Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open 8 hours a week

Plant porn pick of the week: K models sunflower sunglasses

In Tree’s absence last Saturday, neighborhood volunteer K opened up The Free Farm (TFF) and sent me a couple of photos taken during the workday.
Smiles from strawberry hill photo by K
More smiles from volunteers photo by K
Flower power: Sunflowers make me smile :-) on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
Alicia and Arely came to visit TFF on Wednesday afternoon. Though from the neighborhood, this was their first visit so I gave them the grand tour. They asked if they could volunteer because they’ve worked in their school gardens and really love nature! Wow, they’re hired! They stayed at TFF until about 4 pm when Tree said he was ready to leave. Then they asked if we were open on other days, so I suggested that they return on our Saturday workday and check with other volunteers for access outside of our scheduled 8 hours a week—including their request to see the Queen Bee :-). In the meantime, we encouraged them to grow their own so Tree gave them a sunflower plant (their favorite), while I gave them a mugwort (removed to allow more growing space for ashitaba plants). Welcome Alicia and Arely, it’s always great to have volunteers from the neighborhood caring for TFF!
I removed mugwort plants, which were casting shadow on this ashitaba plant from SF Botanical Garden (SFBG).
SFBG curator Don said that nursery’s ashitaba plants were grown from seeds originating from Bolinas permaculture garden. A true plant whisperer, Don’s perhaps the only person who knows all 8,000+ kinds of plants at the 55-acre SFBG, and more plants continue to be added to this collection! Docents like myself struggle to keep up . . .Don mentioned that most nursery volunteers request to grow California natives and edibles, but SFBG isn’t focused on food production. Well, anyone who wants to grow edibles is very welcome to join us at TFF!

Actually, SFBG is engaged in food production when you consider it was just sand dunes until the introduction of plants, which attracted animals seeking plant food. Check out this video ( of Don talking about growing up on a farm, which led him to pursue botany studies and then a career in horticulture – over 27 years with SFBG! In this video, he also discusses the recent planting of 20 fruit trees (apples, plums, mulberries, figs) in SFBG Children’s Garden, and the importance of growing food.

I always feel so fortunate to live within walking distance of SFBG and Garden For the Environment, which are open every day of the year.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could open up TFF beyond our 8 hours a week?  For now, we'd love to have you join us on our volunteer days, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm.

Public Service Announcements:

Sun., July 1 & 15, 2012, 10:30 am Story Time + Children’s Walk in Botanical Garden
Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture, SF Botanical Garden, 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park, SF 94122
July story time’s featured book is And the Good Brown Earth, a story that follows young Joe and his grandmother as they tend her garden from scratch, patiently waiting through the seasons to see what their hard work will produce. Writer-illustrator Kathy Henderson beautifully chronicles the life cycle of a vegetable garden with colorful and detailed drawings. After story time, stick around for a docent-led children’s walk for the entire family!

Mon., July 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30, 2012, 11 am – 2 pm Bean Sprouts Family Days
Children’s Garden, SF Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, SF
For Families with children ages 5-12: storytelling, nature crafts and gardening led by our Youth Education program staff. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon together. Enter by the Friend gate and pick up a map at the admissions kiosk. Program is free. No sign-up necessary. Contact Children’s Garden educator Gretchen at (415) 637-4373 or email
Tues., July 3, 2012 Conservatory of Flowers (free 1st Tues.)
100 JFK Dr. in Golden Gate Park, SF 94118
Step back in time … WAY back in time as the Conservatory of Flowers transports you to a real life land of the lost in its newest exhibition Plantosaurus Rex. It's a prehistoric paradise of plants from the time of the dinosaurs when giant ferns, spiky horsetails and primitive cycads grew in lush abundance and fed many of the monstrous reptiles that roamed the earth millions of years ago. Under a canopy of conifers and Gingko, visitors encounter model dinosaurs like the armored Stegosaurus foraging for the vegetation they loved best while learning about the symbiotic relationship between ancient flora and fauna. But beware — the predators have come to Golden Gate Park too! A giant T. rex has smashed through the roof of the Conservatory to look for potential snacks!

Thurs., July 5, 2012, 7:30 pm Resources for Wildlife in the Urban Landscape
Recreation Rm, County Fair Building, 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park, SF 94122
Josiah Clark returns to give another of his very popular talks on how to provide for wildlife in our urban areas. The first step is identifying the resources that local wildlife need and use. Josiah will discuss wildlife resources in general, exploring the importance of plant composition, origin, structure, habitat, and placement. Josiah will compare and contrast native and nonnative plants and their uses by wildlife, and also address the importance of water, dead wood, and dense cover in the urban landscape. He will talk about trees, homing in on when they contribute and when and how they detract from wildlife habitat. He aims to inform people not only about how to improve local urban surroundings for wildlife but also to help the habitat stewardship community communicate more effectively about local needs--making us better advocates for better habitat comprised of native and wildlife-friendly plants. Josiah Clark started his venture, Habitat Potential, in 2002 and has worked as a consulting ecologist for a wide range of clients, including the GGNRA, the San Francisco Natural Areas Program, Golden Gate Audubon Society, and dozens of private property owners. He also leads international birding tours and environmental stewardship with urban youth, and writes on environmental issues.

Sun., July 8, 2012, 1 pm Forum: The Commons, Public Spaces & Privatization
Main Library, Latino Room Lower Level, 100 Larkin St. SF
The economic collapse in 2008 has been used as justification for the sell-off of public spaces, buildings and the privatization of public services and parks. SF is turning into a billionaire’s dream, as every city property from City Hall to the waterfront becomes a source for profit. The growing lack of regulation and transparency is part and parcel of this development and this forum will also look at how environmental protection and right to information also are in jeopardy. This panel will look at how our commons and public spaces are being threatened, who is doing it, who is helping them do it and how we can defend our public spaces and stop the privatization of public spaces and resources.
Speakers: Gray Brechin, UCB Geographer and author of Imperial San Francisco; James Chaffee, Keep Civic Center Public; Aysha Massell, Environmental Worker; Don Santina, Cultural Historian and writer; Peter Warfield, Library Users Association/Executive Director.  Sponsored by United Public Workers for Action

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