Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bring on the Winter Citrus!

I would guess that there may be more lemon trees than any other type of fruit tree in San Francisco, and many of them fruit repeatedly all year round, but I've found that people consider them less than many other types of fruit. I will often go to pick plums or apples and find that there will also be an unassuming lemon tree on the property, heavy with fruit. I think it's because most folks don't eat raw lemons like other fresh fruit, they don't typically bite right into them, but they are easy to use in simple ways that still get you the vitamin C your body needs, especially in this winter season (despite our lack of winter weather!)

You can simply squeeze lemon into a glass of water or tea, juice them for lemonade, make a simple salad dressing with lemon juice and oil. Jaime, one of the students from our 2010 summer youth program would always grab a few lemons to squeeze over carne asada. My friend Susan, who teaches science at Mission High School (and teaches composting and seed saving in the garden! Awesome!), just told me that she takes meyer lemons (a smaller, sweeter variety) from her family orchard in to school and the students eat them with Pico de Gallo salt.

Earlier this week I picked 114 lbs of oranges from a tree in Potrero. Winter citrus season is in full swing, and we want your extra fruit! I'll be sending out emails to folks who have registered citrus trees to check in and see if you have extra fruit. You can also contact me at or on our fruit tree registry by clicking here. I believe citrus fruit is a big part of winter preventative care, so please share what you've got so we can keep everyone healthy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Free Farm celebrates our One Year Anniversary!

This past Sunday we hosted a beautiful and amazingly joyful day of service and celebration at the Free Farm in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, as well as the one year anniversary of our farm. The event was a collaboration with Temple EmanuEl, a Jewish congregation that organizes their own workday one Sunday every month to support and enjoy the farm.
We had been in discussion about our plans to build a greenhouse that would allow us to propagate seedlings and edible plants and trees, both for our farm, and also to grow plenty extra that could be given away to other community, school, and home gardens, and Temple EmanuEl generously offered to donate the funds for the greenhouse building materials so that we could raise the structure at our January 16th celebration.

We had disassembled and purchased a used hoop house frame from a nursery that had closed, and were able to get enough hoops to build a 20' x 30' hoop house for propagating plants, as well as a 20' x 18' hot house that we will use to grow warm weather vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant.
We're also in the process of creating a multi-use space next to the greenhouse, which will be comprised of a much larger tool shed (made of re-purposed plywood storage vaults), a second storage space that will house a small "office" and other supplies, and a meeting space where people can gather for meetings, workshops, worship and other spiritual practices like yoga and meditation. The storage build out, as well as our greenhouse mist system and a revamped irrigation system in the garden are being funded by the San Francisco Parks Trust Innovator Award.

The event went off without a hitch, it was the largest work day we've ever hosted, and the communal spirit and life of the farm itself was palpable in the teamwork and smiles and the uplifting energy in the air. It was exciting to participate in the raising of the hoops, as 12 people, working as 1, simultaneously lifted the top section of the greenhouse and fitted it together.
There were many projects happening throughout the day, the greenhouse, the hot house, the tool shed, bench building, making potato towers, painting signs, and starting seeds. It was so inspiring to walk around and see all the different projects and people that came out. As we planned the event, we weren't really sure what to expect, but in the end we all just let go, and were able to accept that any amount of service we were able to give and any amount of progress we were able to make and all the new things we were able to teach each other were exactly the right amount, and that we can accomplish so much by working together.

It's been an amazing year at the Free Farm, and this event was important for folks like me, who need to take a step back every now and then and marvel at what we've been able to make together. Huge thanks to everyone who helped, the team leaders, the awesome kids, the folks from Temple EmanuEl and St. Paulus Church, Alena and Yasue for the delicious and energizing lunch, and the Free Farmers for a stellar first year.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Some Recent Press

Produce to the People got a little mention as an "alternative model" to DPW's gleaning program in Urban Gleaning Program puts homegrown food to good use.

I was the "local mug" on ScoutMob this week, talking about PttP and San Francisco.

Also check out Urban agriculture: SF considers allowing sales about the new zoning proposal for community gardens, featuring our friends at Little City Gardens and Cultivate SF.