The Free Farm Organization

Our spiritual footprint

K built peace sign from recycled bricks
We seek to be an inclusive community of Gods diverse people, visible in the world. Like Jesus, we: Care about one another and all creation, Honor the poor, Tell the truth to ourselves and others in love, Encourage justice and show mercy.
Mission of Saint Paulus (http://www.saintpaulus.org/)
Todays posting begins with the mission statement of Saint Paulus, which has been generously sharing this beautiful space for The Free Farm, because were also sharing in this mission. As stewards of The Free Farm, Tree recently encouraged us to increase our spiritual footprint.

One obvious way we carry out Saint Paulus mission is to use this space to care for one another and all creation by building soil and community, growing food and sharing our produce to further food justiceespecially with the poor. September is Hunger Action Month (http://hungeractionmonth.org/), but we Free Farmers take actions to combat hunger every month. Though we hold volunteer workdays on Wednesdays and Saturdays, were also involved in outreach and behind-the-scenes work on other days to increase our spiritual footprint.

Damon builds brick terrace to make it easier to harvest strawberriesBasil harvested from hothouseDuncan & Alen harvest greens & tomatoesByron manages compostCompost is hot 146FWorkday leader Hannah oversees harvest for produce stand

Jordan & Duncan wash greens

Lunch gathering

Axis of Love is a patient advocacy group

Tomo & Rick plant lettuce

Damon made jam from gleaned plums

Claire put together colorful bouquetJulia & friend harvest greensPancho & Byron check out compost

Care for neighbors

Our volunteer greeter Joyce sent the following report on The Free Farms recent Make Our Garden Grow outreach event to our senior neighbors:

On Tuesday, August 30th, the Western Park Apartment Dining room crackled with excitement when Page and Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, representing The Free Farm, treated our senior community to a workshop and demonstration on gardening on a small scale.

We seniors live in cozy-size apartments and are in need of such information. We shared a tasty lunch, people brought their gardening questions and we were gifted with all the fixings to grow our own healthy chive plants. In addition to spending a valuable fun time together, Page and Margaret donated to our community sacks of much needed soil for our garden. Thank you!

Right on Free Farm – and all the right ideas it represents!

Joyce

Joyce holds up sunflower chain

Margaret mentioned that they will be returning at the request of Western Park management for a workshop on pruning the gardens ornamental plants. Margaret and Page are planning workshops to more groups in The Free Farm neighborhood.

Show how to grow food & community

Since Fall 2010, Margaret and Page have offered a Food and Community service learning course at Stanford University. The course is based on Food Justice book (http://www.foodjusticebook.org/); speakers that have included the books authors, The Free Farms Tree and Lauren; gleaning fruit trees on campus; and field trips to The Free Farm, Free Farm Stand, and Julian Food Pantry. Course graduates like Brittany and Tim continued their training as our summer interns. I appreciated their contributions to keep our blog fresh!

Sally, Britt & Margaret
Today was Britts last day as intern. Her projects included working with Tree on Shout Out for Sprouts! and re-working the History of the Land for Saint Paulus/The Free Farm, which will be posted on our bulletin board near The Free Farms entrance.

Encourage food justice

Adam & Susan of Food & Water Watch work to support locally grown food & the urban farmers who make it happen!

If youre concerned about high food prices, perhaps the near monopoly power exercised by agribusiness, which receives corporate welfare in the form of commodity subsidies, is partly responsible? Are you concerned that overproduction of commodity crops like corn and soybean, used to feed people, are now also used for ethanol or factory farm animal feed?

To answer these questions and more, my Getup classmate Susan, who is SF Coordinator for Food & Water Watchs 2012 Farm Bill Campaign (http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/farm-bill-2012/), came to The Free Farm with California Campaigns Director Adam, who shared his report back on his road trip educating communities about how the Farm Bill affects all of us as consumers, SNAP/WIC/school lunch participants, farmers, etc. and what we can do to ensure access to safe, healthy and sustainably produced food.

Adam answers questions about 2012 Farm Bill

As I have for the past 5 years, Ill be participating in the Hunger Challenge. (See details in Public Service Announcements listing below.) In 2006, the challenge was to eat on a weekly budget of $21, the value of benefits received by the average food stamp recipient. (In 2008, food stamp was renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. In California, CalFresh is the brand name for SNAP.)

This years challenge has increased the weekly food budget to $33 (increased by $5 from last year). I told Adam that I could afford grains and legumes (as Farm Bill subsidizes commodity crops like corn, wheat, barley, oats, rice, soybeans), but it was challenging to afford fruits and vegetables on a SNAP budget. (One MD advocates a starch-based diet at http://drmcdougall.com/misc/2009nl/feb/starch.htm, while noting grains and legumes are deficient in vitamins A and C, which can be obtained from fruits and vegetables. Id add that plant foods are deficient in vitamin B12, unless fortified.)

Can the new Farm Bill provide subsidies for specialty crops like fruits and vegetables? Adam responded that producers actually want a fair price, not welfare/subsidy. He mentioned that Food & Water Watch will hold a meeting with Central Coast/Monterey producers on Saturday, October 8, in Santa Cruz.

The current campaign seeks to protect programs like SNAP and support family farmers.

For more information on supporting local food systems and increasing healthy food access for all, contact Susan at smkuehn@earthlink.net or ascow@fwwatch.org.

Susan & Tree
Gough Street greening project

Gough St sidewalk

K waters succulents inside fence along Gough St
We want to make The Free Farm more inviting by increasing our visibility, while also reducing noise, pollution and runoff, along the Gough Street fence. Rev. Megan has been working on a design for a vertical garden with peep holesperhaps a visual labyrinthto draw peoples eyes into The Free Farm. She is soliciting input from us on several designs, including plant selection (succulents, scented herbs and geraniums, peelable edibles, flat growing trees, bamboo?). This project may involve using the sidewalk as well.

Design involves research so prior to joining todays workday, I attended SF Department of Public Works Grey2Green Sidewalk Garden workshop (http://www.eventbrite.com/event/975924015 for free upcoming workshops) at SF County Fair Building. I learned that planting fruit and nut trees, considered to attract nuisance, on sidewalks is not legal :-(. But workshop presenters Markos and Mike suggested alternative design and plant selection ideas to build soil and wildlife habitat, allow rainfall to return to groundwater, beautify our neighborhood, etc. Details at http://38.106.4.205/index.aspx?page=652

Recycled tombstones in demo sidewalk garden outside SF County Fair BuildingMarkos & Mike suggest planting seaside wild buckwheat to attract butterflies to sidewalk garden
Please come join us at The Free Farm to increase our collective spiritual footprint! And thank you, Saint Paulus!

Public Service Announcements: