On November 20 2012, the San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously approved a 20-year lease agreement providing Central Coast Grown the opportunity to manage an 18-acre parcel of highly productive and visible farmland owned by the City. Central Coast Grown will administer what from now on will be known as “SLO City Farm” to produce fresh healthy food for residents, provide education about farming to school children and interested adults, and offer business opportunities to local farmers.
This agreement represents a milestone in a visioning and planning process by City Government and volunteer residents extending back to 1994. At that time the City’s General Plan declared the intention “to preserve at least one half of [the 180 acre] signature working agricultural landscape at the southern gateway to San Luis Obispo …”
The agreement implements a provision of the City’s Master Plan for the long-term development of what it has labeled the Calle Joachin Agricultural Reserve. This Master Plan was developed collaboratively by CCAN and City Staff and approved by the Council in 2010.
At present the City owns 25 acres of the Reserve, 18 of which consist of prime soils suitable for year-round cropping and sufficient ground water for irrigation. The agreement offers this land at nominal rent in exchange for Central Coast Grown’s providing the infrastructure and management to get the land into production by one or more commercial farmers and also for developing the demonstration projects and educational programs that will serve the local community.
The agreement is cause for celebration because it allows the City to achieve a long-sought goal with minimal expenditure of public funds or staff time by utilizing Central Coast Grown’s tested volunteer, professional and organizational resources. This project advances Central Coast Grown’s underlying mission “to champion a sustainable local and regional food system to ensure a nourishing, diverse and abundant supply of food that is resilient, safe and secure.” Managing SLO City Farm will promote Central Coast Grown’s own institutional growth and will pave the way for it to bring more high quality public lands into the local food system by making them available for lease by for-profit farmers.
Central Coast Grown has worked with City Staff to develop mutual milestones for programming, education, and business development for the first ten years of the project. It has been working on the siting and installation of an agricultural well before the Fall 2014 growing season.
As a consequence of completing the agreement Central Coast Grown will release a request for proposals for farmers to lease the land in early February 2013. Interested members of the public, especially farmers looking to submit a lease proposal, should visit the Central Coast Grown website