Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food Justice

Public Service Announcements:

Wed., Nov. 2, 2011, 1:30–3:30 pm, SF Food Security Task Force
City Hall - 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Rm. 278, SF

Fri., Nov. 4 – Tues., Nov. 8, 2011 Food Justice Community Events in Oakland

Sat., Nov. 5, 2011, 6:30-9 pm Food Movements Unite!
Pro Arts Gallery, 150 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland 94612
Food First celebrates 35 years of fighting the injustices that cause hunger with the release of a groundbreaking new book, Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform Our Food Systems. Joining us will be many of the book’s authors including Food First fellows Raj Patel and Brahm Ahmadi, as well as Slow Food’s Josh Viertel, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Lucas Benitez, Crossroad Center’s Ken Meter and one of Food First’s newest board members, Rosalinda Guillén of Community to Community. They will share their visions of what we can do to unite our diverse food movements into a force powerful enough to transform our food system.
If just seeing this stellar cast of world changers isn’t enough to pique your interest in participating, please visit for a sampling of some of the ideas presented in this exciting new Food First book.
RSVP to: or call 510-654-4400 ext 234.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Free Farm keeps flourishing

In case you missed last Saturday’s volunteer day (like I did to attend a Disability Awareness Month workshop), Hannah sent this wonderful write-up and photos so we can vicariously experience or re-live the sunny day outdoors!

Even though the days are getting shorter, all the sunshine and warmth lets the Free Farm to keep flourishing, especially, this week, the lettuce. Using two washing stations and having dedicated volunteers made getting all the bins of lettuce ready to be given away possible.

Meanwhile, the bean vines came down, and the beds are ready for something new. According to Tree, the goal is to put in something from a different plant family, so the soil gets different nutrients. Carrots, maybe? Here's Nicki holding the last of the purple beans. We had 26 volunteers this week, including 6 Stanford students. Little City Garden gave us the lettuce for a gorgeous salad that helped feed everyone and its always wonderful to be able to share in the bounty from other urban gardens.

Happily, our greet, Joyce, was back to greet everyone, sporting a fabulous hat, and Tom picked a beautiful kale bouquet.

Tree gave a workshop on building potato towers, which let you grow potatoes in large containers, perfect for urban gardening. One more note: St. Paulus Church, which donates the land and water for the Free Farm, has had a generous offer from a developer. The church is supportive of the Free Farm's work and also realizes that selling the lot will give them proceeds they can use for other programs. The church is still considering what the best decision is. For now, let's send a message out to the universe for some guidance about the future of the free farm. Updates to follow.

For those of you interested in more info about the Free Farm, here's a link to a recent article, written by Valerie, our tireless schedule coordinator:

From Hannah

Public Service Announcements:

Mon., Oct. 24, 2011 Food Day events in SF

Sat., Oct. 29 – Sun., Nov. 6, 2011 Bay Area Science Festival

Sunday, October 16, 2011

iBlog for The Free Farm

Photo taken at Occupy SF on Friday

Now almost a month since Occupy Wall Street and Occupy SF began, these movements are based on consensus and remain leaderless, which may be frustrating to some accustomed to conventional accountability (like Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman).

As an all-volunteer group like the Occupy groups, The Free Farm gets things done by consensus, which involves anyone who shows up during our volunteer days and meetings. We also get things done regardless of what nature hands to us – like the unexpected downpour of rain on our uncovered compost pile that turned anaerobic last week. Some plant leaves turned yellow indicating over-watering, but we’re still harvesting lots of Hecka Local produce!

Sometimes The Free Farm gets neglected like my recent 3-week absence from blogging. But hey, I made up for it with 3 separate postings last weekend, plus a bonus this past Thursday! Though I provide advance notice and request for volunteer bloggers during planned absences, it can be hit-or-miss if a substitute comes through. I even prepared the following template:

“During today’s workday, ___ volunteers showed up to plant/weed/water/compost. We harvested __ pounds of produce, which included _________. The weather was ________ and we enjoyed lunch (outdoors/indoors). At our farm stand, we gave away __ pounds of produce to __ visitors.”

At yesterday's volunteer day, The Free Farm hosted 20 Stanford students from Margaret’s Food & Community service learning class. Our summer intern Brittany returned with her classmates and Pancho led guided tour.Planting garlicHarvesting beans
Tom harvests basil in greenhouse
Stanford group walks labyrinth
Kris deadheading spent sunflowers
Tomato harvest
Preparing to plant artichokes
Tree points out plants that need pruning
Quick learner shows pruning technique
Jerusalem artichoke harvest
Claire holds up elephant garlic to be planted
When experienced gardener and first-time visitor Sam arrived, we invited him to join tour with Stanford group but he chose to get dirty immediately. Here, he harvests collard greens.
Harvesting kale outside hothouse
Glorious green

As we go about our farming activities, it’s rather un-eventful so I was surprised to hear a few blog readers missed the weekly postings. While I miss being present in The Free Farm (great place to chill out because it’s un-eventful), I don’t miss blogging at all but enjoy the freedom of being off-the-grid. According to my acupuncturist, the difference is being in nature (The Free Farm) supports the flow of my qi (energy), while artificial EMF (electromagnetic fields from electronics) pollution drains qi.

Logging on to blogger to upload photos with my slow internet connection is tedious because just looking at a computer screen tires out my eyes so I usually have to blast some rock music to keep me awake (neighbor, forgive my trespass) – hence, the occasional song lyrics pop up in my postings. Today I liked listening to this one-hit wonder:

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie
“Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” lyrics by Norman Dolph

SF Newbies Sam & Bekah
Alena signals lunchtime
Margaret brought chili & salad for lunch
Hecka Local Produce
Margaret & Tree set-up produce stand
Sander rinses veggies & Mike plants veggies

My relatives and friends who really know me find it amusing that I’m coordinating this blog (which was assigned to me for my Getup service). After all, I’m low-maintenance, but technology demands maintenance so I limit online time and I don’t even own a TV, cell phone, Kindle, car, etc. I won an iPod, but have never used it. I crave privacy, so I don’t belong to any social networking sites.

