Dear Farm Friends,
Click here to read our November edition of “e-news.” In this edition, you will find (in order of appearance):
- An invitation to the final workshop of the season: “Touching Earth,” Zen + Farming: this Saturday 11/13 from 10 – 11:30 am. Note that this is an online workshop. Learn more and register.
- A brief introduction to our newest cohort of paid apprentices
- News about three recent focus groups conducted with our neighbors at the Alemany Apartments
- Some photos and highlights from our recent Harvest Festival
- Another installment of: Farm Voices! In this round, read a blurb from longtime farm friend and frequent weekend workday host, LisaRuth Elliott: Coreopsis Dreams: Cultivating Color
Thanks, as always, for your support – and farm on!
The Alemany Farm Team
|Come to the Harvest Festival & Fall Plant Sale! |
Saturday, 10/23: 10 am – 2 pm. Learn more.
We are excited to welcome you back to the farm for the first Harvest Festival since the pandemic began: next Saturday, October 23, from 10 am – 2 pm!
Plus we’ll hold our final plant sale of the season. Masks are required for this event. Bring a small token to place on the farm altar (a photo, an intention, something to let go of, or an offering to the earth).
Festival features include:
Enjoy a kids music session with Emily Shumway from 10:30-11 am, live string music from 12-1 pm, courtesy of your favorite local old time music ensemble and mine: The Knuckle Knockers.
The final fall plant sale, including seasonally-appropriate crops to fill out your fall and winter garden (more information below).
A pickling station with Master Food Preserver and SF Rec & Park Department’s very own Mei Ling Hui.
Make your own salt scrubs with Clinical Herbalist & author, Bonnie Rose Weaver.
Garlic planting – it’s a tradition for our fall festival.
Tour the farm: Get reacquainted with your neighborhood agricultural site; learn about the history of the land, discover how it has changed and grown during the pandemic.
|Tour the expanded vineyard and hear about the 280 Project’s pilot apprenticeship program, led by our resident visionary, mover, and shaker, Christopher Renfro.|
Learn about local apiculture at Alemany Farm’s beehives, where SF Beekeepers’ Association will lead a workshop.
Masks required at Harvest Fest!
Harvest Festival will include our final fall plant sale of the season. We will have a wide variety of seasonally-appropriate veggie starts, plus culinary and medicinal herbs. Check out all of the plants we have in stock before you come, and bring trays to help yourself carry everything home. Our inventory usually moves quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute to show up!
Cash preferred (our new card reader works intermittently).
Suggested donation: $5 per 6-pack or 4″ pot, $10 per gallon pot,
$15 per tree.
Parking is available off the gravel driveway inside the farm gate. Masks required.
The Alemany Farmers will be on site throughout the sale to meet, greet, and consult with you. All donations directly support farm operations.
Final Fall Workshops
Hands On Herbal Medicine: Elderberry Syrup and Immune System Support
Saturday, November 6, 11 am – 1 pm
On site at Alemany Farm. Bring a mask. Register: Herbal Medicine
Enjoy “Hands On Herbal Medicine” with Bonnie Rose Weaver, clinical herbalist, medicinal landscaper, and author of Deeply Rooted: Medicinal Plant Cultivation in Techtropolis.
Learn to make elderberry syrup in this hands-on workshop about herbs to support your immune system this cold and flu season.
Touching Earth: Zen & Farming
Saturday, November 13, 10 – 11:30 am
On Zoom. Register: Zen and Farming
Enjoy “Touching Earth” with Sensei Wendy Johnson, author of Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate; Sara Tashker, Dharma Teacher and Farm Manager at Green Gulch Farm; and Jack Thomas, Co-Director at Friends of Alemany Farm.
Witness and join a conversation between three generations of Bay Area farmers and gardeners. Wendy, Sara, and Jack will discuss several methods that transform manual labor and land-based work into an expression of gratitude and a technology for individual and collective healing. Learn how to bring your contemplative practice to life in the garden.
Heather Weiss, FOAF Steering Committee Member, on
Food Activism, Farm Practice, & Community NourishmentHeather harvests Early Riser pole beans in the western row crop beds. Photo Credit: Navila Hossain, Alemany Farm VolunteerDear Alemany Farm Community,
My name is Heather Weiss and I grew up in and am lucky enough to still call San Francisco my home. As any San Franciscan can tell you, we are passionate about food here. I came to Alemany Farm to connect with food that I had a part in growing, and to be a part of a project that supports food access and autonomy for everyone in San Francisco. Through this access and autonomy, we are currently experiencing and being nourished by the Farm’s wonderful late summer bounty as we enter more fully, with each passing day, into the excitement of the SF second spring—fall.
