Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Barking up the Right Tree

We had some excitement at the Free Farm last Saturday. We harvested lots of zucchini and carrots, more pulp came in from the Dirt to Dish juice business, thank you Maria, and Gustavo made more compost.  It is wonderful to see someone besides me get excited about making compost and Gustavo always tells me he is looking forward to the task.

Pam, our resident bee woman organized a paper and cup making workshop. People came by and got to see how paper can be made from any fiber, in this case, army uniforms. Drew used a bicycle powered pulper and everyone got to make paper and put an image on it.
Aaron brought a small wheel and made beautiful clay cups that he gave away.
I told him though that the images he carved into them were a bit on the dark and  heavy side topic wise...skull and crossbones over bees, agent orange, Monsanto...We get the point about the evil out there and he understood what I was saying and said his next batch would be a more positive message.

Around  1pm maybe thirty people showed up at the Free Farm to attend a dialogue and discussion about the out of control development  happening in San Francisco and what can be done in response to our city losing more and more open space due to construction. It turned out that the discussion never happened and shortly after they arrived they went to the park across the street to gather for a march to "Liberate the Land" from Turkey to the Bay Area. I love this crowd for there idealistic spirit!

They wound up at the recently closed Hayes Valley Farm which they soon occupied and renamed it Gezi Gardens in solidarity with the park in Turkey that was going to be destroyed and a large mall built there. It is ironic, I don't know how these Occupiers got in the space, but originally people cut the gate to get into the soon to be Hayes Valley Farm...I found this image going to the Hayes Valley Farm website http://hayesvalleyfarm.tumblr.com/.

The video tour is pretty interesting too, seeing how much work went into that place. Especially bringing in all the mulch and manure. Maybe the Occupiers should bag up a lot of the mulch that is still there and give it away so it isn't cemented over.

I think it is a brave and inspiring action these Occupiers have taken and they are about the only people I know in San Francisco who are putting themselves on the line to speak out against the loss of our farms and parks not just in San Francisco, but in the world wherever it happens.  We agree with their stand against further development in the city until all the vacant buildings are put to good use, with the priority going to converting buildings into housing that have subsidized rent for those that have very little money.

One thing that makes me sad is that it is easy to get attached to trees and any trees that are planted on temporary land usually get the ax or have to be moved. No one seems to build things around the trees.  I am glad that the Occupiers are building platforms in the trees and speaking  up for them.  At the Free Farm we will have to move all our trees, including the big avocado tree that has after only four years (one in a pot) has a huge crop of tiny avocados this year.

Before they closed Hayes Valley Farm many from the nearby Zen Center had an honoring of the trees and a goodbye ceremony. I guess they were saying goodbye to all, including the trees. I liked this closing dedication also on the HVF website:
Closing Dedication:
All awakened beings throughout space and time;
All living beings: birds, worms, plants, trees, water and air;
The living compost, sunlight, soil, and Earth;
Wisdom beyond wisdom;
Maha Prajna Paramita.
Then I think they ended with singing my favorite Woody Gutheriesong this Land is My Land. The last lyrics of the song seem appropriate to Occupiers:

As I was walking’ - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin’
But on the other side … it didn’t say nothin!
This land was made for you and me!

I also want to say that as important as it is to speak out against things that are wrong, we must also engage in the constructive program of creating the world we want. For example, I like the action of digging up a lawn at a Monsanto demonstration and making the statement Food not Lawns, but we need to be planting food on a daily basis.  In some ways, since no one was going to stick around and tend the garden they planted at Justin Herman Plaza, maybe that was the wrong action to take since more lawn will replace the kale.

There is so much good work that needs doing as part of what could be our constructive program centered around urban agriculture and feeding those in need.

Here is a list of things that help is really needed for immediately:

Right now I need help moving a large roof top garden nearby the Free Farm (someone is moving and they want to give away all their plants and pots on their large roof). We need a phone tree of people who can process excess fruit left over from the Free Farm Stand on short notice, we need schlepers who can drive or ride a bicycle cart,and the Free Farm Stand also needs a consistent driver to pick up left-over produce at a farmer's market on Sundays.  Alemany Farm has been giving us extra produce they grow that has been a lifesaver for the Free Farm Stand.  They need people to help harvest this produce usually on Fridays. This is in addition for the need of volunteers to help run the Free Farm Stand and to grow food for it at the Free Farm and other places.

For those who just want to play, have fun, or  want to be an artist or hacker (whatever that is) there is this event going on called Freespace:
"14,000 sq feet on Mission between 7th-8th -- an open free space inviting participation in an experiment in "hacking" for one month. What do you want to hack or art hack about? Post your ideas and make it happen on twitter#freespace"
 I ran into my friend Mike Zuckerman at Hayes Valley Farm on the last day, I was getting mulch, and he told me about this Freespace event he is organizing. He asked me to participate and help plant a garden there. They are hoping they might be able to be there longer, but they have it for $1 for one month only right now.  I can't help but balance in my mind...temporarily be at Freespace or occupied Hayes Valley Farm? Or just trying to keep up with the work at the Free Farm and Free Farm Stand. Where is the revolution happening?

Here are a few pictures from the Free Farm Stand, where a lot of the Free Farm produce goes:
 two kinds of zucchini
 lettuce from Alemany farm
carrots from the Free Farm 
 Cristina made pickles to give away from 
Armenian cucumbers from last week. They were yum!
 two of our regular volunteers who pick up the left-over produce from Stonestown farmer's market. So many people really appreciate this food that comes when we are usually out of our first load. I love all our volunteers, especially our regulars. And it is great to see our teens get involved too! 
 blessing the Farm Stand
blessing our volunteers
 we gather our team before we start 
and say thank you
 chillin' on the lawn with a little music while
 they wait for their number to be called
 a beautiful 2 month old
 beautiful produce
beautiful compost (now the farmers are
 giving us their compost