The Diggers were a radical community-action group of activists and Street Theatre actors operating from 1966 to 1968, based in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.
Their politics have been categorized as “left-wing”; more accurately, they were “community anarchists” who blended a desire for freedom with a consciousness of the community in which they lived.
The group sought to create a mini-society free of money and capitalism.
One of the first Digger activities was the publishing of various broadsides,
which were published by sneaking into the local Students for a Democratic Society office and using their Gestetner printer.
The leaflets were eventually called the “Digger Papers,” and soon morphed into small pamphlets with poetry, psychedelic art, and essays.
The “Digger Papers” often included statements that mocked the prevailing attitude of the counterculture promoted by less radical figures.
The Diggers provided a free food service in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park in Haight-Ashbury every day at four o'clock,
feeding about 100 people with a stew from donated or stolen meat and vegetables that was served from behind a giant yellow picture frame, called the Free Frame of Reference,
which people were required to step through before being served.
The Diggers also popularized whole wheat bread with their Digger Bread, baked in coffee cans at the Free Bakery in the basement of Episcopal All Saints Church on 1350 Waller Street.
In cooperation with All Saints Church and later via the Haight Ashbury Switchboard at 1830 Fell Street, they arranged free “crashpads” for homeless youth drawn to the Haight-Ashbury area.
They opened numerous Free Stores in Haight-Ashbury, in which all items were free for the taking or giving. The stores offered discarded items that were still in usable condition.
The first Free Store, in a six-car garage on Page Street that they found filled with empty picture frames that they tacked up on the side of the building, was called the Free Frame of Reference.
They also opened a Free Medical Clinic, initially by inviting volunteers from the University of California, San Francisco medical school up the hill from the neighborhood.
They threw free parties with music provided by the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and other bands.
They also staged street theater events such as driving a truck of semi-naked belly dancers through the Financial District, inviting brokers to climb on board and forget their work.
The group also fostered and inspired later groups such as the Yippies.
the Diggers moved out of the City, creating various land bases in Forest Knolls, Olema, Covelo, Salmon River, Trinidad, and Black Bear Ranch, California.
In those places they integrated with other groups: The Free Bakery, the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers, and the Gypsy Truckers, creating The Free Family.