My own work with Alemany Farm started in the first half of 2020–the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and halfway through my Master’s program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). It was, as you well know, a time filled with change as well as personal and collective stress. Despite this, I was really excited to connect with a project in San Francisco growing free food – and after the shelter-in-place order went out last March, I reached out to see if I could support the farm. In 2020 and beyond, food justice efforts came to the forefront and became even more important as COVID-19 and the national uprising for Black lives and racial justice underscored inequalities throughout our system. As we saw throughout the pandemic, food security efforts became even more important in San Francisco and across the nation, as so many people were losing jobs and/or access to affordable grocery shopping. Alemany Farm’s activist work of growing and distributing food, as well as the work of creating community space and green space became even more urgently needed.
My first project with Friends of Alemany Farm was a grant writing collaboration, where we had an opportunity to consider how decisions are made, and reflect on the farm project overall. In the middle of all that COVID stress, I got to log in to video chats with the Friends, meet up in masks on site to hear about what got people excited about the farm, and write my final paper, “Free(way) Food: Politics and power of place at Alemany Farm.”
Since then, I have joined the farm’s steering committee. Together, we are reconsidering how we work, so that FOAF’s efforts are more aligned with movements for food justice, racial justice, and economic justice. I still go to quite a few video chats and collaborate online, but since it has been safer to be on-site, I have also joined friends and volunteers at the farm and I feel so grateful to be a part of the turning of seasons this year.
Urban food justice is a response to urban food injustice–the ways that the food system has created gaps, disempowerment, and inequality in terms of access to food that is nutritionally and culturally appropriate. Another way of thinking about that is to consider who has access to growing or getting food and where that food comes from. Take a moment and really consider this: Do you have a say in where your food comes from? Do your neighbors? Do the people in the neighborhood across the city from you? Who grows and makes your food and how? Answers to these questions are deeply connected to histories of racist policies, and systems of marginalization and will look vastly different depending on your race, class, and neighborhood. Urban food justice projects consider these questions and then take action to create spaces of food access that allow more people to have a say in what and how they eat—especially people and communities most marginalized by the dominant food system. Community management, communal work, food that is free, education, and a relationship to place are all a part of food justice.
As a researcher and a student, part of what I do is activist research. The “activist” side of activist research, where action reinforces theory, is really central to my time at Alemany Farm. Food and activism have a long legacy here in the Bay Area as well. Food, especially food in San Francisco, is central to culture(s), but beyond just food and “foodie” culture, food as activism is central to SF culture, too. In the Bay Area, we have a long history of projects that use food as a tool for activism from the Black Panther Party and The Diggers in the 1960s, onward all the way through to today. Today there are so many incredible projects like Alemany Farm, The Gill Tract Farm and Sogorea Te, Acta Non Verba, Planting Justice, Urban Tilth, Community Grows, Florence Fang Community Farm, and shout out to our close community partners Hummingbird Farm & Urban Sprouts. These activist projects—just to name a few—focus on food, justice, and a (re)connection to land. Through projects like this, communities are working to address the need for more food access and more decision making power over our food through growing, distributing, and connecting deeply to the plants we grow and eat.
On a recent Friday, after working with a team of long-term volunteers and former interns, I loaded up boxes and boxes of produce for distribution to the Free Farm Stand and Food Pantry in the neighboring Alemany Apartments. This big late-summer harvest included lemon cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, zucchini and zucchini flowers, basil, purslane, cherry tomatoes, and of course greens, greens, and more greens! We added boxes of kale, collards, rainbow chard, and lettuce to the already full cart and were ready to send it off to be distributed for free through our partners to support San Franciscans who might not otherwise have access to fresh food grown nearby. Growing food collectively, connecting to place, and being in partnership with other organizations doing this work to connect more San Franciscans to produce is all a part of the food justice mission of Alemany Farm.
