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Early Summer at City Farm SLO

Pacific Beach High School’s second Summer Session at City Farm engaged 15 students, several of whom had participated in initiating the program a year ago. They were excited to see the transformations that had taken place since they worked on laying out the School Garden and preparing the hard ground for first planting.

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As a result of their work all year, and with the additional input of energy by volunteers, the farm manager, and our two recently recruited summer interns, the garden had grown into an attractive, well equipped and productive resource.

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Probably because the heavy clay soil took a long time to warm up, the late-ripening crops seemed to burst into maturity. The corn was earing, the peas were plumping, and the flowers planted from seed in February blossomed, both ornamenting and protecting the vegetables by attracting beneficial insects that prey upon pests.

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Despite the unrelenting winds sweeping in from the ocean, the three-sisters combination of corn, beans, and squash behaved as intended, supporting each other both below and above the surface of the soil.

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Students harvested the dried seeds of fava beans reserved after the earlier harvest for fall planting.

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They continued preparing and feasting on new stir-fries and salads and took home bags of produce to share with their families.

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At the next-to-last class, they listened to an inspirational a talk by Jim Brabeck, CEO of Farm Supply Company who also inaugurated the new tool shed erected with the help of  a grant from the San Luis Obispo Rotary Club.

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The Garden also welcomed an unexpected visit by children on a field trip with the YMCA summer day camp. They came just in time to flex their fingers in the harvest of EZ pick green beans.

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[Niko Comati photo]

Summer’s extended daylight and warmth, along with the infusion of tons of organic compost over the last six months, brought some sudden plentiful harvests to the half-acre of row crops planted next to the school garden.

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Farm manager and educator, Nicki Anderson, wore two hats at once, training teams of students in the professional methods of planting, cultivating and harvesting at commercial scale, while utilizing their energy to help get the job done. By the end of the June summer session, they had made hundreds of pounds of  donations to the Food Bank and Salvation Army Food Pantry and had grown the germinal marketing program with sales of snow peas, summer squash, beans and lettuce to local restaurants and grocery stores

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[Quillan Smith photo]

Our tenants’ activity also flourished during this month. Our Global Family held its Family Day on June 27.  Green Gold Organic Farms began harvesting and distributing its full range of specialty peppers and planted corn, beans, peas and parsley.

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Our new tenant, Javier Magana, fenced, irrigated and planted five acres of tomatillos and other crops which should soon will be ready for sale through his established farmers market outlets and his wife Julia’s Grover Beach Juice Bar.

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The month also included some newsworthy organizational developments. The new City Farm San Luis Obispo logo and website were rolled out, signaling a continuing transition of identity from the parent non-profit organization, Central Coast Grown, to the farm location and its programs.

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A regular CityFarmSLO Instagram feed of current captioned pictures is being maintained by summer intern and Stanford student Quillan Smith.

Brian Engleton, staunch long-term volunteer, joined the Board of Directors, and Steven Marx was elected to succeed Hunter Francis as Board President, though fortunately Hunter will remain as Board Member.

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These transitions and the promising end of a year of growth was celebrated by a small U-Pik U-cook party of supporters, volunteers, and staff on the beautiful night of July 9th.

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