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May 26, 2020

Giver, Receiver and Gift: Offerings from Green Gulch Farm

During these days of imposed restriction, it is easy and natural to lament the loss of the easy freedoms that, just a few months ago, we took as given: the ability to meet with friends, to go to a restaurant or bookstore, to pick up an item or two at the grocery store without having to wait in line to enter. And, perhaps most importantly, to walk down a street without a mask and not instinctively shy away from our neighbors. But in the midst of these very real losses, it is good to recall that there are others who face an even more challenging loss: the loss of food due to unemployment, illness, or poverty.

While there are many heroic organizations in the Bay Area committed to making sure that everyone is fed, we are all called, as individuals or as a community, to do our part.

Sara Tashker, the farm manager at Green Gulch Farm, reports on the efforts undertaken there:

Seven students arrived from Tassajara recently and many of them will be working on the farm this season, bringing our crew up to full size. We also have an active social justice group whose members are focusing on augmenting the farm’s labor to harvest and distribute extra produce.

I have been sowing and planting with an eye toward having a regular supply of extra food to donate to those who need it. For many years now we have been working with the SF-Marin Food Bank. The great thing about the Food Bank is that they do pick-ups, so all we have to do is call and they will send a truck. It is a wonderful partnership and we are looking forward to working with them again this season, knowing there is so much need everywhere.

We have long standing relationships with HaMotzi, a food distribution program at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco and with The Cultural Conservancy’s Native Foodways program, a Native-led nonprofit which distributes fresh, organic food to Native community members in the Bay Area. Every week, we send cooked food to Poor Magazine for distribution.

What a gift it is to be able to produce good food and get it to those who need it.

This is how dana paramita (the perfection of giving) moves through our lives.

The Gift—a leaf of chard, an apple, a potato—is called into being by innumerable causes and conditions

The Givers—the farmers, cooks, truck drivers, volunteers—nurture the gift and deliver it to

The Receivers—those who come with empty hands to bless the gift with their acceptance.

San Francisco Zen Center has opened the gates of teaching and practice to all who come to us. But most of those who receive food from the Green Gulch fields may never have heard of SFZC, may never sit in meditation, may have no interest in or ability to hear a talk, or attend a class. For many of these people, the Dharma is food.

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