Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Free Farm Stand is 'our' farm stand

Kristine, Burton and Brenaja helping out at the hyper-local table at the Free Farm Stand
(photo by Bill McLeod)
Pancho and Kevin hanging out by the produce in Parque Ninos Unidos
(photo by Cristina Ibarra)

There are some things that just feel great to be a part of, they're just genuine efforts from good and true people and the Free Farm Stand is one of these things, organized by a magical man named Tree, who is one of these people.

Folks coming through to get their groceries
(photo by Cristina Ibarra)

The PttP youth and I have been helping out at the FFS more often than the other sites, and the young folks have started to refer to it as "our farm stand", which is exactly the sentiment I'm trying to convey. Tree has done a beautiful job organizing it, it feels homey and inclusive, a place to meet people over good food and share ideas and recipes. A lot of folks that come are regulars and it's apparent that it's not just a place people come to, but a community they're a part of.

Kevin stocking the bread table and offering Pancho some homemade salsa

Sharing is really the center of what makes the free farm stand so special and why we feel so deeply akin to this particular food distribution site, because that is what we're trying to do through our backyard harvests, enable people to share, to even out scarcity with excess.

Yay local!
(photo by Cristina Ibarra)

It's also especially important to us that Tree makes it a point to showcase the food grown in San Francisco, and picked by regular local folks like us. Hyper local food gets to shine on one table, and farmers market excess occupies the other table. It's the best of both worlds, "homegrown" food from gardens around town, and local farm food from great small farms like Green Gulch and Happy Boy.

Tree! Strike a pose!
(photo by Cristina Ibarra)

Tree is also deeply dedicated the food gardening community in SF, especially in the Mission District, and he keeps a weekly blog that is both inspiring and informative, with a list of gardening opportunities throughout the week.

Burton, me and Tree checking out the honeycomb from the bees in Tree's garden
(photo by Kevin Estrada)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Julian Pantry

Another one of the really lovely places that we donate and distribute our produce through is the Julian Pantry at St. John's Church on 15th St. and Julian St. We went recently to help out with their Saturday pantry, which has a really nice communal vibe to it. Everyone who helps eats breakfast together beforehand, and before people line up for their groceries, there's a bagel and pastry snack time that happens in the courtyard.
We brought plums with us to share and Page, a professor from Stanford who I met recently at the Free Farm Stand brought a bunch of grapefruit he gleaned from the Stanford campus.  So wonderful!

Yuwen shucking corn!

Burton helping folks with their celery.

Kristine helping Brenaja refill the pasta.

And Kevin found a heart shaped potato!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jam Sale was a success!

The jam sale at Mission Pie was awesome! We sold out of all of our jam (about 65 jars!) not even halfway through our scheduled day. Kristine and Brenaja were superstars, wooing people in with jam tastes on bread we had made the day before, and then helping folks pick out exactly the right jam for their tastes.

Thanks so much to everyone that came out and bought jam to support Produce to the People! Thanks to Kristine, Brenaja, Kevin, Yuwen and Burton (sorry, Burton and Yuwen that you had the second shift and we finished so early!) for all your hard work making jam and bread! And thanks to Mission Pie for being so generous to host us and have a benefit plum tart day in our honor, and for all the great local food work and fostering of young folks that you do!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jam and Bread

We really like to make use of everything here at Produce to the People, so we've been saving overripe fruit from our harvesting excursions and freezing it, and now we're ready to a whole bunch of jam! We also made zucchini bread from the zucchini's that we got to partake in from the harvest at Alemany Farm, and whole wheat bread for folks to taste the jam at our upcoming jam sale fundraiser at Mission Pie.

Kevin, Brenaja, Kristine, and Burton pitting mirabelle plums and cleaning rose petals.

Kristine moving the bread dough to knead it and let it rise.

photo by Brenaja Cates
Kevin mixing up the zucchini bread.

Apricot Lavender and Plum Blackberry Jam bubbling away on the stove.

Brenaja stirring up the Plum Rose Petal Jam.

Water bath canner.

Finished Apricot Lavender Jam

Finished Plum Rose Petal Jam.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Benefit Day and Jam Sale at Mission Pie

Saturday, July 18th (that's this upcoming Saturday!), 8am-10pm at Mission Pie, 2901 Mission St. (corner of Mission St. and 25th St.)

Jam Sale out front from 11am-5pm (or until all the jam is gone!)

