Our environmental horticulture instructor Malcolm posed this short answer question in our midterm: “How might you compare gardening for a hobby and being involved in horticulture as a profession?” I responded that the horticulture profession means you’re hired to do what your paying client wants, while hobby gardening means you get to do what you want.
While The Free Farm doesn’t have the complete infrastructure and equipment of a professional nursery operation, we gain skills like resourcefulness (scavenging for garden table materials to minimize our ecological impact) and sharing (which might not seem like a “marketable” skill, but it’s how people survive). Perhaps our experience at The Free Farm is not the Real World, but I prefer our Ideal World!
“I want to be the one to walk in the sun, Oh girls they want to have fun”
Here are some of the things I love about The Free Farm experience, whether as hobby or profession:
When I arrived at The Free Farm late in the afternoon, it was another warm, dry, sunny workday. It was a real contrast from where I’d spent the previous four hours doing outreach work at the Richmond Community Health Festival (crowded inside Recreation Center, foggy cold outside). Though I missed most of the workday, I wanted to check on the progress of our garden table and bring over some plants for transplanting. My timing was perfect as Jessica and Wendy showed me this rodent, wondering if it was the endangered mouse spotted earlier this year (see http://thefreefarm.blogspot.com/2012/02/love-is-all-around.html). I can’t tell the difference between a mouse and a rat, but if any blog readers know from this photo if this is an endangered rodent, please let us know! While horticulture professionals might regard rodents as pests, we observant Free Farmers consider whether rodents might be an endangered species in need of protection—including preserving habitat!
When our local Veg Society was asked to “cater” at today’s Health Festival, this seemed to cause an existential crisis about our mission to promote vegetarianism as a healthful and humane way of life (including concerns for the environment and animal welfare). Though our Veg Society obtains free veggie product samples that are given away freely along with our informational brochures, we do not view ourselves as a food pantry but we seek to engage the public about making mindful food choices, like where our food comes from and how a plant-based diet promotes health.
When people ask why we freely give away organic produce to anyone who shows up at our on-site farmstand, I remind them that we always have more volunteers than we have visitors who receive food from us. Though visitors may not be directly involved in production, they can still see where food comes from. While I understand that not everyone wishes to get his/her hands dirty, everyone should have an attitude of gratitude for what's involved in producing good food that sustains us.
I especially like giving away whole plants, so visitors gain a greater appreciation for the labor involved in picking arugula leaves or fava beans. I’m really looking forward to bringing out our garden table closer to our entrance to engage more visitors (especially seniors or those with mobility issues who have been reluctant to enter our downhill terrain) in hands-on gardening!
Stanley created this cool falcon pot. I love the diversity that results from the artistic contributions of many volunteers!
CCSF training for horticulture professionals
and Herbs left a vacancy so there was no one to teach Spring Veg and Herbs at CCSF. Thomas (who made his debut in this blog at http://thefreefarm.blogspot.com/2012/03/tea-time-butterflies.html) and his environmental horticulture students have been maintaining this garden left behind by Pam.
Slackers at farm + office?
Our volunteers from Stanford made this amusing video, “Farm life v. office life: what gets YOU up in the morning?” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOM3HcSr4Tw. It portrays idyllic farmer (chomping on job!) versus bored office worker (napping on job!) –though both humorously appear to be slackers, as they leisurely go about their day, seemingly without any deadline pressures, co-workers and clients?
Public Service Announcements:
Sat., May 19, 2012, 7:30 pm Nutrition Prescription talk by Don Forrester, MD
Unitarian Universalist Center, 1187 Franklin St. at Geary, SF http://www.clinicalcatalyst.com/docs/Nutrition_Prescription-Overview.pdf
Rosenberg Library, 3rd Floor, City College of SF, 50 Phelan Ave., SF
Subtitled “It’s the Food You Put in it That Counts” Creating Nutritional Awareness/Design for Social Impact http://ccsfexhib.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/byobag/