Today’s Walk 6March2010

Hillside of favas (the larger sprouts) and clover (the tiny sprouts) at HVF

I spent all of last week in Oakland for the  greywater installer’s training put on by the fabulous girls at Greywater Action (come back next week to hear all about it!) – and so on my first day back in the city I had to walk down to see what was happening at the Hayes Valley Farm. I encouraged z with promises of the best Vietnamese sandwich (that would be Saigon Sandwich on Larkin at McAlister) and I was encouraged by the beautiful spring day and the promise of fava bean sprouts at the farm. Neither of us were disappointed.

Fruit trees on the old freeway on-ramp

Fava bean and white clover seeds were planted a couple weeks ago on the hillsides that had been sheet mulched and covered with mulch berms a few weeks before that. Both of these are nitrogen fixing plants, which will prepare the berms for the spring planting by  adding nitrogen and speeding up the decomposition process so that the  mulch will become soil and will produce happy vegetables. I knew that with the alternating days of sun and rain the sprouts would be poking through. What I wasn’t prepared for were all the trees on the old Central Freeway on-ramp. I had heard that there were some fruit trees at the farm – but there were a whole lot more than some. And it was beautiful. These fruit trees will be pruned in the Intensive Orchard Culture class on Sunday and then will become part of the food forest taking over the old freeway.

Growing Home Garden

We continued on to see how the Growing Home garden has changed in the last few weeks. I’ve been shirking my garden member responsibilities recently and missed the official grand opening and so was excited to see all the new raised beds and the beautiful compost bins. But my favorite was the renovated shipping container that includes a real door and side windows that open up horizontally to become an awning.  I accosted John Bella from Rebar at a meeting the other day to get the details. As I suspected, the structure will be used as a tool shed, but the section with the windows will be an office. The shipping container was donated by the San Francisco Department of Public Works and the fabrication of the windows and door was done by Recology. I can’t really say why – other than I love when things are reused for something innovative – but I really thought it was absolutely fabulous and every San Francisco farm needs to have one.

Corner of Lilly & Octavia with the renovated shipping container

Our last stop before lunch was at the Hayes Valley Green because I had had brief sightings of the new sculpture and had to go and spend some time. Thanks to the Hayes Valley Art Coalition the park at the end of Octavia Boulevard has hosted many amazing sculpture over the years and so I always keep watch when one leaves to see what’s coming next. I love that that the park in the heart of Hayes Valley has always had public art – and not the sissy little cololorful animals that swepth through so many cities a few years ago. We are blessed with the artistic insanity of the Black Rock Arts Foundation – the same guys who bring us the wonder called Burning Man. At some point I’ll have a longer post on public art and why we should have it in every neighborhood in every town, but until then you can look at some of my favorite works of art around San Francisco here.

Walking up to”Ecstasy” by Karen Cusolito and Dan Das Mann was…I can’t really explain it. She took my breath away. I stared up at her and circled her, for a good 20 mintues while people walked their dogs, chatted and lunched around me while I took a cazillion photos, many of which you can see here.

Ecstasy by Karen Cusolito and Dan Das Mann in the Hayes Green

She is gigantic – 30 feet tall and 6 tons heavy – and made of from salvaged and recycled steel. Scrap and old machine and car parts make up her body, the strands of her hair are used chains and she is held up with 10″ schedule 40 pipe, from a closed factory in Oakland. But shes’ not just some behemoth, towering over the city – she’s delicate and hopefully as she looks toward the sky. The frame holding in all the scrap that makes up her body is a jumble of circles, rectangles and curlicues – she’s just beautiful to look at. And the even more amazing thing, is that she is just one of eight figures of  Crude Awakening that was displayed displayed at the Burning Man festival in Nevada in 2008.

According to the Black Rock Arts Foundation website, “In Crude Awakening, these eight figures surrounded a 99-foot tall wooden oil derrick in gestures of prostration, worship and exaltation. The figures represented the ‘faithful’; the religious peoples of the world in their various postures of worship, all joining together in homage of the ominous symbol of the oil derrick. The installation culminated in a massive firework and fire display, and in the burning of the oil derrick. It was the biggest and most memorable burn to date at the Burning Man event. Alone, Ecstasy embarks on a hopeful journey. Instead of throwing her head back in reverie to the oil derrick, she gazes wistfully into the open sky as she steps forward into the future. Her name expresses a sudden change of attitude and belief in hope; an moment of being overcome by passionate optimism in a future beyond our culture’s dependency on fossil fuel.”

All I can say is… I could use a little ecstasy.

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