Please join us and our very good friends at Mission Pie to celebrate San Francisco's sweet and juicy plum season, which is currently in full swing. A portion of the sale of every plum frangipane tart on Saturday, July 18th goes to benefit Produce to the People. This is a win win fundraiser because you can come out, support the great work being done by BOTH PttP and Mission Pie, and eat some of the most delicious sweet treats in the city!

PttP will be representing out front with a table of locally harvested, handmade jams for sale for only $5 each. All the fruit has been picked by Produce to the People in and around San Francisco, and canned with love by the amazing high school students in our Summer 2009 Youth Employment and Education Program. All the jams are made with organic backyard fruit and organic, fair trade sugars. They are perfect for your morning toast, on top of a bowl of ice cream, and also make great gifts!

You can also stop by just to meet some of our awesome youth, hear more about what we do, or register your garden for harvest! And as always, more information about Produce to the People can be found on our website: .

Please pass the word on to your friends in the bay area, hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Loquat Love

I had never heard of loquats before San Francisco, but now I can't get enough!  They're another well kept secret due to the workings of the U.S. food industry that doesn't value produce that doesn't ship well.  Their loss is our gain, because they grow like wild in our climate!  The trees are native to Japan, and one of the brilliant gardening students at Mission High who grew up in Guatemala tells me the grow all over the place there too.  Don't mistake them for the bronze loquats which are also very popular in SF but don't produce fruit.  You can tell the difference because the non-fruiting trees have read leaves at the center of each bunch that reach upwards toward the sky.

Picking some low fruit off a small tree.

Loquats grow in small bunches so the easiest way to pick them off a tall tree is to cut the whole bunch and have folks holding a sheet or tarp under you to catch the fruit as it falls.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mission Greenbelt Gardens

I've had the joy of meeting a lot of really excellent people through gardening and art and community work, and sometimes those people overlap all of those categories in a serendipitous and lovely sort of way.  One of the multi-talented folks that I've been lucky enough to cross paths with is Amber Hasselbring of Mission Greenbelt Gardens.  

Amber is an artist, native plant enthusiast and sidewalk gardener, and combines all three through the Mission Greenbelt Project, which is working towards linking green spaces through the Mission District with California native sidewalk gardens.  I love this project because it is so important on so many different levels, sidewalk gardens are great for our watershed, and native gardens are both beautiful and low maintenance, but also attract native beneficial critters that manage pests and pollinate other plants (like our food gardens!)

We had just picked Amber's backyard plums the week before when she had mentioned there was a work day at the sidewalk garden that wraps around Mission Pool, so we said, "Great! What time should we be there?"  

photo by Brenaja Cates

photo by Brenaja Cates
Kevin becoming one with the plants.

photo by Brenaja Cates
Sticky monkey flower!

photo by Brenaja Cates

Betsy Davis and Burton liberating the corner plants.  Betsy is an awesome SF gardener and arborist that introduced me to Amber.  Yay for community and yay for women gardeners!

Burton, Amber and Brenaja dumping those pesky weeds over the fence!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Alemany Farm

We took a trip down bernal hill to the ever amazing Alemany Farm for one of their community work days.  Dave took us on a tour of the farm, talked about the history of the land, organic gardening and permaculture.  We weeded the artichoke patch and harvested lettuce and ate strawberries off the vine.


photo by Kevin Estrada
Bright and beautiful bee hives.

photo by Kevin Estrada
Touring the orchard hillside.

Burton and Yuwen harvesting lettuce.

Carrying the harvest back to be split between volunteers and the CSA that goes to the seniors in the community.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Plum Crazy!

It's plum season in San Francisco, which I think is surely the wildest fruit season in the city.  Plums trees grow so well here and are so popular that there are a lot of different varieties which extends the harvest because they each ripen at different times.  But when they do ripen, its fast and furious;  the whole tree (which can be several hundred lbs of fruit!) will ripen and drop fruit in the span of a few weeks to a month.  And the picked fruit doesn't keep for too long either, so you have to share and preserve, make pies and wine.

There is this amazing feeling of temporal abundance during plum season in San Francisco, the air feels warmer and lighter, people are coming out from the rain, meeting each other again, sharing their excess.  San Francisco may not be especially great at keeping in line with the demarcation of temperate seasons, but our fruit tree seasons are crisp and clear, and each year when plum season hits, I know it's summer in the city.

Burton and Kevin working together to harvest a plum tree in Potrero.

Burton mastering the extension picker to get some high up plums.

Kevin waiting to set up the Free Farm Stand with PttP plums, lemons and loquats, from Bernal Heights, the Mission, Potrero and Noe Valley.

Lovely folks at the Free Farm Stand conversating over the fruit.

Tart plum face!