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NEWSLETTER | November 2016
Central Coast Grown
 

Happy Holidays from CCG!

With the holiday season upon us, there is so much to be grateful for this year. We've watched our tenant farmers flourish and our school programs grow with tremendous excitement. We also successfully launched our first ever City Farm CSA and completed a few major projects out on the farm. In this newsletter we look forward to sharing all of the progress that has been made and give you a sneak peak of what's to come in 2017!

Tenant Farmer Spotlight: Javier Magana

Javier Magana

Meet Javier Magana (pictured right), owner and operator of Red Barn Farms. As the veteran tenant farmer out at City Farm SLO, Javier continues to amaze us with his knowledge, passion and sense of humor when it comes to sustainably growing a wide variety of seasonal crops.

His same-day harvested produce can be found at local Farmers Markets and restaurants including Novo and Luna Red, which features a "Red Barn Salad" on its menu. If you're looking to drink your greens instead, Javier also provides fresh produce to his wife, Julia of Julia's Juices. Her delightful creations can be found at their brick and mortar shop in Grover Beach or various Farmers Markets throughout the county.

Javier moved his operation from Arroyo Grande to City Farm SLO in the summer of 2015 due to drought conditions. His water disappeared after neighbors on both sides of the land he'd been leasing dug wells several hundred feet deep. Central Coast Grown happily welcomed Javier so he could continue to improve the land and use the water to grow food without any artificial fertilizers or pesticides; but most importantly the opportunity meant he could continue to support his family.

Now, Javier's produce is in such high demand that he has recently expanded his lease from six acres to ten acres to join forces with his business partner, Ruffino (pictured above, left), in planting English peas for wholesale marketing.

In addition to working long hours, Javier's success can be credited to know-how and experimentation. For example, picture below you will find Javier and one of his farmers peeling garlic to blend with hot chili-peppers and water for an organic pest-control spray that works! We look forward to a continued partnership with Javier and Red Barn Farms in 2017!


City Farm SLO Educational Programs Continue to Grow!

Vegetables aren't the only thing growing at City Farm this year! Our two educational programs, Pacific Beach High School and PREPARE are expanding due to increased awareness and excitement at what the farm has to offer.

Students and faculty at PBHS are clearly enjoying their time out on the farm as our partnership has been extended into the 2017 school year. We have seen increased enrollment, attendance and course completion numbers this year. Session lengths have also increased from six weeks to nine weeks to ensure students are getting a comprehensive experience. We have even been seeing more familiar faces as students return for consecutive sessions. Currently, students have teamed up with Elizabeth, from SLO Seed Exchange to plant winter grains as cover crop/pest control and analyze scientific data on their findings.

PREPARE, our horticultural therapy program which started in January this year, has proven to be successful. Staff reports that this innovative model has shown dramatic transformations among its students, including shifts from fear to delight about eating vegetables pulled from the ground and excitement at participation in distribution of the harvest to families in need at local church functions. Weeding seems to be a favorite activity among students, and our farmers couldn't be more proud and thrilled at their participation. 


City Farm SLO's Pilot CSA Program Was A Great Success!

This June, City Farm SLO launched its pilot CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. We want to thank our founding members, fifteen brave families, that subscribed for a 22-week share of sustainably grown and harvested produce from CCG's one acre parcel of crop land. Family members arrived at the farm every Wednesday afternoon to pack their own bags and boxes with a variety of vegetables grown by CCG staff and students of the City Farm School Program. Weekly partial shares included seasonal vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, beets, chard, kale, carrots, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, potatoes, onions, squash, peppers, pumpkins and more! Full shares were supplemented with additional produce from City Farm tenants such as Michael Huggins of Dacite Farm (ginger, turmeric, galingale, salsify) and Javier Magana of Red Barn Farms (sugar peas, salad mix, beets, and herbs). Pictured below, Farmer Dena helps CSA member Lucas weigh out some beets.

When asked what their favorite part of the CSA was, several members responded, "coming out to the farm to pick up vegetables!" From our farmers' perspective, they most enjoyed hearing what everyone made out of the previous week's pickup.

This was a great opportunity to engage with the community by bridging the gap between farmers, the local food supply and consumers that enjoy preparing and eating a variety of local, seasonal vegetables.

City Farm SLO is taking the winter to rebuild the soil and develop crop plans for the warm season. Stay tuned for how to receive our produce in the future!


