Year-End Progress Report on City Farm San Luis Obispo

For the last four years the core mission of our non-profit has been to fulfill the terms of our 20-year lease with the City of San Luis Obispo: to manage the 15 acres of arable land at the Calle Joaquin Agricultural Reserve so as to 1) facilitate production of crops by small commercial organic farmers and 2) to provide educational programs about local agriculture to students and the general public.

During 2017 the City Farm School Project has continued for the fourth year to provide innovative instruction for academic credit to students in the “Farm” class at Pacific Beach Continuation High School with the enthusiastic support of students, teachers and administration.  Throughout the year and during summer school, students walk to the farm with their instructors from their nearby campus twice a week to engage in hands-on learning about soil, irrigation, planting, cultivating, harvesting, cooking and eating the food they grow.

CCG staff and volunteers also provide twice-weekly horticultural therapy sessions to students in the  SLCUSD PREPARE program for developmentally disabled young adults. In addition, CCG tenant and partner, Our Global Family, runs tours and workshops for elementary school students and Farm Girls Summer Camp.

2017 marks the first year of CCG’s Public Education and Outreach programming, which included 1) a February Movie Night at the SLO Guild Hall featuring the film Gaining Ground, 2)our first annual Fall Harvest Festival in October which drew 250 people to the site for workshops, talks, music, yoga, a hayride and showcasing of farm activities, and 3)a series of regular monthly 2nd Saturday work parties in which volunteers are helping to maintain the educational site.

Farm infrastructure underwent dramatic improvements during 2017, with 1)the completion of our classroom and gathering structure, “The Pergola,” by all-volunteer labor, 2)the planting of a surrounding cover crop and lawn, 3)the upgrading of the irrigation system and cooking facilities at the School Garden, 4) 4)the planting of a “food forest” orchard and perennial crop area, 5)the construction of a gated 8-foot deer fence, and 6)the replacement of an aging water pump.

There was movement forward on many fronts for our subtenant farmers during this year as well. After the disastrous floods of last winter, Michael Huggins, proprietor of Dacite Farm, continued to grow and market his specialty crops of turmeric and ginger and erected a large greenhouse powered by his self-designed and constructed wind turbine and solar panels.

Javier Magana, proprietor of Red Barn farms, expanded his operation, which offers daily harvests of seasonal vegetables to local restaurants and farmers markets, by collaborating with the Food Service of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District to provide seasonal produce to the Laguna Middle School kitchens which is included in school lunches to elementary school students throughout the district.

A new subtenant as of October, Josh Carmichael of Carmichael Environmental, has made City Farm the home of his long-standing landscaping enterprise, and has planted a demonstration permaculture garden and orchard as well as food crops in the ground and a greenhouse.

Organizationally, in 2017 Central Coast Grown underwent some dramatic personnel and organizational changes.  We welcomed Ty Griffin as our new Treasurer, Jill Caggiano as a new Board member, Sandra Marshall as part-time outreach coordinator, and Teresa Lees as co-educator.   Board President, Steven Marx, took over as volunteer interim Executive Director, and we are grateful for the continuing Board service of Brian Engleton, John Phillips, Terry Hooker and Josh Carmichael.

All of us are excited about prospects for City Farm’s continued growth of service to the community in 2018.  These will include a Spring and Fall large community celebration, monthly work parties and additional opportunities for people to take part in the activities of a community farm, to purchase vegetables grown onsite, and if energy and finances permit, to participate in the development of animal husbandry and renewable energy projects.

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