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NEWSLETTER | March 2017
Central Coast Grown
 

 

Spring is Nature's Way of Saying, "Let's Party!"

- Robin Williams

A party it has been indeed for Central Coast Grown / City Farm SLO. 2017 has brought with it some major milestones along with a few setbacks - all to be expected in farming of course. Read on to discover what we've been up to the last few months and what's to come for the warm season.

Movie Night Fundraiser Recap

Movie Night Fundraiser Picture

Let's start with the party! On February 28, Central Coast Grown hosted its first official fundraiser for the organization at the SLO Guild Hall (formerly The Grange). A special thanks to all those who attended or provided assistance for the event. We raised enough money through ticket sales, drink purchases, silent auction winnings and donations to help supplement our programs over the next quarter and reward the efforts of staff and volunteers. Even more gratifying was the number of people who attended, many of them new faces to the organization, as well as the spirit in the hall and the responses to presentations about our City Farm SLO programs and to the film, "Gaining Ground."

We are now developing plans for future public events at the farm (1221 Calle Joaquin, along the 101 freeway between LOVR and Madonna roads) and would appreciate your input and involvement. To join our efforts, offer suggestions, find out more, or donate, please contact us or follow us on Facebook.


Educational Programs - Springing Up from the Mud!

The rainfall this year posed some unique challenges for our student programs out at City Farm SLO. The students are finally able to return to the farm after waiting months for the mud and creek levels to subside. We want to thank PBHS and PREPARE students and faculty for their flexibility and determination in finding creative ways to keep the sustainable Ag education moving along, sans access to the farm itself.

WHAT'S GROWING?

We are spending much of our time these days cleaning up from the flood and trying to rebuild the soil through cover crop, which includes fava beans, vetch, oats, daikon radishes, clover and wildflowers. We are also starting melon, tomato and other seasonal fruit and veggie seeds to help supply the T-MHA farmstand in Santa Maria (more info on this new partnership in our next newsletter). Finally, we are looking forward to planting berry canes and fruit trees in the near future too! We hope that with the longer, warmer and drier days ahead we will begin to see the fruits of our labor.

DEVELOPING CITIZEN SCIENTISTS - A PARTNERSHIP WITH SLO SEED EXCHANGE

PBHS students planting winter grains under the direction of Elizabeth Johnson

In 2016, Elizabeth Johnson from SLO Seed Exchange gave a presentation on the basics of seedsaving to the PBHS farm class. This sparked a unique experimental idea of carving out a small plot on the farm to plant heirloom, heritage and ancient grains with the students to see which staple crops might thrive at City Farm SLO. The first round of planting included sunflowers, millet, quinoa, sweet sorghum, and Native American blue corn from New Mexico. The goal was to start everything from seed and transform each crop into a potential use after harvest (i.e. sunflower oil, whole grains, flour, and syrup from sorghum).

THE OUTCOME: Crop results were outstanding for blue corn and sweet sorghum. Quinoa struggled when young then recovered and produced a lot of seed that when cleaned provided plenty of food for us as well as seeds for the next planting. Our search for inexpensive equipment to process sorghum for syrup was unsuccessful, but we harvested a lot of seeds to grind for flour. Elizabeth returned to the classroom with cornbread, savory quinoa pilaf and other foods made with the harvested seeds. While the students enjoyed eating their hard work, they got started cleaning seeds for cooking, community distribution and future planting.

2017 WINTER GRAINS: With the success and engagement of the first round of planting, we decided to plant winter grains in November - wheat, barley and fava beans; close to fifty varieties - to be harvested this spring. The intentions set for this season were two-fold:

  1. Student Citizen Scientists would practice collecting plant data and logging environmental observations.
  2. "Increase seed" of these heritage varieties for community use.

Then...the rains began, making the fields inaccessible to both humans and vehicles for two months (more on flooding in the next section). We were happy about the rains but unsure of how the winter varieties will ultimately fare.

Elizabeth is currently in touch with researchers in California and beyond who are collecting data on heritage grain grow-outs that will contribute to the national farming community's understanding of climate change effects. PBHS students have a wonderful opportunity to contribute to this national effort and Elizabeth Johnson is enjoying this journey with them.

A special thanks to Elizabeth Johnson for dedicating her time and passion to our students and to the various seed donors/contributors that made this on-going experiment possible - Seedsavers, Cornell University's Organic Grain Program, and Kusa Seed Society.


The "Great" Flood Report - City Farm SLO

The heavy rainfall welcomed by Californians after five long years of drought came to City Farm SLO with considerable costs. In January, all road access was cut off because heavy clay mud deeply rutted by heavy equipment bogged down our farmers', staff and volunteer vehicles, making crop cultivation and harvest first difficult and then impossible.

The new bioswale installed by the City of San Luis Obispo at first succeeded in draining the lower sections of our fields, where in the past, crops were lost by drowning during even mild wet spells. But, as the rains continued and the ground became fully saturated, the volume of water flowing off the slightly higher ground of the large fields on neighboring property engulfed City Farm SLO with rivers and lakes.

IMPACT ON OUR FARMERS: Javier Magana's five acres of English Peas, which had been promising a first class commercial harvest were drowned on the vine. Michael Huggins' lovingly constructed greenhouse, where he was successfully growing ginger, turmeric and other specialty crops was demolished by merciless microbursts of wind that accompanied the rainstorms.

Recognizing the high risks to which Nature has always subjected farmers, the folks at City Farm SLO have responded with admirable resilience. Javier started growing strawberries, asparagus and spring starts under cover. Michael has dug out from under the collapsed shed and is planning to construct a larger and stronger greenhouse with the help of the National Soil Conservation Service. Everyone is approaching Spring with the spirit of a new start.

IMPACT ON OUR STUDENTS: Perfumo Creek (pictured below), which our Pacific Beach High School students have walked across on large deliberately placed rocks twice a week for two and a half years turned into a raging torrent, preventing the school's sustainable agriculture class from taking place on the farm for over two months.

 

Keep in Touch

    

Love SLO Volunteers

Love SLO volunteers doing a bit of spring cleaning on the farm

Thank You Love SLO Volunteers!

City Farm hosted close to 50 volunteers from the Love SLO event on March 18. Love SLO is an annual event that demonstrates kindness, meets needs and impacts the lives of those in our community.

Thanks to all those extra hands, we were able to able to weed and prepare soil for warm season planting, mulch a pathway so our PREPARE students can have easy access the farm, and more! We really appreciate everyone that came out to help and celebrate the awesome city we call home.

Meet Patrick - The Newest Member of the CCG Team:

Patrick Picture

Patrick Spielman joined the CCG team back in November and has quickly carved a unique niche for himself.

Hailing from California’s Central Valley, he's had experience growing many different types of annual vegetables in hot, dry conditions. After graduating from CSU Fresno, Patrick worked with the US Forest Service conducting backcountry wildlife surveys, as well as many other projects related to habitat restoration for non profit groups in Central California.

Patrick is most interested in designing permaculture based food systems that improve soil health, increase biodiversity and restore ecosystems. Other interests include riparian habitat restoration, food self-sufficiency, and developing alternatives to extractive capitalist economic systems. 

Events / Calendar

4/8 - ECOSLO 45th Anniversary Celebration @ ifixit

4/12 - Carbon Cycle Institute's Carbon Farm Planning Workshop

4/15 - Earth Day @ Branch Mill Organics

4/21 - Dr. Elaine Ingham - Healthy Foodwebs, Healthy Soils

4/22 - Earth Day & Music Festival @ El Chorro Regional Park

4/25 - SLO Permaculture Guild Quarterly Program @ SLO Guild Hall 6pm

5/2 - Slow Money SLO Seasonal Gathering @ Oak Creek Commons in Paso Robles

5/20 - Raise the Solar Roof SLO Guild Hall Fundraiser

7/11 - 7/14 - FARMGIRLS Summer Camp @ City Farm SLO

City Farm is Seeking the Following Supplies:

If you or anyone you know is willing to donate (or sell at a very discounted rate) any of these items, please contact us, every bit helps:

  • Straw
  • Spent Animal Bedding
  • Bulk Compost
  • Paper Bags (no colorful or dark ink)
  • Bamboo Poles / Trellis Materials
  • Garden Twine 
  • Logs / Polewood
  • Garden Hoses
  • Tree Fencing 
  • Tree Supports
  • Grafting Tape
  • Decompostable / Plantable Pots

FARMGIRLS SUMMER CAMP IS BACK!

Dates: July 11 - 14 (Tues - Fri)

Time: 8:00 am - Noon

Where: Our Global Family Village located at City Farm SLO (1221 Calle Joaquin, SLO)

Register by June 30, 2017!

$150 per camper (parents can come any day for free)

For Girls Ages 8 - 16

Girl Power for our Future Food System

FARMGIRLS Summer Camp is held at Our Global Family Farm, a permaculture demonstration site located at City Farm SLO. It features food crops and indigenous food cropping systems from the four corners of the globe.

FARMGIRLS Summer Camp will include farming, cooking, eating, making crafts, singing and nature hikes.

FARMGIRLS summer camp is a place where young women can learn to grow food with an ecological approach that follows the ethics of permaculture: care for the earth, care for one another, and share the abundance. Together we can create a food system that is Regenerative, Healthy, Local, and Resilient.

HELP US CLEAN UP AND RE-BUILD CITY FARM SLO:

Consider helping our tenant farmers and school programs rebuild after the flood through a small donation of time and/or money. Every bit counts in the effort to get us back to full production and student education.

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CENTRAL COAST GROWN

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Central Coast Grown
PO Box 3736
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403
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