April Update from the Farm

A person rinses produce in a bucket near crates full of various fresh produce
Farm Manager Abby Bell works on the Friday harvest. Last week, we harvested 150 lbs of produce for the Alemany Public Housing food pantry, and for the Free Farm Stand. Photo by Jack Thomas.
Triptych of photos showing purple lupine at right; butter lettuce at center; and yellow blossom of flannel bush with ceanothus at right.
Signs of spring at the farm. Left to right: Sky lupine in the front garden; lettuce in the main garden; flannel bush and ceanothus in native plant area. Photos by Jack Thomas and Abby Bell.

Dear Farm Friends,

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep the spring from coming.” In the midst of our current public health crisis, so much seems changed, interrupted, and uncertain. And yet, at Alemany Farm and at farms and gardens all over, spring arrives, life asserts itself, and the crops continue to grow.

Activities at Alemany Farm are necessarily limited at the moment: no volunteering, no workshops, no events. But be assured that the farm is being cared for and that Friends of Alemany Farm remains committed to growing healthy food for residents of San Francisco and to stewarding this beloved green sanctuary for humans and wildlife alike. The City has designated our work at the farm as an essential service during the shelter-in-place order – an important recognition of the work we do to feed low-income families in San Francisco. Farm Manager Abby Bell and Assistant Manager Jack Thomas are on site doing essential cultivation and maintenance on Mondays and Fridays, in coordination with two staffers from the Recreation & Park Department. Last week they planted new beds of collards, beets, cilantro, onions, choi, and lettuce, ensuring that the Farm will continue to offer food in the months ahead.

There is a saying among farmers: “Food is medicine.” This moment is reminding us how essential it is to eat healthy, fresh foods that can support our immune systems, and how vital farms and gardens are. Like clean air and water, we need healthy food to survive. Abby and Jack’s work on the farm with our SFRPD partners includes not only keeping the crops growing, but continuing our weekly harvest donations each Friday for the food pantry in the neighboring Alemany Public Housing community, and for the Free Farm Stand, which gives away free produce each Sunday in the Mission District. Neighbors are also coming by to find a bit of fresh air and to harvest produce for themselves and their families. In this way, Friends of Alemany Farm is sustaining the work we’ve done for 15 years and supporting folks who may be especially vulnerable at this moment.

During this time when we can’t work together with you in the garden, we hope we’ll all continue to cultivate community spirit, even at a distance. We hope these photos from the farm to help you feel connected.  Another way to connect is with a gift. Roughly 30% of our annual budget evaporated with the cancellation of many springtime events. If you are moved to support us with a donation, it will sustain the essential work of providing fresh, healthy, free food for the folks who need it most. We know many people are experiencing financial hardship and uncertainty right now. However, if you are able to donate, we will be most grateful for a gift of any size.

Like many of the City’s parks and green spaces, Alemany Farm remains open for folks to visit while observing social and physical distancing guidelines to help control the spread of COVID-19. Nearby friends and neighbors are welcome to come by to catch a break and a breath of fresh air, to pick some fresh produce, and to get a sweet taste of spring.

We will keep in touch with you in the coming weeks with more photos and updates from the farm. In the meantime, we wish you good health, a good night’s sleep, nourishing meals, a sense of connection, and an experience of spring wherever you can find it.

Please donate if you can.