Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Jammin'!

We hosted our second ever Produce to the People benefit JAM SALE at the warm and wonderful Mission Pie this past Saturday and despite the rain, we had a nice turn out! Some new faces, and some good friends, and some folks who enjoyed the jam from the last sale so much that they braved the looming downpour to pick some up!

We had about ten varieties of jam of jam this time, all made with local fruit and herbs, and organic and fair-trade sugars. We also had some hand stenciled and sewn tote bags and some hand punched buttons with great phrases like "fruit trees are love", "homegrown tastes best" and "share your harvest".

Big thanks to Gregory Bartlett, Chantal O'Keeffe, Chelsea Rae Klein, and Little Vila for helping set up and talk jam with all the great folks that came by. Thanks to Mei Ling Hui and Courtney Lee for stopping by to say hi and talk about gardens and fruit trees. And as always, undying gratitude to Mission Pie for the great work you do with youth and local food, and for always supporting our efforts to do similarly great work.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Produce to the People featured on the NEED blog

We have received some lovely press from some lovely people, but I was really taken with this article written by Lauren Fischer on the NEED (a humanitarian magazine) blog. I really appreciate Lauren's ability to pull coherent quotes out of my rambling diatribes, and love all the shout outs to other organizations that we work with. It's been ever apparent to me lately how great it is to have solid partnerships with people who are tirelessly supportive and reliable.

I also was inspired by talking to Lauren about a community composting program that she has been thinking about organizing with the folks in her building. How great would it be if all apartment buildings had that?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MHS goes to Little City Gardens

The Mission High School gardeners took a walking field trip over to Little City Gardens the other day to check out the amazing work happening there, get ideas of how to get the most growing power out of a small space, and talk about small, community-minded business and entrepreneurship with the amazing farmer/owners Brooke Budner and Caitlyn Galloway.

We got a tour of the garden where they grow mostly an artisanal salad mix and herbs for a local restaurant and have a CSA in the works. We also got to check out their seed starting area with totally brilliant half bike hoops to hold up row cover, and got to smell fennel and take some prickly chayote squash back for our garden (chayote are a beautiful vining squash native to central or south america depending on who you talk to, that grow really well in the warmer parts of San Francisco. You can grow a new plant from a ripe fruit (which you can get at the farmers market and even some local grocery stores when it's in season) by letting it sit in the dark until it sprouts, then burying it on it's side (sprout side up!) half way up in potting soil until it develops enough roots to be transplanted)

I thought this was a great trip on many levels, but especially because of how much Brooke and Caitlyn are managing to do with a fairly small space that is nearly right around the corner from the high school, and because I think it's really important for the students to see urban gardening not just as a non-profit and educational endeavor, but also as an important addition to our local economy, and a positive source of entrepreneurship, grassroots business and potential employment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

give a fig!

It's finally getting around to fig season in San Francisco! Figs are another tree that grows quite happily in our climate and there are quite a handful of old and established, hugely abundant trees tucked away around here. I find that fig trees have more pest issues than some other fruit trees, the birds, possums, raccoons and rats, all seem to have field days in the fig trees, and are highly in tune with the ripening of the fruit. With that said, I've harvested a beautiful tree in Potrero twice now, and have made quite a decent harvest despite the fact that the resident told me that I've been sharing it with a family of about seven raccoons!

This most recent harvest, I had the help from two amazing and inspired ladies, Anja and Charissa, who are doing research on projects that they consider to be beyond urban agriculture. I was honored to be on their radar, and we had a chat over some Mission Pie, and then they graciously volunteered their time and tree climbing skills to help harvest. They came by my home garden afterwards and I loaded them up with scarlet runner beans, african blue basil, apple quince butter, plum rose petal jam, and a bottle of ipa homebrew. I really get overwhelmed with the food sharing sometimes, and just can't stop myself!

Figs are quite quick to become mush, and while most of them will make it to the Free Farm Stand, I did make a pretty substantial batch of fig jam with home fermented red wine vinegar, which will definitely be out for the next jam sale. And the figgy ends all go in our compost, which has been hotter than ever! Those microorganisms sure do have a sweet tooth!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Placerville apple sensation!

