Imagine the clearest, purest afternoon in San Francisco, a day on which the sun shines bright, the air is sweet and the effervescent Mission District neighborhood is in full weekend swing. Now, imagine a long line of Mexican immigrants, multi-ethnic hipsters and Noe Valley yuppy mommies with strollers, who are all happily gathered in an orderly fashion outside of Parque Niños Unidos. Under their arms, they carry wicker baskets, recycled plastic bags and canvas totes. What brought together such a diverse crowd of people, and what are they all waiting for? The answer, in short, is food. Specifically, free food. The Free Farm Stand is an a 100-percent volunteer-run project that brings urban garden bounty to the people. With good-for-you food sourced from intra-city farms and guerrilla gardens, to backyard fruit trees and sidewalk-plot herb gardens, the Free Farm Stand sets-up “shop” every Sunday, where tables groan under the weight of bright greens, fresh bread and seasonal fruit. Smiling folks distribute the food, divvying it up so everybody gets a fair share.
The project organizers work to make fresh, nutritious, organic and locally-grown produce accessible to all people, especially those with fixed incomes and tight budgets. It also strives to empower community members through food and sharing, encouraging self-reliance and focus on creating sustainable food systems for families and individuals. The Free Farm Stand also acts as a community garden center where plant “starts” and gardening advice is given freely, with the hope that surplus harvests will return to the farm stand to be shared.