Saturday, May 19, 2012


It’s so nice to see familiar faces out in the crowd
It’s so nice to see friends of mine enjoyin’ themselves
And everybody get happy ‘cause

(Chorus) We can work it out
We are friends, we are friends

And I remember when I was down and out
I remember when you said friend
Hey what’s your name
Getting off on each other . . . (chorus)

Feelings are getting strong
You feel like you belong
Closeness you can feel
Smiles that are real
We are friends

If you feel like singing with us, sing out loud
It will make you feel good just to sing right out
Be a part of it all ‘cause . . . (chorus)
“Friends” by Cecilio & Kapono

Today we shared a warm, dry, sunny Saturday workday at The Free Farm (TFF) with our super cool friends from Alemany Farm’s Ecological Horticulture Apprenticeship Program ( and City College of SF’s Nutrition Program (

I was happy and inspired to see our visiting friends because they’re especially thoughtful professionals who do tremendous work in making SF more food secure with their educational programs and outreach work. Perhaps because Alemany Farm and CCSF receive government support (i.e., our tax dollars), they really make efforts to address the needs of underserved populations. For example, Alemany provides training and fresh produce to neighboring public housing residents. Registered dietitians (RDs) at CCSF teach free health classes in nutrition/cooking/physical activity/safety at more than 40 sites in the City, delivering the bulk of required nutrition ed classes at senior congregate meal sites, and provide excellent training for public health nutrition educators.
Getup grads ( Antonio ( and Jason ( co-teach propagation methods as part of Alemany program.
Guerilla Grafter Tara (who previously appeared at stopped by to visit Tree.
Jason teaches sex, as in seed propagation (important for variability,, in greenhouse which provides warm temp for germination.
Antonio demonstrates asexual propagation, or cutting from stems of tree collards, which delivers uniform and predictable product, or “clone” of parent.

Local community engagement
When I asked Antonio about the new farm project he’s getting started near SF Food Bank (, he explained that the project of food growing and sharing is intended to benefit Food Bank’s neighbors in Potrero Hill public housing rather than the general public to drop-in.

Ideally, SF would have an urban farm in every square mile ( so check out Getup classmate Eli’s work in making this happen ( Appendix II, on pages 34 and 35, lists Public Land Identified as Potential Sites for Urban Agriculture in SF). The communally managed model, like Alemany and TFF (discussed in my posting at, makes urban farming more accessible when government/nonprofit groups convert vacant lots to urban farms, by providing land and utilities without cost on the condition that all activities remain free including skill sharing and giving away produce.

My public health education instructor Susana emphasizes the need to engage community residents who represent the cultural/language diversity of the neighborhood; as an example, she told us about Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation ( holding a Food Justice Community Convening last month to really understand the community’s concerns. When I mentioned to Susana that TFF would welcome residents from neighboring Tenderloin to crossover Van Ness corridor to join us during our workdays and/or visit Saturday farmstand, Susana responded that I should reach out to TNDC myself. In addition to Tenderloin, I learned that SF’s other most food insecure neighborhoods are Bayview, Visitacion Valley, and South of Market. (Susana includes urban agriculture in her talk about creating a healthy eating environment at

Perhaps because we do little outreach and our downhill terrain discourages entry by persons with mobility issues in the neighborhood, we might have a dozen volunteers from the neighborhood and our Saturday farmstand attracts about a dozen visitors (mostly from the neighborhood) so the bulk of our produce goes over to Mission District’s Free Farmstand the next day.

Last year, during a discussion on how best to spend a grant award and in response to one proposal to purchase BART tickets for volunteers coming from the East Bay, someone suggested that we invest more in building relationships with neighbors surrounding TFF. Consensus: no BART tickets, but also no action on TFF neighborhood outreach (which wouldn’t need to involve spending grant award). We might have good intentions, but so much to do and so little time! With little meaningful interaction, will neighbors miss TFF when it’s replaced? Most people learn about TFF through word-of-mouth or passing by our site.
What we do best: getting dirty!
Jenny brought her own paints to add colors to our garden table
Antonio continues with cuttings
Tree collard cuttings in rooting medium
Art teacher Stanley gives thumbs up as Jessica, Jenny and Wendy add finishing touches to our garden table.
Free Farmer Christina and Alemany Farmers brought lunch. Due to Damon’s no-show, I won Real Food Bake-off by default with my chocolate chip coconut (sugar replacement) oatmeal with China rose bud cookies (also made with whole wheat, organic eggs and butter)!

Public health dietitians who also garden!
When I began my formal nutrition studies, I enrolled in a Holistic Nutrition program in Berkeley. I learned about traditional foodways, which included expensive ingredients (always organic, if available) and time-consuming preparation methods (soaking, sprouting, slow cooking). Because I was attending a private non-profit, it was like attending my private, liberal arts women’s college—though there were two men in my graduating nutrition class.

Concerned that I was turning into an elitist foodie, I called CCSF Consumer Education Chair May (who is RD with MPH) to find out about her department’s nutrition classes, though it was mid-semester. Because I live in the Richmond District, she suggested that I attend a free, non-credit nutrition class at Golden Gate Park Senior Center. After explaining that I wasn’t even a senior, May told me the nutrition classes are open to the public and I would enjoy Lisa’s “lively” class. Well, I took her advice and am eternally grateful to May because Lisa’s classes, which covered community food security (always trying to meet people where they're at, being culturally sensitive and kindly inclusive as possible), inspired me to further my studies in public health/gerontology.

Lisa, May and Frances (my nutrition clinic preceptor) appeared at Because they also do their own gardening (these RDs really walk the talk about knowing your food source and getting the best nutrition by growing your own!), I was always inviting them to visit so finally May and Frances came over after their ikebana class. I’m still waiting for Lisa’s visit to TFF :-) 
Frances and friends from On Lok (, which had a booth at Asian Heritage Street Celebration in nearby Civic Center, to promote aging in place.
May joins Frances in meeting my horticulture classmates Wendy, Jessica and Jenny.
May and Frances with their ikebana instructor Louise tour TFF.
May and Frances ask Antonio about his tree collard cuttings. In addition to his Getup credentials, Antonio holds a Permaculture Design Certificate and completed Pam’s Environmental Horticulture class at CCSF. Antonio and I discussed the surging interest and need for more food production classes at CCSF, instead of SF residents going to Merritt in Oakland to further olericulture studies. Antonio said he would love to teach permaculture at CCSF, and I think he would be superb—if only CCSF would make permaculture a priority, while facing budget cuts.
Stanley presents ceramic planter to regular visitor Diana who lives next to TFF.
Diana holds up planter so I can see bottom engraved “To Diana, Love Stanley”
These volunteers are FOR (Friends Of Ro)!
Strawberry harvest
Painters Jessica, Jenny and Wendy with our masterpiece garden table: Hey Malcolm (our horticulture instructor), look—this is really worthy of A+++ :-)! My classmates are so awesome :-), and especially appreciated Jessica and Jenny, who both had to re-arrange their work schedules to join us on Saturday workdays for our team project.
Jessica and Wendy tie garlic for hanging to dry out in toolshed (similar to our garlic braiding last year at, except Alemany Farm apprentice/school garden educator Ashoka explained that the garlic harvested in our wheelbarrow wasn’t the type suited for braiding). Antonio says goodbye before leaving for Food Sovereignty Summit at
Jason invited us to take tomato and basil plants to grow our own! Since these sun-loving plants don’t do well in my usually foggy Richmond District home, I took some up for our farmstand visitors.
Ashitaba plants get leafier in greenhouse. Next week: plan to transplant in labyrinth area and perhaps space near our entrance.
At our farmstand, these marigolds were leftover so I stuffed them in this jar – okay, I really ought to join May and Frances in their ikebana studies with Louise – but at least Tree’s smiling :-)! Marigold petals are edible (

In Acts 20:35, Jesus said “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” And I think it’s more empowering to reciprocate with both giving and receiving—which is what true education is about. Hope you can join us in our open classroom for some mutual learning!

Public Service Announcements:
Mon., May 21, 2012 at 10 am Seniors and Adults with Disabilities
City Hall, Room 250, Board of Supervisors Chambers, SF
Come hear a presentation on the 2010 census that explains the needs of our seniors and people with disabilities in SF. Find out what the City’s plan is to address the growing number of people who want to age in the community. Come testify to the impact of the budget cuts we have endured over the last 5 years. This is your time to let the legislators hear from you.
• 19% (155,000) of SF residents are seniors.
• SF’s senior population grew by 18,000 from 2000 to 2010.
• Nearly 90,000 San Franciscans report having at least one disability.
• Seniors now outnumber teens in labor force for first time on record.
• 11% of persons using shelters in SF are over age 60
• According to Homeless Count, almost half of homeless persons reported a disability.
• Over 8,000 persons age 60+ live in one of the city’s 530 SRO hotels (43% of all SRO residents).
• 10% of older San Franciscans and 14% of persons with disabilities identify themselves as LGBT.
• 30% of seniors in SF have limited or no English capacity.
• Seniors on SSI are living below the federal poverty line ($845/month) and are ineligible to receive CalFresh (aka SNAP or Food Stamps).
This hearing is sponsored by Supervisor Christina Olague and the Coalition of Agencies Serving the Elderly.

Tues., May 22, 2012, 6:30-9 pm What is Urban Agriculture?
AIA, 130 Sutter St., Suite 600, SF
Unlike rural agriculture, urban agriculture is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system: embedded in - and interacting with- the urban ecosystem. Such linkages include the use of urban residents as laborers, use of typical urban resources (like organic waste as compost and urban wastewater for irrigation), direct links with urban consumers, direct impacts on urban ecology (positive and negative), being part of the urban food system, competing for land with other urban functions, being influenced by urban policies and plans, etc. Urban agriculture is not a relic of the past that will fade away (urban agriculture increases when the city grows) nor brought to the city by rural immigrants that will lose their rural habits over time. It is an integral part of the urban system. (From the RUAF-Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security Website, 2012).
ASLA-Northern California Chapter Lecture Series is pleased to bring together several noted speakers and practitioners for what will be a very lively discussion focused on the challenges and rewards of urban agriculture efforts. Speakers include Barbara Finnin, Executive Director of City Slicker Farms in Oakland; Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager at SPUR; and several practicing landscape architects presenting project examples at local and regional scales. Students with ID free

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