Sunday, May 27, 2012

More friends + beyond boundaries

As a follow-up to SF’s Farm Bill resolution (, Getup classmate Susan is inviting us to attend “A Farm Bill for the 99%!” on Tuesday, May 29 (details in Public Service Announcement below).

Hayes Valley Farm (HVF), which was slated to relocate next month to make way for condo development, got a 6-month extension to continue farming in its birthplace through the end of this year. After that, HVF has plans to farm in more than just one location ( ) so maybe HVF will be renamed Hardly Strictly Hayes Valley Farm?! What’s important is to keep farming somewhere in the City, and I hope they continue to generously donate their harvest to Project Open Hand, which then ensures its distribution to cancer patients (

This piece of great news got me thinking about The Free Farm’s own future, which is subject to housing development plans. While farms like Alemany and Hayes Valley have names that identify with their respective neighborhoods, The Free Farm name is generic, which is cool because then we have the potential to be anywhere and everywhere! The name Western Addition Farm is a real mouthful, though it suggests we can expand to Eastern, Northern and Southern Additions?

Anyway, when my classmates and I presented our fabulous garden table + food production team project during our last day in horticulture class, our instructor Malcolm asked whether our project experiences made us want to pursue horticulture professionally. After quick reflection, I thought yes, let’s build more of The Free Farm garden tables at every senior center in the City! The senior moment is now :-)

We had another great turnout of volunteers to join us on another warm, dry sunny workday yesterday. Many returning volunteers also brought their friends/relatives so check out these fresh faces!
Returning Stanford volunteer Michael (with harvest) and greeter Joyce (with her usual light reading).  Imagine our garden table will be moving soon to where the farmstand is, just behind them.
So glad to see horticulture classmate Wendy return, and this time with her sister Rachel, a Lick-Wilmerding student who also volunteers at Alemany Farm (! Because I had to attend another appointment, they offered to transplant ashitaba plants.
Alemany Farmers John and Jason gather bamboo, while Monroe recognizes ashitaba plants (in green hands of Wendy and Rachel) as relative of wormwood.
First-time volunteers from Stanford join Jason with cutting flowers.
Tree looks for space to plant ashitaba
. . . and decides we should harvest mugwort plants for farmstand. Mugwort leaf (ai ye) is bitter, acrid, warm; stops bleeding; disperses cold and stops pain; use topically for damp itchy skin lesions. Acupuncturists burn mugwort leaves when practicing moxibustion. Since many herbs have contraindications, consult with herbalist before use ( &
First-time Stanford volunteers build compost pile—nice study break before they take their finals in three weeks :-)
Margaret waters container plants
At the end of the workday, I returned to The Free Farm to find ashitaba plant nicely grounded in its new home outdoors
Sadly, we had to uproot/evict some mugwort plants and a mango-looking tree in order to make growing space for ashitaba plant that can grow 4 ft in width.  
Thanks to Wendy, Stephen and Rachel for nice work in making space and planting ashitaba.
Pam decided to transplant her dye plants outdoors, but (again) finding growing space was challenging. Finally, Pam spotted space (though shady) near beehives for weld plants.
Other dye plants found a home squeezed in our sunny terrace near our gathering space. Afterwards, we went over to Pam’s to plant the remaining dye plants in her side garden—a satellite of The Free Farm?

We’ve been blessed with so many ingredients for life to thrive: clean air, water, nutrients, sunlight, warmth, loving attention, space . . . perhaps a bit tight on this element, but it’s really awesome how we are growing beyond our boundaries as volunteers and visitors begin growing their own!

Finally, before I take off: We realize you have a choice when it comes to activities this Memorial Day weekend—75th anniversary of Golden Gate Bridge Celebration, Carnaval, Hayes Valley Farm’s Homestead Skillshare Festival, etc.—so we especially would like to thank you for choosing to farm with us in the Western Addition!

Public Service Announcements:

Tues., May 29, 2012, 6-8 pm A Farm Bill for the 99%!
Mission Pie, 2901 Mission St. at 25th St., SF
How the Farm Bill impacts what you eat—and what you can do about it! Come learn how local leaders and communities are pushing for a healthier, more sustainable food system. Featuring Supervisor Eric Mar (D1), Supervisor David Campos (D9); Susan Kuehn and Adam Scow of Food & Water Watch; Author and Journalist Christopher Cook; and members of Occupy the Farm. Co-sponsored by the Center for Political Education and Food & Water Watch.

Sat., June 2, 2012, 2-7 pm University of the Commons Launch Celebration
ATA, 992 Valencia St., SF 94110
Collective of teachers, artists, activists, scholars, writers, and students dedicated to the idea of education for the sake of education. Learn about upcoming classes, always free, including Science Literacy, taught by Barbara-Ann Lewis, PhD Soil Science from UC Berkeley.

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