While SF is known for its activism, its many cultures, its food, and its vibrancy (all true!), SF has also been and continues to be the site of race and class inequality which limits access to so many things, including food. This history and, let’s be honest, present day blight on our social fabric, is why centering activism and justice in our food project here at Alemany Farm is so critically important. Alemany is a place to practice relationships to land, place, people, and food that allows all to joyfully participate and be nourished. Practice is a big word here for me. We haven’t perfected anything but we’re very interested in getting honest, telling the whole story, and getting experimental. We want to remember, study, and practice old ways—maintained today by indigenous everywhere—and bring in new ways where relationships to land, place, people, and food allow all to participate joyfully, and be nourished.
If you have been on site in the past year to walk through or volunteer, thank you! If you have joined via video conference or online, thank you! If you have eaten something grown at Alemany Farm, thank you!
Hope to see you out there,
Late summer bounty: A farm volunteer reaches for an artichoke to bring home. Photo by Heather Weiss
Dear Farm Friends,
Join us for our second and final fall plant sale on Saturday, October 23, 10 am – 1 pm at Alemany Farm! We will have a variety of seasonally-appropriate food crop plants, plus culinary and medicinal herbs. (A detailed list of offerings will be available closer to sale date.) Our inventory usually moves quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute to show up! The Alemany farmers will be on hand to meet, greet, and consult with you. Cash only, please. All proceeds benefit Friends of Alemany Farm, a fiscally-sponsored project of Earth Island Institute.
Parking is available off the gravel driveway inside the farm gate. Masks required.
Please also check out our lineup of fall workshops, several of which will be held on site at Alemany Farm!
- Water Gardening & Pond Restoration – Sept 25
- Organic Fall Vegetable Gardening & Cover Crops – Oct 2
- Natural Dyes: A Rainbow from the Garden – Oct 10
- We Can Pickle That!: Carrots and Kraut – Oct 16
- …and more to be announced.
Find details and registration links on our Workshops page.
We are pleased to announce that we have made the move to a new fiscal sponsor: As of July 1, Friends of Alemany Farm is a sponsored project of Earth Island Institute. Founded by environmentalist David Brower and based here in the Bay Area, Earth Island has an excellent, 30-year-plus track record of fiscal sponsorship, and currently has a vibrant network of more than 75 projects – which now includes us!
Since 1982, Earth Island has been a hub for grassroots campaigns dedicated to conserving, preserving, and restoring the ecosystems on which life depends. Earth Island provides comprehensive fiscal sponsorship and project support to a vibrant network of activists and social entrepreneurs promoting ecological sustainability and environmental justice.
We are excited about this change, and are confident that Earth Island will provide us with high quality financial management and organizational support.
Please note that all donations to Friends of Alemany Farm will now be made via Earth Island Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Please visit our Donate page, which is updated with new links and fiscal sponsor information.
As always, thank you for your support – and thank you Earth Island for your fiscal sponsorship!
To learn more about Earth Island, visit earthisland.org.
Mondays & Saturdays, 1 – 5 pm
Come volunteer with Friends of Alemany Farm! Learn new ways to grow fruits and vegetables in an urban setting while supporting our food security programs.
We are excited to start welcoming volunteers back to the farm. Everyone, young or old, experienced and/or still learning, is welcome to join our community workdays held currently on Monday and Saturday afternoons from 1 to 5 pm. We are welcoming up to 15 volunteers per day** and registration is required in advance. Masks still required.
** Space is limited due to continuing pandemic restrictions. Please only sign up for what you can commit to and let us know ASAP if you do not plan to attend so we can open your space to someone on the wait list.
Thank you for your incredible generosity.
With deep gratitude and sincere delight we are happy to report: Thanks to you, Friends of Alemany Farm raised a grand total of $77,000 in our largest-ever fundraising campaign to date. Last summer, our budget spoke for itself: We had to raise at least $75K in the next six months to keep the farm bills paid. With two full-time staff, skyrocketing demand for fresh food and farm programming, and reduced revenue due to the pandemic, we found ourselves in a very different financial world, where our need – and our local community’s – was greater than ever. With some trepidation and uncertainty, we resolved to ask our community for more than we ever had before.
And wow, talk about an abundant harvest! Month after month, we were floored by your generosity. From our fall plant sale all the way through to our spring fundraiser sale, from year-end donations at the holidays, to a slew of offerings made to our Paid Apprentice fundraiser, to the influx of gifts in April in response to the Friends’ $6K “Farm Team Challenge” … slowly and steadily you helped us meet our goal, and right on time. When we launched the campaign in September, we hoped to cross the finish line by April 24; and we tallied $77K on that very day!
