A tale of six organizations: City Farm–San Luis Obispo model farms

My name is Jeff Nicklas, and I am an intern with Central Coast Grown (CCG) Jeff photo doing research for City Farm, San Luis Obispo. I recently graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Anthropology and Geography, with a concentration in Human Ecology. I joined the CCG team in July 2013 and since then I have been conducting research for our City Farm project to gear up for its agricultural development in the coming months.

The City Farm is an exciting and ambitious project that CCG has been working on for years now. We have secured twenty-one acres of some of the last remaining prime agricultural land from the city in order to maintain and develop it into a site where education, demonstrations, and enjoyment of delicious local foods can occur. Seventeen acres of our land has been leased to one farmer who will cultivate the land for a duration of five years. The remaining land will be divided into small plots that organizations and individuals may lease for the purpose of promoting local, sustainable agriculture in creative and innovative ways.

SLO City Farmland Now Available for Lease!

Most of my research, currently, has involved reaching out to other organizations in the United States and Canada to gather and ascertain effective strategies and ideas that these organizations have used for their own educational agriculture projects. The research gathered has painted a picture of creative methods being implemented nationally and provided inspiration for CCG and City Farm, San Luis Obispo. This research will be critical to the CCG organization especially with the anticipatory launch of City Farm this fall.

Gathering information from other organizations and farming projects enables us at Central Coast Grown to benefit in a multitude of ways. The first is the ability for us to tap into the culture of non-profit agriculture organizations. By seeking out organizations from all corners of the United States we are able to understand the similarities and unique variations in the beliefs and ideas of other organizations and fully grasp how these ideas may or may not fit into the vision of Central Coast Grown. sprouts (wheat grass)Second, just like food production must be built on diversity and resilience, connecting with these varied organizations allows us to build a foundation of different ideas and aspirations that will strengthen the work of Central Coast Grown. Finally, this research instills inspiration by tapping into the passion of these other organizations thousands of miles away. All of the organizations have shown this passion through their willingness to help CCG, through their interesting and innovative projects, and through the excitement and sense of hope I hear when they are talking about the future and change that they hope to bring about.

The entries following this introduction will be a series about each of the six organizations. As I complete my interviews and gather and organize the information, each of the six entries will reflect the conversations I had. As the City Farm comes to fruition, these conversations will further shine through the future endeavors of Central Coast Grown and the further upbringing of locally driven food sources here in San Luis Obispo.

-Jeff Nicklas