Saturday, February 4, 2012

Time in a bottle

Since I just show up on our Saturday volunteer days, last week’s Volunteer Appreciation Party gave me an opportunity to better know our extended family of volunteers from The Free Farm’s Wednesday and 1st Sunday of the month volunteer days, and Sunday’s Free Farm Stand. With well over 100 in attendance and a full program of entertainment, we didn’t have time for formal introductions so apologies if I didn’t identify everyone in the photos posted last week – but really appreciated your presence :-)!

One volunteer arrived to our party much later, apologizing for her “tardiness” (actually, no such thing as we mainly operate on a “drop in when you can” basis) and “embarrassment” because she went next door, offering to assist with party preparations and helped blow balloons until she found out they were for an Alcoholics Anonymous event! When I asked if I could share her story, she requested anonymity, but I think she represents the kind of open, friendly and helpful volunteers that come to The Free Farm (though I don’t think blown up balloons are helpful to our environment, per

Our party seemed to boost morale, which I think we needed after learning about Saint Paulus’ decision to sell The Free Farm site. We’re continuing with our usual gardening, construction (most of our built structures are actually portable) and community building activities, such as tomorrow’s tree planting for Tu B'Shvat (“The New Year of the Trees”). Nowadays when I’m at The Free Farm, it’s like “Time in a Bottle”:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them . . .
“Time in a Bottle” lyrics by Jim Croce
Big Picture High School adviser Tomas and Pearl cut up greens for compost pile, while Terence and Ro carry harvested greens.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting Ezekiel, a student at Big Picture High School, and his adviser Tomas. Two weeks ago, Ezekiel began his eight-hour per week internship at The Free Farm based on his interest in growing hot peppers! In addition to gardening at The Free Farm, Ezekiel will be contributing his fresh perspective to our blog – so thanks to Ezekiel, I’m looking forward to some relief from blogging homework soon :-)!
Daniel waters plants, while Stanley and her son Joe discuss plans with Tree for tomorrow's tree planting.
Damon defends himself against Kris' loppers.
Evan and Sander build compost pile while Princess Polly looks on.
Andrew waters thirsty plants in hothouse.
Broccoli flowers and lettuce lawn
Pearl brought pot of delicious curry veggies, while son Ro holds pot lid. I learned from proud mother Pearl that modest Ro is speaking against GMOs at next week’s Conscious Life Expo ( In addition, Pearl shared impressive information about Ro's starting their family’s vegetable garden that’s now one of the largest certified urban farms in East LA County (; his work with Vandana Shiva (wow!); and his website (which includes write-up about The Free Farm at With so many activities, including drumming at our party last week, thanks for making the time to volunteer with us, Ro!
Pearl, Tree and Ro serve gluten-free lunch: rice, yams, curry veggies and seaweed salad.
Quinn, Andrew and Terence enjoy lunch break. Terence went skiing in Tahoe last weekend, and returned to enjoy another warm, dry, sunny winter day at The Free Farm.
Terence and Page work on placing stakes to the ground for building a rail that will make it easier to walk down to our greenhouse. In the meantime, Andrew escorts Joyce up our slope.

Monisha greets The Free Farm stand visitors.
New volunteer Daniel learned about The Free Farm from SF Permaculture Guild. Monisha suggests making kale chips with today's harvest.
I was giving tour of The Free Farm to this couple from the neighborhood until they recognized friend Jordan who led the rest of the tour.
This is a view from our bench, from where we are planning to construct a raised table top garden bed that would allow easy wheelchair access and a 180 degree view of The Free Farm! (Ideas at
Tree with full tray of sunflower sprouts fresh from our greenhouse.
Hummingbird sage
As we were closing up The Free Farm stand, I spotted these bills in the bottom of our flower vase!

Thanks to everyone who came out to The Free Farm today -- made me want another Volunteer Appreciation Party :-)!

Public Service Announcements:

Wed., Feb. 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm Systems & Foodchain
CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission at 9th St., SF 94103
San Francisco artist and muralist Brian Barneclo is all about making connections. In his Systems and Foodchain murals, bold images in motion - almost like stills from a film - link natural and creative processes to show complex processes of interconnectivity.

Thurs., Feb. 9, 2012, 5:30-8 pm, Land Use Conversation with Artists
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley
Communities around the world have been broken apart by land development, the disappearance of tradition, and stark differences in values around land use. From farming and seed libraries to the livelihood of nomadic shepherds … what does “preservation” mean when it comes to tradition, land, and knowledge?
For this exhibition, the David Brower Center has commissioned the first collaboration between Amy Franceschini (San Francisco, CA) and Fernando García-Dory (Madrid, Spain). Franceschini and Garcia-Dory share artistic interests and approaches. Using social practice methods such as direct engagement with communities, they explore themes related to humankind's collaboration with the land. In particular, they are interested in how the development of contemporary cities has affected traditional land use such as farming and shepherding, as well as how such agrarian practices can exist within the contemporary world.
Both artists participate in and engage with contemporary practitioners of these pastoral or agricultural livelihoods. As part of their artistic practices, they learn and enable others to learn from farmers and shepherds who hold knowledge bases of their crafts passed down through generations. In doing so, they are fostering the preservation of tradition, knowledge and memory. Through major public events in urban environments, community gatherings, design, sculptures and social media, the artists have raised awareness of agrarian practices, as well as how they might be incorporated into contemporary society, politics and everyday life.

Thurs., Feb. 9, 2012, 7:30-9 pm SF’s Native Wildflowers
Randall Museum Theater, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco CA 94114
Margo Bors has been doing habitat restoration and documenting San Francisco's native plants and habitats for more than 15 years. She is an artist who has had numerous solo exhibitions in both art and photography, including several at the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture in Golden Gate Park.
Margo Bors has maintained a studio on Potrero Hill for many years. Her early art experience was as a muralist and founding member of Precita Eyes Muralists. Margo's art and interests have consistently centered on the natural world. She is active in the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), and as photo documentation chair of the CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter, she has had an opportunity to photograph a wide range of San Francisco's native wildflowers. She has over 300 images in the UC Digital Library and both her artwork and photographs have appeared extensively in publications of conservation groups from the Audubon Society to Bay Nature magazine. A sample of her art and photography can be seen at

Sat., Feb. 11, 2012, 4-7 pm, Our Land documentary screening
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley
Join the artists and the Greenhorns for a screening of OUR LAND, a documentary exploring the lives of America's young farming community – its spirit, practices, and needs. Stay for a dialogue and a spread of locally grown and collaged food.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome blog post!!!!! This is great...Thanks for posting Carmen!