Infrastructure: Past, Present and Future

If you've visited the farm recently (or even driven past) you would have noticed a number of improvements to our infrastructure. First, with a little help from the City of SLO, we were able to install a bioswale extending from the entrance gate near the freeway around the southern edge of the property to a terminus near Perfumo Creek (pictured left, construction of the bioswale). This was needed to drain water that puddles in the lower end fields as a result of grading done decades ago to raise the level of commercial lots along Calle Joaquin.

Second, a new hoop house (aka high tunnel, pictured right) was constructed on CCG cropland with funds provided by a grant from the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). This structure will be used to extend the growing season for summer and fall crops and allow us to start more crops from seed. Not to mention, it also provides a shelter from the strong winter winds that cross the eastern end of Los Osos Valley.

Our subtenant, Michael Huggins of Dacite Farm is in the process of extending his greenhouse to increase second year production of specialty crops such as ginger, galingale and turmeric, which require tropical conditions. Michael's cutting edge experiments with growing these exotics for restaurants and farmers markets are paying off, as are his use of a human powered vehicle to transport building supplies, and solar panels on top of his cargo container to provide electricity for power tools and a nursery facility.

Another project, now awaiting completion, is the construction of the "pergola" (pictured right) that will serve as a shade structure, classroom and meeting place for farm activities and festivities. With the help of a generous grant from PG&E, the footings, posts and beams have been erected, but we are still waiting for additional funding to complete the roof, gravel base and handicap access parking spaces.

Finally, all of us at the farm are waiting eagerly (but patiently) for the permitting process from the City to allow installation of a 40' produce stand and tool storage facility near the entrance of City Farm. Courtesy of a generous grant secured by Landscape Architect professor, Ellen Burke, as well as the donation of her professional services, this facility will provide a marketing outlet for our tenant farmers and a gathering place for the public.

 

Keep in Touch

    

Cilantro from Red Barn Farms' plot at City Farm SLO

Featured Events 

Farmers Guild Farmer/Buyer Mixer - 1/9 @ Farm Supply SLO 4pm

CCG Fundraiser Coming Soon - Spring 2017

Community Events

ECOSLO Holiday Shopping Party @ Humankind - 12/3

 

Well Wishes and Best of Luck to Two Valued Staff Members:

Nicki Anderson and Niko Comati, two dedicated staff members are leaving CCG to pursue new professional opportunities. We wish them both the best on their new endeavors!

Nicki, our former Farm and Education Manager committed her heart and soul to the land, students and CCG community. She was the face of City Farm for the past two years and will be missed by many. She is excited to continue her passion of farming in a different capacity up in the San Jose area. We owe Nicki a big THANK YOU for growing the farm in ways we never expected.

Niko, our former food hub intern and farmer provided a lot of the muscle and humor out in the field. He played an integral role in the establishment of our pilot CSA program and has been a committed member of the CCG and SLO County farming communities for several years. Niko has accepted a full-time position with Oso Libre, a local vineyard, winery and ranch. We look forward to watching him grow as a farmer in our community.

Moving forward, we welcome Dena Paolilli, our former Farm and Education Assistant as the new Farm and Education Manager.

She is excited to continue pushing CCG's mission forward with her own unique style and experience. Dena is now looking for an assistant to help her with teaching and farm related tasks. If you have the experience and are interested in working with CCG, view the open Farm and Education Assistant position here.

 

A Special Thanks to our Supporters:

CCG works in collaboration with our students, subtenants, the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, and the SLO Parks and Recreation Department to provide agricultural education to community members at all levels.

The programs require staff, supplies, and administration that cost money. We are grateful to the many different charities and agencies that continue to renew the grants that make these programs possible. In 2016, we have received generous funding from:

Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation

Edwin and Jeanne Woods Family Foundation

Harold J Miossi Charitable Trust

United Way of San Luis Obispo County

The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County

The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo

Whole Kids Foundation

Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo

Young Professionals Networking Group (YPNG)

Consider joining the list of individual/family donors that help support and strengthen our impact on the community. Your contribution is essential to the longevity of our programs, people and community and will accomplish the following:

- Strengthen our local food system

- Provide educational and vocational opportunities for at-risk and in-need youth

- Encourage sustainable agricultural practices (with an emphasis on healthy soil)

- Ensure job security (for our current and future staff members)

Finally, thanks to our tireless grant writers, Wendy Brown and Steven Marx, for making our case and telling our story.

 

 

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CENTRAL COAST GROWN

(805) 769-8344 | info@centralcoastgrown.org | centralcoastgrown.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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