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Documents: Gardening From: Gardening From Southern California:

Mission's Free Farm Stand gives away nearly 50,000 pounds

of Food but looses the farm
by Gary Smith
November 19, 2013

This was supposed to be a heartwarming and timely pitch about a local "Thanksgiving hero" feeding the needy, but as it happens, the story has recently become less cheerful.

Run by a man named Tree, the Free Farm Stand (http://thefreefarm.org) at Parque NiƱos Unidos on 23rd Street and Treat gives away locally grown fresh produce to low-income families and individuals. To date local residents have received nearly 50,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables -- surplus food collected from farmers markets, community and private gardens, and from a vacant lot at Eddy and Gough farmed by Tree and volunteers.

Along with free produce, Tree promotes good nutrition, and teaches urban gardening to those who have the space to grow their own food. Most importantly, he has fostered a sense of community empowerment and engagement that's being lost in an area where high rents are pushing less affluent residents out.

Tree's work so impressed Berkeley-based nonprofit The Pollination Project (http://thepollinationproject.org) that two weeks ago they awarded him a small grant to expand his program. But Tree received word that the lot at Eddy and Gough, where a large portion of the Free Farm Stand's produce is grown, would soon become a 100-unit apartment building. Tree urgently needs to find a new location to turn into a food-bearing garden, with space for the greenhouse where he grows vegetable seedlings that are given away to the community.

In the meantime Tree and his volunteers will continue to collect surplus food, and the Free Farm Stand will keep operating, because Tree knows there is great need in the community he feeds.

The Pollination Project is eager to help the Free Farm find a new location, and thought that some media attention might help. Please let me know if you'd like to speak to Tree or meet him at the farm some day soon.

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