Thank you for making Alemany Farm possible: We owe the continuous flow of free food and community energy to your helping hands, our educational offerings to your joyful collaboration, and our capable staff to your abundant financial support. For the contributions of more than 250 donors whose gifts, big and small, made this milestone possible, we say “Thank you very much!”
If you didn’t have a chance to support our 15th Anniversary campaign, rest assured it’s never too late to make a gift. Help us get started on our next 15 years!
With all gratitude and celebration,
The Farm Team
Join 12 dedicated team members in support of Alemany Farm.
Double your donation by April 24!
Dear Farm Friends,
We’re excited to report that since launching our 15th Anniversary Campaign in October, we’ve raised $57K of our $75K total goal. We are humbled by this support, especially in a time of so much loss and limitation.
To help us reach our total campaign goal by April 24, twelve of our dedicated volunteers and team members have pooled their resources for the FARM TEAM CHALLENGE GRANT: We’ll match gifts up to $6,150 with an eye on the ultimate goal of getting us to our $75K sweet spot by April 24.
When we undertook our first modest year-end giving appeal in December 2010 ($1,300 from 22 generous first-time donors) we did not imagine that we would ever aim – or need – to set a goal of $75K. Much less that we’d be within sight of reaching it.
But through the years we’ve grown: our activities and programs, our partnerships, our impact and reach, our budget … and our community of support.
If you haven’t yet made a gift to our campaign, please donate today. You can double your donation through the challenge grant, but just as importantly, you can join with us – your peers – in support of Alemany Farm and all the work we do here. The twelve contributors to this challenge grant are some of the folks who’ve been showing up for years to engage the public in our farm work and in the thriving community that has grown here. On the occasion of our 15th anniversary, help us affirm all of this good work and our shared vision for the years to come.
Here’s why a few of our Farm Team Challenge contributors are pledging their financial support to Friends of Alemany Farm:
“…because my neighbors and their families deserve access to fresh, local, organic produce. With good food comes good health, and with the ability to grow one’s own vegetables comes the potential for lifelong nourishment for oneself and one’s communities.”
“…because I believe access to the earth and her gifts is a birthright.”
“…in a year when it has often been hard to imagine the future, my pledge is a way to show faith that the farm and our work here will continue to provide deep sustenance and a sense of place to many people in the years to come.”
Why will YOU donate?
Make an online donation and let us know why you’re joining us
to support Friends of Alemany Farm.
When you donate to our campaign, you are supporting:
- Growing, harvesting, and distributing fresh produce for free in SF year-round. (We managed to grow over 25,000 of produce in 2020 despite severely reduced staffing. Our work to address food insecurity has never been more important.)
- Our internship program and new paid apprenticeship for underserved BIPOC youth. (Our campaign has raised $7.5K specifically for the paid apprenticeship program, which engaged three individuals in its pilot season.)
- Low-to-no-cost workshops for the public on a range of accessible topics. (Our pandemic era virtual workshops have drawn hundreds of attendees from the Bay Area and beyond.)
- Our popular community workdays and farm visits open to all, regardless of experience. (We can’t wait to resume volunteer workdays again in 2021.)
- Environmental stewardship and regenerative agriculture. (We model simple, local, and replicable methods in response to the climate crisis.)
- Local, grassroots action and resilience.
- A productive and nourishing public green space and habitat that offers refuge for creatures of many species.
None of this can happen without dedicated staff, volunteers, and donors!
In solidarity and with gratitude,
The Farm Team Challengers
(Abby, Bonnie Rose, Chris, Erik, Evan, Francois, Jack, Jason, LisaRuth, Nick, Taleen, and Youngjin)
Stop by, say hello, get your garden started, and support the farm!
Alemany Farm, 700 Alemany Blvd, SF, CA
Saturday, April 17, 10 am to 1 pm
Saturday, April 24, 10 am to 1 pm
Offerings will include: Summer squash, tomatoes (limited quantity on 4/17, more on 4/24), peppers, cabbage, kale, chard, lettuce, choi, mustard, broccoli, herbs, lavender, ground cherries, alstroemeria, and more. Check out this full list of plant sale offerings and instructions for care.
Suggested Donation: $5 per plant. Cash only, please! Bring your own box or tray to carry your plants home.
All proceeds support farm operations via Friends of Alemany Farm.
Dear Farm Friends,
Happy new year to you!
