Sunday, March 20, 2011
Free Urban Farm
Muhammad Zain '12
Yesterday, the Faith in Action ASB headed down to volunteer at the Free Farm near Gough St. and Eddy St in downtown San Francisco. The idea behind the farm is simple, develop a vacant lot into farmland, produce different kinds of vegetables that are then distributed free of charge (twice a week) to neighbouring families or the Free Farm Stand.
The story of Free Farm, starts in nearly 1993 when the St. Paulus Lutheran Church burned down. The authorities of the church had various idea about the lot but none came to fruition and so, two years ago they decided to loan the land to a few enterprising individuals (five in total, and three of whom are connected to Dartmouth!) to develop the Free Farm. Over the past year, the hard work by volunteers has resulted in a thriving farm, that produced nearly 3000 pounds of produce in the past year!
The farm opened around 10 am with the arrival of Finn, one of the volunteers whowas followed by tree, another volunteer who has been associated with the farm since its inception and has worked in the region since the 1960’s. Although the weather was not cooperating (dark and cloudy with intermittent bursts of rain (editor's note - LOTS of rain. - kdn)) we immediately set to work to harvest the crop of fava beans, kale and collards. Following that, we met Mr. Paige, a Dartmouth alum and faculty member and one of the founders of the Free Farm, who gave a short and hilarious history of the farm. His take home advice was simple, “If you want do do something, just do it, there is no reason to ask for permission, so if you want to plow the Green, do not wait around for people to get back to you”.
After his talk we divided into three groups, Stefan, Grace, Geovanni, Tev’n and Kurt worked with Mr. Paige on setting up trellis in the greenhouse, Chris, me, Alice and Maryam worked on transplanting kale and collards in prepared beds in the greenhouse, and Maha, Shelly, Despina and Sarah worked with tree in the second greenhouse in planting seeds and preparing saplings.
After two hours of hard work, we got ready for a pot luck lunch, where different volunteers and community members had brought in various vegan dishes. Although we had packed our own lunch, we joined with the rest of the crew and had a long and delicious lunch. After lunch, we headed back to our jobs and wrapped up our planting, construction and cleaning tasks.
After we came back we had an interesting reflection activity, lead by Geovanni, Chris and Sarah. We all got five minutes to write a reflection piece on the past two days of the trip, and following that Stefan wrote the first line of a poem. We all then went around and contributed to the poem in a way that reflected the piece we had just written. The completed poem is presented below:
If I had a moment to capture two days
tree is sharing his olives with the earth and it pays
I have sincere hope that our dedication is not a phase
And that we are steering the future towards a better, more wholesome trajectory.
May we be impregnated with ideas that benefit our communities
Muslims, homeless, Berkley, hippies, Stanford affiliates-take every step towards this future with unity
Don’t be afraid to try new experiences whether it is trying a fava bean or offering a lunch to one who needs it in the hopes of learning more about the diverse world around us
May we stay happy and willing to help others through rain, hail, sunshine or snow
And may we also have the patience and heart to give others the benefit of the doubt
Because aren’t we all fundamentally the same? And as the water
Drips into our eyes from soaking wet rain and our arms take on a shell
Of mud in a once abandoned lo, it doesn’t matter where we’ve come from or
In what we believe---
All that matters is that we’re going to somewhere better, looking out for our peers as our siblings is the key to success, how do we define it?
Is it our faith, our citizenship, or the nose on our face?
The tongue we speak, our dialects or our race?
Or our bank accounts, or the clothes we wear? We’ve seen the true kinship
We share as humans, we work to care when we shouldn’t, we just should
Stumbling together toward response to a world in need,
in our words, our actions, and our lives.