San Francisco Recreation and Park Department officials who informed the Free Food Stand earlier this month that it would have to move out of Parque Niños Unidos said today in an email to the community that they are meeting with Dennis “Tree” Rubenstein, who runs the stand, and “working to find a good solution that can keep this open and available for the community at this site and still balance the various needs for our parks.
“Thank you for your email and sharing your concerns and expressing the importance of the Free Farm Stand to the community,” the e-mail, sent at 5:32 p.m., continued. “We look forward to getting back to everyone shortly. Thank you for your patience and for your input. It is very helpful.”
The email was signed by Dana Ketcham, manager of permits and reservations, and Eric Anderson, the park services manager for Area 6.
Connie Chan, a spokeswoman for the parks department, said Monday that the city had received four official complaints regarding the Free Farm Stand, one by phone and the others via email. Chan said that one of the complaints was from parents who raised concerns over the stand’s crowd disrupting a children’s birthday party at the rented clubhouse.
It was those complaints that helped persuade Rec and Park that the stand, which operates from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays, had outgrown the park and should move elsewhere.
However, the community has rallied around Tree and the stand, which has operated since 2008.
Chan said the city has received some 30 community responses. “Some have written explicitly in support of Farm Stand but some are just questioning what RPD is going to do, which we could not judge whether they are support or oppose Farm Stand,” Chan wrote on Monday.
Farm Stand visitors held hands last Sunday, expressing appreciation and hope for the stand’s future. For Rubenstein, a major purpose of the stand is to build community stewardship and to share the bounty with his neighbors.
Parents said on Sunday that they appreciate the free produce, which contributes to their children’s health and family’s wellbeing.