Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Breeze

Summer breeze
makes me feel fine
blowing through the jasmine in my mind

Sweet days of summer
the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up
and playing her tune

And I come home
from a hard day's work
and you're waiting there
not a care in the world
“Summer breeze” lyrics by James Seals & Dash Croft (Jed Madela cover)

Today’s Fillmore Jazz Festival nearby seemed to bring more foot traffic to The Free Farm, which offers a nice respite from the “hustling crowds” and “rat-race noise.” Check out these cool shots from our sunny workday.

Tree drills hole in plastic tube to make plant container
Container plant family
Purple power
Pancho watering thirsty plant
Kris watering thirsty flowers
Jason digging to reach pipes
Succulents & 3 turtle friends
Rafael has hands full of tools
Damon is Mr. Fix-it
Rafael's hands full again

Green thumbs at work
Pretty in pink
Eating for Summer

According to Chinese Medicine’s Five Element system, summer is associated with fire (element), red (color), joy/overexcitement (emotion), bitter (taste), and heart/small intestine (body organs).

Like permaculture, practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is like going back to the traditional ways of ordinary people so we can regain control of our own lives by working, or living in harmony, with nature – as our very lives depend on this Earth for survival.

In Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine, Harriet Beinfield explains that TCM views each of us as an ecosystem as well as living within one. In TCM, humans represent the juncture between Heaven and Earth so humanity cannot be separated from Nature—as we are Nature, manifest as people. By defining our whole being within the social and natural order, we foster the well-being of the whole Earth and all life upon it. Accordingly, TCM views the Doctor as Gardener: “When people are like gardens, then doctors are like gardeners. The role of the Chinese doctor is to cultivate life.”

One way of cultivating life is eating with the seasons, as food is medicine.

Summer’s fire element is characterized by yang heat, which calls for eating cooling foods like raw fruits (melons) and vegetables (cucumbers, though technically fruits) to offset the summer heat and to keep us hydrated in high temperatures. Other cooling foods include barley, millet, mung beans, soy beans, and summer squash. Light foods like leafy (bitter) greens are ideal, eaten raw/pickled, lightly steamed/blanched or quickly stir-fried. Drink cooling mint teas or spa water at room temperature.
Summer squash & zucchini
Sophie sorting summer harvest

In contrast, eating hot/heavy foods like fatty animal products (meat, dairy) and foods cooked at high temperatures (roast, grill, barbecue) will cause one to become overheated in the summer heat. Cooking in intense heat dries out food; once inside our digestive system, dry food will withdraw moisture from the body—resulting in extra work to digest and dehydration. High heat cooking methods that char/brown food create indigestible carbon particles, or form heterocyclic amines (HCAs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), acrylamides—all potentially carcinogenic. Does reading this inspire changing your July 4th BBQ plans?!

Eat red foods in season: apples, cherries, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, beetroot, radishes, tomatoes, aduki beans.

The heart is associated with joy, which comes from within and doing what we truly enjoy and believe in. Laughter is also healing to the heart and small intestine. Fire imbalances show up as lack of joy and even depression.

Bitter aids digestion which can help increase joy. (See

Fire (heart) is controlled by water (kidneys): if kidneys are too contracted (e.g., too much salt), blood pressure increases. (See

During summer’s longer days and warmer weather, you might feel increased energy so it’s tempting to be outdoors grilling, going out and full of activity – but doing too much can result in dehydration, stress of feeling run down or imbalance. To regain physical, mental and spiritual balance, cool down and join us in aerobic gardening at The Free Farm!

Gathering not quite a circle yet

The Free Farm Stand's manager Stanley sent this photo of our busy farm stand

Public Service Announcements:

Tues., July 5, 2011, 10 am-4:30 pm Conservatory of Flowers: Free Admission Day
100 John F Kennedy Drive, SF 94118
Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins

Wed., July 6, 2011 at 1:30-3:30 pm SF Food Security Task Force Meeting
City Hall - 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Rm. 278, SF 94102

Thurs., July 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time
Recreation Room, SF County Fair Building, 9th Ave. & Lincoln Way
Bay Area filmmakers Steve & Ann Dunsky will discuss their documentary about Aldo Leopold and his continuing influence on the environmental movement. Leopold is an icon among environmental heroes, and his Sand County Almanac is one of the most read and quoted by those awed and humbled by the forces of nature.

Sat., July 9, 2011 at 3-4 pm Learn the Art of Seeding
Visitacion Valley General Floor Area, 45 Leland Ave., SF
In this hands-on workshop, Jonathan Silverman, Founder and Managing Director of Feel the Earth, will teach children and their families how to grow a victory garden. Learn how seeds work, best ways to plant seeds, how to care for your seedlings, and begin to cultivate fresh produce or blossoms. A perfect introduction to the joys of gardening! For children of all ages.

Fri., July 15, 2011 at 10 am-12 noon
Garden Project - How Environmental Training is Being Integrated With Water Projects
San Bruno Jail, 1 Moreland Drive, San Bruno 94066
Reservation is needed - Limited to 50 people (Lunch provided)
Join us for a FREE behind the scenes tour of the 14 acre organic farm at San Bruno Jail which is part of a joint program of the San Francisco Water Power Sewer and the Sheriff’s Office. The tour will feature presentations by trainee participants on this innovative program, which is headquartered at San Bruno Jail, but which has job sites at several San Francisco Water Power Sewer Water System Improvements Program projects. Learn from the trainees how they evolve to Earth Stewards as they gain hands- on skills and what their plans are for their futures in the labor force. Lunch will be provided.
To make a reservation for this program and get detailed instructions for location, please contact Prentiss Jackson with San Francisco Water Power Sewer at (415) 554-3485 or email: Sponsored by SF PUC.

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