The 45 minute drive to the free farm acts as a slow build up through the municipal desert to the metropolitan oasis of the Free Farm.
We gathered before the gate in the early morning and unloaded the humble fruits of our previous glean. Although we were proud of our gatherings, they were nothing, in terms of amount and commitment, in comparison to the farm before us.
While Pancho, as much as an official as exists at the Free Farm, filled us in on the history of project, we were distracted by the explosion of vitality that sloped down and away from us. Nestled in the heart of San Francisco, the Free Farm sprouts out between the piles of concrete and metal around it, taking on the appearance and aura of a meditation garden separated from the bustle of the bay. And that is exactly what it is; as volunteers wandered in, Pancho invited us to join in on a silent walk through the herb labyrinth.
In a slow procession we wandered the garden, a silent process that provokes the deepest of breaths and gratitude without exception, and perfectly crowned with an engrossing hug from Pancho.
We spent the remainder of the day harvesting the products of the summer season’s growth and planting the fall and winter crops. While I busied myself with some curious earthly tumors that tree informed me were called sun chokes, others cleaned various vines of their bulging bean pods and cherry tomatoes.
In the meantime, garlic was pressed into the ground for their slow crawl into maturity.
Lunch time was preceded by a group circle around the heap of freshly harvested fruit while tree explained the goals of the farm.
Far from only providing a source of fresh food to the inhabitants of the Tenderloin, the idea behind the Free Farm was to introduce a sentiment of community into an area of the city that is defined by its haphazard destitution and criminality.
In a place so entrenched in caution, the Free Farm would be a place where one can at last ease there tensed muscles, close their eyes, and breath. If it is not yet the soul of the community, anyone would agree that they hope it will soon become it.
After lunch, focus turned to the Free Farm Stand, which had developed a line of eager clientele. We were happy to see the fruits of our glean go quickly.
The sun chokes didn’t fair so well, although some of their curious shapes were appreciated.