Saturday, January 30, 2010

SF Underground Farmers Market

Thursday was the SF underground farmers market in the Mission
 My friend Julia from Pandora's Bread Box told me about it. 
It seemed like the perfect venue to d├ębut my veggies. I was quite nervous because I had never sold my vegetables before and wasn't quite sure I would have enough to sell. It is mid January after all - not the best time for farming, but I went for it.

Check out Pandora's review of the event here:

Farmers Market was on the same day as my grandmother's 85th birthday so I dedicate this to her and to my grandfather who was a real farmer. He had a ranch in Ahualulco, Mexico, there he thought me the joys of feeling the soil in my hands, running with the sprinklers on a hot day, eating a fresh picked tomato ripened in the vine, finding the huitlacoche mushrooms on the corn fields, and drinking fresh milk from the cows. When picking fruit from the trees he said I should always look for the ones that were bitten by birds because birds know the best riped fruit - he was right. 

It was a lot of work to set up for the market, but definitely the one who worked the most was Rob. He built me this beautiful table and smaller version to set the vegetables on. He also carved the sign for chicken cribs. The table is a larger version of the modular zome builder toy. It totally comes apart for easy transport and we assemble it on site, it took like 10 minutes.

Turns out, I had plenty of greens to fill the table and make it look like a legit farmer.
I brought: mixed greens for salad (that included about 7 different lettuces), a few kinds of mustard greens, Japanese spinach, Purple Kale, rainbow chard, beat greens (Horta - I learned to enjoy it in Greece), and Collard greens. I also brought herbs: rosemary, cilantro, chervil,  parsley, oregano. And some roots which were ready: daikon radishes and parsnips.


Veggie bounty even in the winter. I was very happy with how the table looked


I shared the table with Andreas and his chicken cribs, we also had information about the zome system as a greenhouse or any garden structure. It was really good to have him there and be promoting not just the vegetables but an entire  urban farmer system. Every body should be doing it themselves. And that really, was the main point of being there.

Even the Magic Curry Cart Guy "The Godfather of the street food movement" came looking for some Thai basil. Sorry Brian not till the summer. Look for Magic Curry Cart Guy on the food network soon. You can also follow him on twitter
I used one of the many zome models that we have in the house as a lemon holder. People loved reaching in to get their lemons-it worked perfect!

This picture is taken right before the event started.

So exactly at 5 pm when the event started, it got crowded and the crowd did not stop till the end of the event. It was so packed that you could not even walk. A coworker that tried to get in described it as a club scene, there was a line that went around the block, so just to get in you had to wait about half hour and then try to make your way through the narrow paths between the vendors.

The space was a warehouse above a motorcycle repair shop on 17th and Capp, which is one of the sketchiest corners in the city. Prime location for an underground farmers market, but honestly I think we need a space about 6 times bigger.


Tons of media and reporters- can you see Rob in the crowd?
The crowd was more on the foodie hipster side who came to the "farmers market" hungry after work and wanted instant gratification of the many delicious options of processed foods that were at the market. Not really the grocery shopping crowd. I was the only one with real vegetables and one of the few with unprocessed goods. However, it was very much appreciated and at the end of the day I sold out.

Here’s an article from the Examiner. Foodscaping and Pandora’s Bread Box were highlighted!
Check out the photo slide show on both links


Over all I thought it was a great experience. I only had one haggler, comparing my prices with those of grocery stores, and even after I offer him a discount he walked away with his nose in the air. Seriously, how can I quantify the love that I give to my plants, and the two years of labor to get the soils full of nutrients so that they can be productive. There was a girl who was upset because the kale had holes, didn't I had any with out holes, she asked. Some times I wonder if people really understand the concept of organic - no pesticides, no chemicals. Which means bugs, tons of bugs. And as much as I try to have an integrative pest management, which means even more bugs (beneficial's  that eat the not so welcomed bugs that make holes in your chard) we still have to share our crop with bugs. I tried to explain to this to the girl and told her that she should actually look for holes in her veggies this is a good indicator that there are no pesticides in your food.

I'm not going to get rich doing this, that is for sure, but I feel like this kind of event is a good place for education and I like to think that my example might get some people excited and bring some awareness to the local food movement and the importance of doing it at any level. We should all be growing food. 


Here's Rob at his shop working till right before the event. The shop bot is still cutting pieces for the table. 


This are the miniature table stands, using the zome builder toy as legs and the table top is bamboo - which is food safe 


Rob wanted to make sure the table was strong enough to hold the vegetables... So he got on top 

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 2010 - Mycelium

We have mushrooms growing all over the garden. This is great news. 
Basically having mushrooms in your garden is a sign of healthy soils

Mushrooms are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus produced above ground but the real magic is underground in the mycelium. Mycelium (plural mycelia) is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae.

And why is this so exciting?
This means that the garden soil has myceluim growing underground. 
Mycelium is vital in the ecosystem for its role in the decomposition of plant material. It contributes to the organic fraction of soil and its growth releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The mycelium of mycorrhizal fungi increases the efficiency of water and nutrient absorption of most plants and confers resistance to some plant pathogens. Mycelium is an important food source for many soil invertebrates.

Giancarlo inoculated the garden soil with edible fungi spores a few months ago and it seems like its working.
 Mushrooms reproduce by spores that grow under the cap, spores are similar to seeds but they microscopic and store less energy.
Since they are impossible to see, the spores are mixed with water, it is easier to spread them in a large space for inoculation. 
The inoculation process looks something like this picture, we put the top of the mushroom in a bucket of water, the water now has the spores and that water is spread throughout the garden. The spores will "germinate" when they have the right conditions. Basically inoculation means "planting" spores.

All kinds of mushrooms came up, different species than the ones that Giancarlo had planted.
This one for example. I'm not sure what it is, but they are everywhere.
I think it is a  Lactarius cf. rufulus  but I'm not sure nor am I ready to eat it. If any body knows do tell me.

 I think its time to sign up for a mycology class.

There is also this mushroom growing in the greenhouse. Any ideas what it can be?
It is probably some kind of Ascomycete, maybe a Peziza, but I'm not sure

And this cluster of little idea

They are everywhere but they are tiny and hard to see.

This ones are growing in horse manure that we mixed in the soil. There is a possibility that they could be in the Psilocybe genus but again I'm not ready to try them. Any volunteers?

They surely look like they could be Psilocyben no?

And this ones are tiny but I think they are a Lycoperdon sp.

If you are not a big fan of fungi yet. I highly recommend you learn about fungi.
Fungi is it's own kingdom and has the largest living organism on earth.
One of the primary roles of fungi in an ecosystem is to decompose organic compounds. Petroleum products and pesticides that can be contaminants of soil are organic molecules. Fungi therefore has the potential to remove such pollutants from the soil environment, a process known as bioremediation which is being used in brown fields to clean them up.
I leave you with this TED talk on mushrooms: 

Paul Stamets on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

If you want to read more on mushrooms:
Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running, Ten Speed Press,U.S.A. 2005 

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 2010 - The Algarden Zome on MAKE Magazine

The Algarden Zome got a nice write up on Make magazine