But recently, to raise more awareness of GMO’s threat to organic food production, I felt the urge to blog about recent events regarding the risks of GMOs and need for GMO labeling so consumers can make informed choices – an important public health issue that has been largely ignored by mainstream media.

Adding to newest compost pile
Shoveling horse manure

K says "weeding is therapeutic"
Tree with latest farm tool
Green tomatoes
Busy farm stand

Anyway, life happens and we all have other responsibilities, obligations and distractions beyond The Free Farm. But it would be awesome to see more returning volunteers become regulars and take on coordinator roles. Since we are based on a sharing economy, we don’t “pass the buck” but volunteers help make things happen so let’s Occupy the Food System with our Hecka Local produce!

Happy faces of volunteers along with our uncommonly beautiful plants always brighten this blog . . . so unplug and come grow with us soon! We appreciate all your support!

Wrenn samples pineapple guava
Happy faces always welcome!

Public Service Announcements:

Mon., Oct 17, 2011, 4-6 pm Biological Science Literacy
Greenhouse Café, 1722 Taraval St., SF
Biological Science: Application to Ecosystems, Biological Adaptation, and Genetically Modified (GM) Crops. Offered through Free University of SF, 5-week class taught by Barbara-Ann Lewis. Email

Tues., Oct. 18, 2011, 6:30 pm Seeding the Future
@ internet archive, 300 Funston St, SF
seeding the future: a town hall meeting for small scale agriculture. featuring a fall harvest potluck, screening of the greenhorns, and roundtable discussion.
debate and collaborate on 2012 farm bill action strategies, decentralized food production, and new strategies for urban farming. music by ed masuga and friends. panelists: Severine Von Tscharner Fleming, Director, The Greenhorns; Rick Prelinger, Founder, Prelinger Archives; Ned Conwell, Farmer, Pescadero, CA; Ed Garrett, Found of Fresh Spin Farms, Davis, CA

Thurs., Oct. 20, 2011, 7:30 pm Keeping Nature in the City
Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, SF
Nature in the City’s founder Peter Brastow shares his vision of how we can more meaningfully interact with the wild in our city: restoring natural areas in our neighborhoods and backyards and through projects like the Twin Peaks Bioregional Park and the Green Hairstreak Corridor. Peter Brastow founded Nature in the City in 2005 with the idea of connecting urban people to where we live. Doing this would help the growing movement to conserve San Francisco’s natural areas and biodiversity, helping to carry ecological restoration and stewardship further. Peter had previously served as the Presidio’s National Park Service Ecological Restoration Specialist.

Sun., Oct. 23, 2011, 2-5 pm Community Open House of Aldea Center on Mount Sutro
155 Johnstone at Medical Center Way, SF
Learn more about ongoing open space programs in the UCSF Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. Hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served. A brief walking tour of Rotary Meadow and the Aldea seed propagation area will depart at 3 PM.

Mon., Oct. 24, 2011, 1-6:30pm Food Deserts: Legal, Social and Public Health Challenges
Hastings College of Law, 198 McAllister, Louis B. Mayer Room, SF
Two Panel Discussions:
1. Nourishing our Neighborhoods: Insights from Law, Planning, and Industry (moderated by Hilary Seligman)
2. Food and Nutrition in Correctional Institutions (moderated by Brie Williams)
Keynote Address: David Kessler, JD, MD, Former Commissioner of the FDA and UCSF Dean and Vice-Chancellor
This conference will address medical, legal and political challenges of food scarcity and food insecurity, and highlight how medicine, law and politics come together to influence a critical topic in public health.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy the Food System: Farmers & Eaters Unite!

The occupation continues with Occupy Wall Street, Occupy SF and now Occupy the Food System (!
As a follow-up to Justice Begins with Seeds conference, California Biosafety Alliance held a press conference at SF City Hall's entrance for the West Coach launch of A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)-False Promises, Failed Technologies.
Supervisor David Campos came out of a Committee meeting to announce that Supervisor Eric Mar planned to propose a resolution to support GMO labeling at next Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.
Debbie Barker, Center for Food Safety's International Program Director, holds up a copy of the Report that she helped coordinate with Navdanya's Vandana Shiva & Caroline Lockhart.
Pesticide Action Network's Senior Scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman reminded us that GMOs have failed to deliver on promises of higher yields to feed the world. She criticized the corporate influence on public agencies--the so-called revolving door of biotech execs who continue to represent corporate interests when they work at public agencies. Marcia said the solutions are in the Right2Know movement and agroecological practices.
Biosafety Alliance co-founders Miguel Robles & Karen Swift invite the public to the evening's panel presentation of the Report. They also invite us to the West Coast Right2Know March from San Francisco to Sacramento, beginning Friday in SF to deliver the Reports to Mayors in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and then reaching Sacramento on Monday to deliver Reports to Gov. Jerry Brown & Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
We are the 99% demonstrator & SF police in audience
Our Right to Know ( is a 2012 ballot initiative campaign.
UC Berkeley Professors Ignacio Chapela (substituting for Vandana Shiva who was too ill to travel) & Miguel Altieri and Debbie Barker are panelists seated beside Supervisor Eric Mar who supports GMO labeling. Eric really cares about what we eat from healthier Happy Meals to non-GMO foods!
Posters of Report cover & Occupy the Food System In Farmers We Trust
Jeri from Kauai wearing No GMO My Taro (skull face in place of roots) T-shirt