Sunday, April 15, 2012

April showers bring spring fresh air

The past week’s rain and thunderstorm gave way to our big blue skies, clean green plants and crisp fresh air! And we enjoyed another warm, dry, sunny Saturday workday.Chris and Alexia pack transplants from our greenhouse to car for trip back to Alemany Farm. They reminded us to join them for their Earth Day potluck (see posting below for farm tour).

Earth Day was first observed by San Francisco, city of Saint Francis (patron saint of ecology), on the first day of Spring, March 21, 1970. A month later, a nationwide environmental teach-in was held on April 22, 1970, and Earth Day has been celebrated annually since then. Spring is a great time to do something positive and constructive like participating in Earth Day events. The anger emotion is associated with the spring season ( While there’s a lot of injustice to be angry about (like getting occupied with protests), I'm more inspired by the permaculture principle, “the problem is the solution” as we look to nature for design solutions—always mindful of permaculture ethics: People Care, Earth Care and Fair Share (Return of Surplus).
Tree chats with workday leader Ro while Mary harvests parsley in labyrinth areaClaire, Christina and Jenny transplantingIn hothouse, we pulled out arugula plants from roots to make way for planting tomatoes. We tore off leaves and flowers for our farmstand, while leaving behind stems for compost. Greenhouse and hothouse are for speeding up plant growth—not for human habitation.Even with door and windows open in the hothouse, the air inside felt stagnant and I just really wanted to enjoy the fresh air + sun outdoors so I took arugula harvest over to our entrance to enlist Joyce's help in separating plant parts . . . and soon Stanley and Damon came over to join us!At the end of the day, our arugula harvest was so great that we gave away whole arugula plants with leaves, flowers, stems and roots intact – quite an experience for some who had no idea what the whole plant looked like and the labor involved in “processing.” I’m looking forward to next week when we begin constructing our garden table top so we can involve more visitors in growing food!Ro, Stanley and I contributed to potluck lunch.I tossed corn pasta with cancer-preventing GOMBBS (Green broccoli + Onions + Mushrooms + red Beans + goji Berries + sesame Seeds), e.v.o.o. + garlic + red wine vinegar.Drinking cups are missing so Claire drinks juice from bowl as Sander and Tree look on.Jason and Ro are high school classmates who both went to Cal. Go bears!Welcome Ryan and Rachel, our newest volunteers from the neighborhood!
When I mentioned to Pam (wearing shirt that reads, “Too tough to die”) that she looks like she’s separated at birth from Anna Wintour, the stylish Vogue editor, Pam told me she learned style after appearing on "What Not to Wear"(! Here Pam checks on her dye plants: madder (roots make red color), weld (flowers and stalk make yellow; Erik picked up packet of weld seeds from Finney Farm) and woad (indigo blue).Netting fence for tomatoesTree places hoops to the ground
Leo meets up with Jenny at end of workday. Leo said he went to school at The Free Farm site when it was Saint Paulus!After our workday, I joined Leo and Jenny to nearby Japantown for Cherry Blossom Festival, which included Ikebana (flower arrangement) demo and exhibit. Jenny completed her floristry certificate before studying horticulture.I attended tea ceremony drinking matcha from this bowl . . .similar to what we do at The Free Farm!

Public Service Announcements

Sun., Apr. 15 to 22, 2012 California Native Plant Week
From the Coast Redwood to the California Poppy, California’s nearly 6,000 native plants are special. Each is perfectly adapted to grow in one or more of the diverse habitats in our Golden State: coastal bluff or oak woodland, mountain slope or forest floor and many more.
Native plants represent the quintessential choice for sustainable, ecologically sound and easy-to-maintain gardens. They can flourish with minimal irrigation beyond rainfall and require little or no fertilizer, pesticides or pruning.
Celebrate California’s lovely, useful and important native plants during the third week of April. Visit a local botanical garden or arboretum. Talk to an expert at a native plant nursery. Take a walk in a preserve. Join a native garden tour ( Volunteer in a park cleanup. Attend a workshop. Take a botany class. Plant a native! For a complete list of local events, activities and more information on California native plants, see Greg Gaar's native plants in his low-maintenance front yard
Greg Gaar's native plants in low-maintenance backyard. Check out "Native in My Backyard" video featuring Greg at

Tues., Apr. 17, 2012, 5-6:30 pm Food Justice Community Convening
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC), Community Room, 201 Eddy St., SF 94102
TNDC’s food justice campaign is holding a Food Justice Community meeting.

Sun., Apr. 22, 2012, 10 am–6 pm Celebrate Earth Day
Civic Center Plaza, SF
Free eco-event for everyone! Live music, workshops, speakers, art. At Permaculture Village, co-create our Earth Day Signature Earth Mandala, build a cob oven, and join in on other workshops including Aquaponics-in-Action, creating your "Urban-Garden", mushroom harvesting, creating a rooftop garden, graywater demos, making your own solar oven, eco-architecture and sustainable agriculture classes, seed-sharing, backyard beekeeping and lots more! Also learn about fair wage for migrant workers. Expert speakers and classes will continue throughout the day.

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