Tag Archives: San Francisco

Plants in the Ground at the Sanctuary Shelter

Check out the progress we’ve made at the Sanctuary Shelter at Howard and 8th!

We’ve got broccoli, tomatoes, kale, squash, and lettuce in the ground now.
Last week’s workday had clients, employees, volunteers, and myself (an employee of Cultivate Diocal) all working together to grow food at the Sanctuary Shelter garden.
At every Thursday workday we continue to build into our vision of food growing and community building in an otherwise unused space in San Francisco.  

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Gratitude for Weeds…

“If the earth does grow inhospitable toward human presence, it is primarily because we have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants, our sense of gratitude, our capacity for the awesome, for the numinous quality of every earthly reality.” — Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth.

In mid-January of this year, a small group of dreamers, representing several non-profits and faith-based organizations (including the Diocese of California and Holy Innocents’, San Francisco) got together and began to cultivate a vacant lot in San Francisco. In the course of three months, with a budget next to nothing, we’ve gone from harvesting used syringes and broken glass to fresh organic vegetables.

Dependent on the generosity and commitment of volunteers, the curiosity and resourcefulness of neighbors, and the loan of an empty parcel from St. Paulus Lutheran Church, something new is astir on the corner of Gough and Eddy streets. It’s called the Free Farm .

Now, in mid-April, under cover of great big collard leaves, weeds are emerging at the Free Farm. In deference to the collards, I will pull these weeds, but why? Is there a Christian ethic of pulling weeds?

When pulling weeds there are at least two possible ways to approach the task. In the first (and more common) case, one could see them as invasive little punks rearing their ugly heads, daring to intrude on a carefully planted plot of land. Pull, pull, pull! Stay on top of them, the little buggers! This is the mentality of scarcity, of fear, and self-preservation.

However, I would like to present an alternative approach. Rather than view the weeds as a nuisance, I might see each weed as a chance for spiritual practice. In this way, I would welcome the weed as a fellow being, as a seed or a root fulfilled. I might admire its skill, its knowledge, its own subjective desire to grow. If I did this, I might find myself amazed by the weed’s resourcefulness, opportunism, and ability to take advantage of the tiniest micro-climate.

In some small way, each weed gives me an opportunity to practice hospitality. I call each by name: “Hello lambs quarter, lupine, oxalis.” (Yes, even oxalis, arrrgh!) Each offers me the chance to practice gratitude. Even as I pull the weed, I give thanks for what it will add to the compost pile. Each weed is a confirmation that we have created a space that these weeds have confused for a real-life working farm. This is the perspective of abundance.

Viewed in this way, each weed is a sacrament. In Jesus the Heretic, the English parson Conrad Noel wrote: “Every wayside flower is a sacrament of his Body and Blood.” The same is true of weeds. Each one provides for us the chance to cultivate within ourselves a posture of hospitality and gratitude. It is a moment to practice the transition from scarcity to abundance. Our ability to develop this disposition of heart, mind, and spirit is crucial, as we seek to live justly, and in peace, on this finite planet.


Originally published in Pacific Church News, Summer 2010, Vol. 147 no. 2

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Mini Farm Stand at the Free Farm


Harvest begins at The Free Farm.

Griff and Steven set up a miniature free farm stand on Eddy Street

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The Free Farm in the News!

Thanks to everyone who is making this project a huge success.  Come visit us Weds or Saturday 10am-2pm, or by appointment.  Come get yer hands dirty!

Link to Article:

Free Farm plants seeds of community, generousity

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Mulch arrives at Sanctuary Shelter!

The garden space behind ECS Sanctuary Shelter underwent a magnificent transformation today.  About 13 cubic yards of very fine mulch was delivered by Bayview Greenwaste (a tremendous source for FREE woodchips and mulch).

My friend Ryan, founder of Fixed Studios, wheelbarrows a load of mulch.  Ryan has volunteered countless hrs to help get this garden up and running.  Below he assembles one of our new redwood planters (from salvaged SF Dump wood).  Known for his attention to detail,  even let me use the super fancy saw at his shop.

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The Free Farm!

Cultivate DioCal is a core-collaborator on the Free Farm, at  the corner of Gough and Eddy Streets in San Francisco.

The Free Farm exists to grow organic produce, foster garden education, and build community. The food grown is offered to the community for free in an effort to combat hunger, aid health and nutrition, and increase resource sharing and care for one another.

Please join us for one of our workdays, Saturdays and Wednesdays from 10am to 2pm (closed during heavy rain). Everyone is welcome, there are many tasks for people of all skill levels and physical abilities (please note that the site has limited wheelchair access at this time.)  If you would like to schedule another time to visit with your parish or youth group please contact griff[at]diocal[dot]org.

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Planting Continues at Sanctuary Shelter with the help of the Oregon Extension

On Saturday, November 14th, about a dozen college students from the Oregon Extension teamed up with ECS clients to plant a variety of brassicas.

About a half dozen upstart cauliflower plants, some young cabbages, and several kinds of flowering kale were all eager to get out of their pots and into fresh soil!

The kale and cabbage were kindly donated by the garden department at Cole Hardware, which needed to make room for a new shipment of poinsettias. (I guess its that time of year…)  Wendy Johnson provided the cauliflower which came from the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center greenhouse.  The rain held off until the very last plant was in the ground.  Then the skies opened up!

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