A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” —Greek proverb

A Mission resident named Tree is farming a network of people interested in growing, eating and distributing organic produce for free. Every Sunday afternoon, the Free Farm Stand opens in a corner of Parque Niños Unidos, creating a mini-plaza-like atmosphere.

People gather around tables filled with cinderella pumpkins, pears, lemons, bread, herbs, and greens. Conversations ebb and flow while curious children (and adults) enter an open gate to explore the nearby garden. This year the Free Farm Stand has given away more than 3,000 pounds of local produce gleaned or grown by friends and neighbors. This doesn’t include any leftover produce from markets. Newcomers are continually surprised that the food is free.

“Gandhi had his experiments with Truth and I have been having my experiment with planting and growing a Free Farm Stand,” Tree muses in his blog.

Free Farm Stand is a volunteer-run project that especially aims to serve low-income families and individuals on tight budgets. An intergenerational group of mostly women work in its community gardens throughout the Mission.  Children and teens are also involved. Preschoolers from Puddle Jumpers Workshop, a local parent-run co-op, enjoy honing their green thumbs at Treat Commons Community Garden. Mission High students have volunteered to pick fruit for the stand; plans to grow an on-site garden at the high school are in the works.

Families are always welcome to volunteer for the many ongoing tasks that enable the Free Farm Stand to give away food and promote more healthy sustainable community. Small children are invited to help sort vegetables at the tables. Tree feels that compassionate society begins at the dining table; community gardens offer abundant opportunities to learn how to take care of ourselves, of each other, and of the Earth. Even if health care is not available to all, people can still learn how to eat healthy and live healthy lifestyles. This weekend, two big work parties will plant new gardens in neighbors’ backyards on Guerrero Street and near Dolores Park. All are welcome to pitch in! Visit the Free Farm Stand website for details.

Free Farm Stand
Every Sun., 1-3pm. Treat Commons Community Garden, Parque Niños Unidos, Treat Ave and 23rd St. www.freefarmstand.org

Last May, more than 60 people gathered at the Mission High School cafeteria to learn about the SFUSD school food program and brainstorm strategies to provide students with more nutritious, appetizing grub. Voila! The SF School Food Coalition was born. See what these parents and advocates are up to and how to be involved.

Just how much does it cost to make a sandwich at home?

Mission-based Poor Magazine asks, “Is it true that a healthy body is a wealthy body?” Some would say, “The poor get diabetes; the rich get local and organic.”

Urban Sprouts School Gardens aims to grow healthy schools and communities through garden-based education. Download their 2009 Summer Program Cookbook for student-tried and tasty recipes.

After-school program Mission Beacon is highlighted in a BeyondChron article.

Shout-out to Mission Parents Group, an active neighborhood group and good online resource. Some info in this column is from their postings.

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts Youth Fundraiser
Wed., Oct. 7, 6-10pm. $5 (12 and under)-$20; $40 for family of four. Baobab Village, 3372 19th St.

The grand opening of Baobab Village is celebrated with a family-friendly benefit raising money for MCCLA’s youth scholarship programs. Music by MCCLA Youth Bands Futuro Picante and Los Chiles Verdes, Los Compas with Miguel Covea, Mixtiso latin hip-hop and Norberto Martinez. Photos from Mission Loc@l on display; tapas and beverages for sale. mily of four $40

Public Schools 101: Choosing an Elementary School
Wed., Oct. 7, 7-8pm. Mission Branch Library, 300 Bartlett St.

Presented in Spanish only. Free workshop to learn about the public school enrollment process. Get tips and advice from families who’ve been there and done that.

The Goonies Outdoor Film Screening
Thurs., Oct. 8, 7:30pm. Dolores Park.
Kiddie adventure movie from 1985, starring Corey Feldman, Martha Plimpton and Sean Astin on a rollicking treasure hunt.

Science” Fiction Opening Reception
Thurs., Oct. 8, 7-9pm. Creativity Explored, 3245 16th St.

A fantastical array of renderings depicting characters, landscapes and vehicles from the world of science fiction, TV and pulp fiction, as well as original conceptions of future places and beings. Dust off your elfin Vulcan ears; costumes are encouraged. Exhibit runs through Nov. 21.

“Hot Reggae Nights” Benefit for the San Francisco Casa Program
Thurs., Oct. 8. $125. Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission St. (between 21st and 22nd St.)
Approximately 1,800 foster children in San Francisco are victims of abuse and neglect. SFCASA recruits, screens, trains and supervises volunteers who are often the only caring and consistent adult in the life of a child.

Pediatric Vaccinations Class
Fri., Oct. 9, 2-4pm. Natural Resources, 1367 Valencia St.
Dr. Minna Yoon gives an overview on vaccine benefits and risks. Free class but it is full. Call 415-550-2611 to be added to waitlist, or register online for next class in December.

“From the Minds of Babies”
Sun., Oct. 11, noon. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St.

Live radio taping of “Philosophy Talk.” Ken Taylor and John Perry are joined by renowned developmental psychologist and author Alison Gopnik (The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life) in an accessible lively discussion on babies’ minds and what they have to teach us about consciousness, morality, truth, and other imponderable mysteries. Baby’s getting heavy. Your baby is smarter than you think.

And more … Mon., Oct. 12 is Indigenous People’s Day/Columbus Day. Who lived here three thousand years ago? Check out the colorfully cryptic “King Tut Rediscovered” exhibit at Boogaloos restaurant. Travelzoo offers limited discount admission to the “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs” exhibit at the De Young Museum.  Two tickets for the price of one on select dates in October.

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