First, many thanks to our community for your donations at year-end. We are heartened and humbled by your response to our appeal for financial support: Thanks to you, we are now halfway to our goal of raising $75,000 by Earth Day!
If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to donate to help us get 2021 off to a strong start and move us further along to our goal. Visit our 15th Anniversary Campaign page for a summary of 2020 accomplishments, the hows and whys of donating, and a photo garden that offers a peek into Friends of Alemany Farm’s 15 years at the farm. And if you’re able, make a gift!
This month, we’re piloting a new feature. Since we still can’t invite you out to the farm to learn, grow, and volunteer with us, we’re bringing some of our farm knowledge to you. So gather round for some seasonal know-how from our farmers. It may even help you out with your home garden if you have one:
Winter Tasks and Tales from the Farm
Cover crop … Mulching … Fruit tree care
If you’ve visited Alemany Farm in winter or early spring, you’ve likely seen some lush beds labeled “Cover Crop.” If you’ve volunteered, you may have helped sow or chop these beds. Co-Director Jack Thomas offers some fundamentals:
Cover Crop: What is it, and why is it good for the Earth, for vegetables, and for people?
The gist: A key component of environmentally regenerative agriculture is building soil organic matter (SOM). Global soil fertility is plummeting at a rate of 23 billion tons per year due to industrial agriculture practices like tillage and fertilizing with synthetic chemicals. These methods decrease the soil’s organic matter, remove its ability to hold water like a sponge, and effectively bulldoze habitat for billions of essential soil microbes per teaspoon of soil. Bad.
What can you do? One method of increasing SOM and building soil health is with cover crops. Each fall we sow a special mixture of seeds into selected beds where we will not grow food crops during winter months. These plants — fava, vetch, rye, bell beans, and others — are “nitrogen fixing.” This means that as they grow, they draw nitrogen into the soil from the atmosphere and store it in their root system, to be taken up later in the plant’s life to help with flower and fruit production. Not only do these cover crops restore nitrogen — a vital ingredient in all green growth — they also catch raindrops, minimizing soil compaction. And their root systems help retain soil structure to boot.
Each spring, we chop down the cover crop before it can take up the nitrogen in its root. We leave the roots in place, leaving the soil intact, rich with microbiology, and flush with nitrogen to nourish the crops that will grow there in the spring and summer. No tractor, no chemicals, no electricity; just a respectful, intelligent, mutually beneficial collaboration between people and nature.
Co-Director Abby Bell offers the whys and wherefores of some other winter chores:
Mulch! If your garden is not mulched, this is a good time to make sure that your soils are covered.
Covering the exposed soil around your plants suppresses weed growth, reduces erosion, retains soil moisture and warmth, and builds organic matter content in your soil. At Alemany Farm, we like to use straw to mulch around our annual veggies, and wood chips to mulch around hardier plants like fruit trees, perennials, and pathways. (Your local garden store may have other mulch options.) Your soil’s beneficial microorganisms and fungi feed on the mulch and eventually help it decompose into your soil, adding rich humus or organic matter.
Note: Do not mix the mulch into the soil. Keep it as a covering or else the decomposition process can tie up nitrogen within your soil. Also, be aware that mulch in the winter creates habitat for slugs and snails, so keep on the lookout for these garden pests.
Bare root fruit trees: If you have space and desire to plant a fruit tree in your garden, now is the time! Many nurseries are now taking orders for trees. Winter is the time to plant those trees in your gardens. Bare root trees are dormant and look like a stick and some roots, but don’t be fooled! They are just sleeping and will leaf and bud out in the springtime. Not only are bare root trees easier to transport and plant than trees transplanted from containers, but they often have better performance because they are not root bound, do not go through transplant shock, and they tend to have more time for their roots to acclimate, grow, and take hold before the spring comes.
Winter fruit tree pruning: January in the Bay Area, once your deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, is a good time to think about winter pruning. This is an opportunity to begin or continue a conversation with your tree, to support its structure and air flow in order to enhance fruit production in the spring and summer. Remember that winter pruning creates a stimulating response for the trees. We hope to offer some winter pruning classes at Alemany Farm this year if we can safely do so.
Thank you again for helping to grow food security and ecological knowledge in San Francisco by supporting Alemany Farm! Be on the lookout for news about upcoming workshops and other events. With your support, we can look forward together to the next 15 years of local grassroots action!
The Farm Team