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City Farm SLO Autumn 2015

The winds of late summer at City Farm presaged the harvest of Fall crops at the Pacific Beach School Garden and Farm.

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Everyone was delighted by the succulence and sweetness of melons planted early in the summer by the farm manager and her helpers as a long-shot experiment.  We were surprised that our moderate San Luis Obispo climate and clay soil allowed for success with these delicacies and look forward to a larger planting next year.
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Farm classes focussed attention on identifying and learning the proper use of hand tools and the hand-held BCS tractor used to mow, grind and turn what’s left of the plants after harvest into green manure to re-enrich depleted soil.

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There was also a fine first harvest at Global Family Garden that showcased their three-sisters crops—corn, squash and beans—planted by the families who came out to work together on this project at the beginning of summer.

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Illuminating the relationship between culture and food production in different areas of the world, children and their parents built a miniature village around African crops of yams and casavas.

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However, in the unpredictable world of farming, not everything proceeds smoothly.  A plague of insects known as Bagrada bugs making their way from Africa, Southeast Asia and Southern California descended on our fields, sucking sap from the leaves of many vegetables, and shamelessly running across the ground in pairs joined by their reproductive organs.

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We continue to be harmed by herds of deer, large and small, who hide in the creek adjoining the farm and manage to leap over our eight-foot fence, or come through holes in the neighbor’s.

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Some of the damage to fences and gates is created by other creek dwellers who used wire cutters to create some of those holes and helped themselves not only to vegetables, but also to a pump on our fertigation system and to a generator which they carted away on our wagon.

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Another challenge during the last two months has been the plan to build  a huge four story hotel on a lot close to our Southern border.

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Though in the works for more than a year, no one at City Farm was informed of this project. But the testimony of our tenants and volunteers at a hearing of the Architectural Review Commission has led to a delay and the requirement that the developer confer with our representatives to  minimize the project’s impacts on our farming activity and on views of and from the farm.

Michael Huggins, our newly signed tenant of two acres, set up his irrigation system and a freight container for his storage facility.  He commutes to the farm on his cargo bike.

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Here, he is preparing the ground for Spring planting by hand sowing a cover crop with his baby daughter on his back.  She’s aptly named Cedar.

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Two weeks later he was already hoeing weeds.

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In the adjoining five-acre plot, Javier Magana and his crew were completing the harvest of his first crop of tomatillos planted back in May.

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A few days later, they were readying the ground for their planting of organic winter vegetables.

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On the eastern side of the School Garden, Green Gold Organic Farm continues to harvest its prolific crop of mini-peppers. They’ve taken the place of the strawberry plants that were killed by a fungus deep in the soil that cannot be eradicated by organic methods.

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In a small hand-built hoop house they are growing the starts from seed that will replace the peppers when their time is done.

Green Gold’s persistence, resilience and good spirits provide all their City Farm neighbors with inspiration.

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Central Coast Grown’s farm manager and educator, Nicki Anderson, is preparing for the next growing season by expanding the productive capacity of the School Farm.  On a cloudy day foretelling a wet winter, she and helper Adam twist uprights for a 4000 sq. ft. “high tunnel” hoop house into the resistant soil.

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And on a patch between the School Garden and Our Global Family Garden, CCG Board Member, Brian Engleton has laid out the dimensions of the Pergola/Gazebo/Shade Structure whose materials have been donated by his employer, PG and E.  The building permits for this facility for classes, meetings and special events are now complete.

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During October CCG signed a lease for our last available two acres with Scott and Lauren Samson of Samson Family Organics.  Graduates of Cal Poly Pomona’s program in Ag Business, they plan to grow a variety of crops and to specialize in hops production for local brewers and in hydroponically grown leafy greens.

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[Nicki Anderson photo]

Back in the School Garden, Pacific Beach’s High School’s second Fall marking period began with students getting the opportunity to use the BCS tractor to clear last season’s growth in preparation for new plantings.

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This was followed by the application of rich mushroom compost on the cleared beds, quick work for an experienced crew of ten.
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At the next class students planted starts of lettuces, parsley, chard, cale, cabbage, and broccoli donated by Green Heart growers of Nipomo.

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The planting went so efficiently that there was still time to harvest and eat recently ripened  carrots.

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Central Coast Grown Volunteer, Teresa Lees, visited the City Farm School Program to teach a lesson on the theory and practice of composting, essential to processing of our organic wastes and to long-term soil health that forgoes the use of synthetic fertilizers and enriches its biotic structure.

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[Nicki Anderson photos] As temperatures dropped and daylight shortened students marked the harvest holiday of Halloween back in the classroom by carving pumpkins and squashes they’d planted six months earlier.

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[Nicki Anderson photos] And the end of the second Fall session at the school was celebrated with butternut squash pie baked for the class by CCG’s farmer-educator.

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[Nicki Anderson photos]