The commemorative statue of Mahatma Gandhi keeps watch over the farmers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Yesterday, in the spirit of the Halloween season I suppose, the statue was adorned with garlands of flowers.
This month (October 2) marked the 136th birthday of this great leader.
A few days before this date, Jeff Young, one of the most outstanding farmers at our market, passed away from a long-term illness. Jeff's peaceful demeanor, cheerful eyes, and kind smile reminded me of Gandhi, so perhaps it was no small coincidence that his farm stand was positioned under the direct gaze of the statue of this advocate for non-violence.
Jeff (pictured left, from the CUESA website) was particularly well-known at our market for his pristine lettuces and beautifully arranged bouquets of fresh flowers that he grew on a small 2.5 acre farm in Watsonville, 90 miles south of San Francisco. His stand was a routine stop on my market forays, and I never failed to be stunned by the beauty of his perfect little gem lettuces, tiny green and yellow zucchini, or his bunches of basil with the roots still attached.
Amongst farmers, he was renowned for being the first farmer to arrive at the market, always set up and ready to go well before 6 am. In his most recent newsletter, fellow farmer Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm wrote that Jeff's farm was a "little jewel-like epitome of everything you might imagine an organic farm to be."
Jeff is survived by his wife Noelle, who along with friends will continue to run the farm and farm stand until the end of the season. We will all sorely miss Jeff's warm presence and offer Noelle our sincere condolences. The memorial was held at his farm last Sunday.