Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Free Farm Stand

“Where the hell did all these hipster come from?” I thought as I approached the Free Farm Stand. I had missed the class field trip to the stand a few weeks ago, so in order to make it up and see what all the fuss was about, I went myself. However, having been to the Julian pantry the day before, I was expecting a much different crowd. Instead of the eager older pack I had seen before, disgruntled hipsters starred at me through the lenses of their Ray Bans and creased brows. “Whatever,” I thought, “I guess everbody has a right to dank, fresh, local food.”

Another surprise was what the tables were stoked with. Right beside the piles of fresh organic produce we had helped grow only a few weeks before were heaps of just baked bread, and not just one kind but many.

“Hey tree, how can I help?” I asked. His blissful smile that faces every moment the world throws at him seemed to stare through me, a calm yet somehow outrageously excited, mouth-open grin that’s known just to him. I doubt he remembered who I was, yet he greeted me like an old friend and assigned me to the planter table.

The distribution began and those who had taken a ticket and gotten in line slowly proceeded down the series of tables, while those who had come later lounged in the sun pouring out onto the park. It was an undeniably jubilant scene, the receivers happiness only exceeded by the givers.

            Everyone was only supposed to receive a specific portion from each table, however, the growing plants that I were giving away weren’t very popular, so I handed them out freely. Most of my takers were unsupervised children, who would appear moments later, bashfully behind their parents who would hand me back the baby kale or chard. It was a noble effort, attempting to get people to grow some food themselves, but in a city with limited outdoor space and sunlight, it was futile for many.

            Later, after complaining about the excess of seemingly undeserving hipsters to my TA, I learned an important lesson. The free farm isn’t about giving to the needy or poor, but simply about giving. It’s a beautiful thing to share, but sharing can only be done honestly when everyone is placed on the same plane. Food justice can only be achieved when it is realized that everyone is equally deserving of healthy, fresh, and local food, and the free farm seeks to promote just such a community, where everyone is happy and eager to receive and give to each other without regard of their place or status in society. 

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