I just can't say enough that we meet some of the nicest, most generous folks doing this work. After our incredible score of some of the most delicious pears I've ever tasted, I didn't think we could match that bounty for some time, but right away I had a call in to Camilla, an amazing woman from San Francisco, who has a house with a small apple orchard on Apple Hill in Placerville. Erin landed in SF by way of western Massachusetts and had been having major fall in New England blues, so it took little convincing to get a harvest partner on this outing.

It was a beautiful day and Camilla's land was quite magical. We set out picking early, starting out with some super sweet golden delicious. Shortly after we got going, my friends from the Free Farm Stand and the Julian Pantry, Page, Margaret, Caleb and Lyn arrived, which was so much fun to have a big group of San Francisco food activists out in the country picking delicious and abundant fruit!

It was really wonderful to sit down to lunch with everyone and have amazing vegan cauliflower and lentil soup that Camilla so generously made for us all. Sitting down to eat great food with great company is really one of my most absolute joys.

After lunch, Erin and I moved on to the red delicious and winesap apples, also incredibly sweet and juicy. After we had filled the car with apples, we picked a handful of the concord grapes along the fence and then sat in two stray adirondak that we stumbled on walking through the side orchard. Lovely!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Clearlake pear extravaganza!

I had the good fortune of meeting a really nice man named Ed with a pear orchard up in Clearlake through the folks over at Neighborhood Fruit. Erin, Greg and I jumped on the chance to hightail it out of the city for fruit pickin' and a camping trip by the lake.

We arrived in the afternoon, and the orchard was huge! Ed is working on going organic after purchasing the land from some conventional growers, which takes a few years of actually growing organic before you can get certified, so he has been growing his 8 acres of pears with no spray since 2007. Needless to say, we had a field day, stuffed the station wagon to the gills with beautiful and delicious pears, almost 800 lbs!

Here at Produce to the People, we know the importance of testing your product. Strictly research, of course! We gleaned the red and bartlett pears from the side of the orchard that had already been harvested (but still had quite a bounty left hanging). The bosc were about to be harvested the following week, so they were in abundance. I think it was the common consensus that the red pears were the flavor champions.

Off to pitch the tent and kick back by the campfire! (I know that looks like the ocean, but it's the lake! No joke, it was rowdy!)

All the beautiful photos in this post were taken by the fabulous and talented Gregory Bartlett. See more of his art work at:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Produce to the People featured on Design Sponge!

I'm so honored to have PttP and my humble little garden featured on Design Sponge! Thanks to Lia and Studio Choo for the lovely article, you guys are the best!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Food, Inc.

If you're in San Francisco, Food Inc. is playing at The Roxie through October 6th. Go see it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

OMG...PTTP runs on WVO!

In case you haven't seen us chugging along, Produce to the People cruises about town toting fruit in a 1983 banana creme pie yellow Mercedes station wagon. We have been fueling up with biodiesel at Dogpatch Biofuels and Biofuel Oasis, but finally made the plunge and did the waste vegetable oil conversion. Now we're running on recycled grease from a local sushi restaurant, woo woo!

Friday, September 11, 2009

yay yay, paw paws

I am OBSESSED with pawpaws. I'm not really sure when this obsession began, but over a year ago at least, which is a bit bizarre considering the first time I have ever eaten, or held in my hand, or even seen a pawpaw was a few days ago on a hike in Virginia.

Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit native to North America, but, like loquats, they don't travel well so most folks, even those who live where they grow abundantly, have never eaten one because you can't buy them at the super market. They're sweet and rich and taste something like banana papaya custard. I managed to smuggle about 15 fruits out of the woods, and probably would have filled my whole backpack had my folks not had a bit better sense (or a more acute fear of park rangers) than I do. Either way I have a whole bunch of pawpaw seeds now, being cold stratified in the fridge, and I'll let you know if they sprout!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lauren is back!

Vacation was awesome. I'm back, let's pick some fruit!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lauren is on vacation!

yes, that's me. dead man's float. in the river.

