I never got a response to my inquiry about volunteering at the garden. So I decided I would just show up.
I went to the Mission and saw a few others looking for the garden. We walked through the parking lot and I was disheartened to see a large, empty, dried-up looking patch of land with a few people working in it. I figured I'd just make the best of it.
It turned out that wasn't the garden at all. The La Huerta garden was like the Garden of Eden. It was filled with food plants and many of them were in full harvesting glory. I was immediately introduced to the organizer and a few other workers and was invited to pick off the tree the creamiest, sweetest banana I've ever tasted.
I spent a couple of hours pulling weeds with a lady named Nancy. Nancy does a lot of bicycling trips and understood what it's like to do a long distance adventure. She also leads cycling trips for other people. If it weren't for liability issues, I might like to lead hikes so I asked her how she deals with that. She solves the liability issue by doing her trips through an organization, not all on her own. I'm not sure an organization would accept a backpacker like me who sent her compass home and never missed it.
After 2 hours I was encouraged to call it a day. I was getting quite tired and the sun was giving me a sunburn so I was happy to put my tools away.
I was led to a pot of popcorn made from the garden's own corn and popped in macadamia nut oil. I was told to go ahead and take anything in the garden that I wanted. I picked a tangerine and with a chuckle a man said go ahead and taste that. It was bitter. It wasn't a tangerine but a bitter orange used for marmalade or cooking. I got to take home a bag full of the little bananas and after resting in the shade eating popcorn talking with some nice women I went home happy I found such a nice volunteer opportunity.