Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The making of an Urban Farm

this pic is from the ever awesome Cristina Ibarra

I am consistently amazed by the progress at The Free Farm, the work is moving so fast I think I've almost been taking for granted how much we've been able to accomplish in a few short months. A few weeks ago, Tree put up a really wonderful post on the Free Farmstand site about appreciation, and it really hit home with me. I feel really grateful to be a part of this project, for the partnership and hard work that has created and sustains it, and for the friends I've made and the inspiring new people I've met in the process. A big giant thank you to everyone who has been a part of it and everyone to come along the way!
I thought it seemed like a good time to post some "then" and "now" photos of our progress so far. The "then" photos reflect what the lot looked like before we started work in mid-January (yes of this year! as in 3 months ago!), and the "now" photos are from the workday this past Wednesday. I wish I had pulled off the row cover on all the farm style beds because they are all really starting to pop with vegetables. Next post, I guess! Enjoy and thank you!

The Free Farm is in the headlines!

Check out
this great article in the SF Chronicle about The Free Farm!

My favorite quote from Tree: "Doing things for free encourages people to share," Tree said. "It encourages people to be community, to be family. It provides people the chance to be generous with each other."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spreading the potential of urban gleaning and gardening AND PttP Tasmania!

I have been doing my best to keep up with the small handful of inspiring folks that have been contacting me about starting their own version of Produce to the People in their local community, whether it be a gleaning group, or a community garden, or a youth program, or a combination of any of the above. So far I admittedly mostly just tell the story of how PttP got started since it is still a fledgling project, offer how we currently are doing the things we are, some ideas about what has really been successful and what has really not worked so good, and then do my best to answer questions. It is important to me to be as forthcoming and transparent with way things operate as I can, because while I have no interest in starting other PttP's myself, I do have a great interest in helping other folks start their iteration of this work in a way that is local, grassroots, and in tune with the needs of the community that they live in.

I have been in contact most regularly with a woman named Penelope, who was super excited to start a similar project in Tasmania, and just heard from her recently that they received a government grant and are up and running! Very exciting! They are calling themselves Produce to the People Tasmania (after asking my permission, which I admittedly had some initial reservations about which I am doing my best to break myself of. In thinking through where this discomfort was stemming from and realizing it was largely based in succumbing to creating an identity based in private ownership, I felt a bit yucky, so I agreed to share the name. I might be naive, but really, what's in a name?) Anyway! Check out their blog, they are doing some seriously awesome work!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another article about gleaning

Just saw this article about gleaning groups in Sacramento, Portland and San Jose! So great! I feel so inspired when I hear that a person or a group of neighbors or an organization is doing this in their local area. It really keeps me going to know that so many folks believe in the importance of this work, of creating access to healthy local food, of sharing, of supporting their community, of working together. I admittedly feel overwhelmed sometimes, like there is so much good work to be done, how will we ever get to it all? But then I hear about other folks, and I know we will get to it all by sharing the load.
Keep fighting the good fight, gleaners!

PttP on Daily Candy + Gleaning info zine with Source Press!

Thanks to Daily Candy for the little blurb about our backyard harvest program! It has created quite a buzz, and reached a lot of folks outside of San Francisco that want to glean fruit and give it away. I had previously talked to a person here and there that wanted to start similar programs either gleaning or gardening in their local area, but a good handful got ahold of me just now, and I am thinking about putting together an info packet to help with the basics of starting such a program. We are really lucky to have such a thriving and generous garden community in the bay area, and I had the help and advice of many brilliant and dedicated folks getting PttP off the ground, so I would be really honored to be able to pass any ideas I've garnered along the way to make it easier for other folks to harness their local fruit and get it to people who can make good use of it.

And the ever-awesome Sorrel of Source Press has offered to help put out the info packet, so it will be zine style, and I'm super excited to work with her on it. She just finished her Mental Health Cookbook, which, of course, is amazing. If you're in the bay area, there's a release party at the Secret Garden on Sunday April 4th from 11-1pm, more info on the Source website. If you've never been to the Secret Garden, you could get a triple whammy that day because you could hang out there, get a zine, and hit the Free Farm Stand around the corner right after.
All very exciting!
Stay tuned about the info zine, or get ahold of me if you'd like to know when it will be available. Also, get ready to be patient because I've got a little too much on my plate right now, so it'll be a minute before I can really devote the energy to that project that it needs. But if you need help with ideas about starting a gleaning group in the meantime, please send an email.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First community workday at the St. Mark's Garden

I talk a bunch about the Mission High School Garden and the Free Farm, but it's time to give a new and well overdue shout out, because PttP has also been working with a really awesome and dedicated group of gardeners from the St. Marks Church and neighboring Martin Luther Tower senior community to start a food garden on a patch of land behind St. Marks. We have been hard at work doing the organizing (in a partnership with Urban Share) for several months and this weekend finally got to DIG IN!

I would love to say that gardens just happen when someone shows up with a shovel, some seeds, and a watering can, but really and truly, there is often a lot of paperwork and legwork, collecting supplies, borrowing tools, asking for donations, and many many conversations and ideas that come first. Don't let that ruin that magic for you, there is plenty of shoveling at some point, and this Sunday was the day for it! We are starting out clearing the space, which means weeding, raking, cleaning up, and making notes of the light and the layout to move forward. This garden is going to be partially raised bed at both standing and sitting height, in addition to a few double dug beds directly in the soil, to make it friendly for folks of all different ability levels.

There is another workday coming up next Sunday, March 7th from 1-4pm (the church is on O'Farrell and Franklin St.s) if you're interested in coming by to help out or check out the space!