I'm on vacation until Sept. 9th and will be sporadically responding to email, but the lovely Erin Kohl from SF Glean will be harvesting in my absence, so drop me a line if you've got fruit and I'll pass your info along to her. Peace out!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

PttP Summer Youth Program 2009 comes to a close :(

Our amazing summer youth employment and education program 2009 is coming to a close, and while I'm going to miss the awesome students something terrible, I feel really grateful for getting to know them, and so proud of the work we were able to accomplish this summer in just a handful of weeks. We harvested and distributed 1,497 lbs of local (predominantly from San Francisco) produce, fostered relationships with four distribution sites, took part in the building and/or maintenance of six community gardens, canned 65 jars of homemade jam, met lots of new folks in our community, and each made five new friends.

Thanks so much to Brenaja, Burton, Kevin, Kristine and Yuwen for putting up with a nutty boss, an ever fluctuating schedule, and a new challenge at every turn. You guys will do great things, I just know it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Apple a Day

photo by Kristine Tubig

Plum season is on it's way out, which means its time for apples!

Kevin picking apples in Bernal Heights.

photo by Cristina Ibarra

Some PttP apples on the local produce table at the Free Farm Stand.

photo by Cristina Ibarra

Little one at the Free Farm Stand enjoying apple season!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mission Pie Garden

Earlier today the PttP youth crew helped plant a new sidewalk garden outside of Mission Pie on the corner of 25th and Mission St.s. There have been more and more sidewalks popping up around the Mission, which is super exciting, some made by community projects like Mission Greenbelt Gardens, some by neighbors, some by residents and some by businesses. Some of these gardens are under the radar despite happening right out in the open, meaning that they haven't gone through any permitting or requirements to legally install a sidewalk garden, and some, like the Mission Pie garden, have gone through rigorous designing and adjusting and re-adjusting of plans to get to a place where the garden could legally happen.

Most of these gardens feature native plants, great for our local ecosystem, supporting our local wildlife and beneficial insects, and thrive with little maintenance and little extra watering once established. Most legal sidewalk gardens do not feature food plants because it is quite complicated to pass fruit trees especially through this permitting process (despite Newsom's desire for us all to grow food and especially fruit trees on unused public land). Mission Pie worked long and hard to get some food plants through this process and managed to succeed with full size almond and linden trees, dwarf meyer lemon trees, raspberry canes, strawberry and lavender plants.

Karen Heisler (who co-owns and operates Mission Pie with Krystin Rubin) giving everyone the run through of the days activities. Karen is also a co-director of Pie Ranch and we have been working together to help build the food garden at Mission High School. Also, off to the right is Catherine Butler of Urban Edibles!

The steadfast PttP gardening crew (from L): Kristine, Yuwen, Lauren, Burton, Brenaja, and Kevin (who mostly got cut off in this picture)

Kevin helped dig a really deep hole and plant a full size linden tree.

Burton planted a couple meyer lemon trees and some raspberry canes.

Kevin and Brenaja top dressing newly planted lavendar with compost.

One of the most important parts of a hard day of gardening work is hanging out on the pick up truck when the work is done.

Thanks Mission Pie for the delicious picnic lunch out on the sidewalk for all the volunteers! And thanks PttP youth for all the hard work!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Secret Garden

There is an intimate and wonderful garden tucked away in secret space between the back gardens of four houses in the Mission, quite appropriately called The Secret Garden or El Jardin Secreto. Clara, who I had initially met through the Free Farmstand (have you noticed how many people connect over the Free Farmstand? Come by if you want to meet gardeners, or food makers, or canners, or just really nice people looking for good food or to share good food, Sundays, 1-3, Parque Ninos Unidos/Treat Commons, Treat and 23rd) has recently taken up the task of getting this garden back into shape.

We have been doing our best to keep up with the incredibly tall loquat tree, and the handful of cherry plum trees that are making and ripening fruit so much faster than we can manage to pick. Really, these cherry plums are out of control! We have been to the garden several times already and stand to go several more times (I'm pretty sure the PttP youth have had their fill of cherry plums and now understand way too well about local, seasonal food, and why it's important to share!)
The garden is beautiful though, and quite an oasis in the city, and hey, there's even a swing for break time!