatraz.
Planting peppermint

Chris points out that Eric is installing sprinkler system like
this completed sprinkler system on the opposite wall
We also have two interns from Stanford joining us this summer: Brittany, a junior majoring in urban studies and philosophy, will join us on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and Tim, a sophomore majoring in human biology, will be with us on Saturdays.
Chris & Brittany plant mango in greenhouse

3-week old braided garlic Damon & Kris as American Gothic hipsters Spinster daughter & farmer from original American Gothic
Volunteer group from St. Andrew Presbyterian
Tree & Byron discuss what to plant next Rafael harvests chard
Rafael uses water hose to wash chard

The LGBT Pride Celebration was taking place a few blocks away in the Civic Center Plaza so we had several visitors/volunteers coming and going throughout our workday. We have about a dozen regular volunteers, but some have been traveling during summer vacation . . . so it’s super cool and we’re so grateful to have visiting groups and individual volunteers help out. Antonio of Alemany Farm notes that most volunteers don’t want to become farmers, but appreciate the experience of working on a farm – even if only for a day.

I can relate to this perspective as I prefer the freedom of a low-maintenance lifestyle. The Free Farm schedules regular workdays twice a week, but several regular volunteers from the neighborhood come in on other days to do general maintenance such as watering plants. As much as I love nature, I’m still an urbanite who also loves the stimulation from attending talks, museums, historical walks, fairs/festivals (very busy from May to October!), reading, etc. I’ll consider homesteading for my retirement. In the meantime, The Free Farm gives me the perfect dose of communing with nature in the City.

Shoveling wood chips into wheel barrow. The smell of the wood chips reminded me of the eucalyptus trees from my college.
Eucalyptus forest in East Oakland
Looking up at maternal eucalyptus trees
Tree's friends bring over plastic tube

Eric & Eric (Eric squared?) ready to install sprinkler system

When I’ve had a rough week (like losing PC files needed for a project), being at The Free Farm helps me unwind – like “Up On the Roof” by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, so let’s sing-a-long:

When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it's peaceful as can be
And there the world below can't bother me
Let me tell you now
When I come home feelin' tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof)
On the roof, the only place I know . . .
Right smack dab in the middle of town
I've found a paradise that's trouble proof (up on the roof). . .
Everything is all right (up on the roof)

This blog was MIA for the past two weeks because I didn’t have access to my home computer. I really learned my lesson to go local, instead of relying on tech support in India and Philippines to troubleshoot my D--- PC, including four days to receive a hard drive that turned out to be incompatible :-(. Never mind the D--- warranty, I finally took my PC to a neighborhood technician who got my computer running again overnight! Yay, local! At the moment, I’m back in my pajamas posting this blog :-)

If you weren’t at The Free Farm two weeks ago, here are a few photos of our cleaning and sealing efforts to deal with a colony of rats and mice that were feasting on our organic seedlings and produce. Happy to report our efforts seem successful. (No photos from last week when I was MIA from The Free Farm because I was at a Garden For the Environment workshop.)
Friends visit Tree
Stanley between garlic braids & neat stack of wooden crates
Page & Margaret finished painting office
Hope you can come grow with us as there’s definitely room for more volunteers – even if it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you :-)!

Public service announcements:
Tues., June 28, 2011 at 7-9 pm
Fair Food: Growing a Healthy Sustainable Food System for All
Hub SoMa, 925 Mission St., SF
Celebrate the launch of Oran Hesterman’s new book, Fair Food: Growing a Healthy Sustainable Food System for All. This book is an enlightening and inspiring guide to changing not only what we eat, but also how food is grown, packaged, delivered, and sold.

Wed., June 29, 2011 at 6:15-7:45 pm
GREEN documentary film screening
100 Larkin St., SF Main Library, Lower Level, Koret Auditorium
Her name is GREEN, she is alone in a world that doesn’t belong to her. She is a female orangutan, victim of deforestation and resource exploitation. This film is an emotional journey with GREEN’s final days. With no narration, it is a visual ride presenting the devastating impacts of logging and land clearing for palm oil plantations, the choking haze created by rainforest fires and the tragic end of rainforest biodiversity. We watch the effects of consumerism and are faced with our personal accountability in the loss of the world’s rainforest treasures.
GREEN has won "Best of Festival" awards at the two most prestigious wildlife film festivals
in the world–Wildscreen and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. After the film, you'll have the chance to meet members of Rainforest Action Network's Forest Team and participate in a
Q&A with Bay Area changemakers tackling the issues presented in this film.

Coming up:
Sun., July 24, 2011
SF Refresh at The Free Farm

Food Day will be October 24 — in 2011 and in years to come.
Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life—parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.
Organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day will hopefully inspire Americans to hold thousands of events in schools, college campuses, houses of worship, and even in private homes aimed at fixing America’s food system and encourage Americans to “eat real”.
Find out more at

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