City Farm–San Luis Obsipo is a sustainability freak's dream located at 1221 Calle Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405 on the Calle Joaquin Agricultural Reserve. A union of organic agriculture, youth empowerment, community education and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) hub makes one stop and question, "Is this San Luis Obispo or are we in Portland?" San Luis Obispo hosts agriculturally rich soils, setting the scene for Cal Poly's Agriculture program. Some might say that the college department, however, is largely focused on traditional industrial agriculture (ag) techniques in farming (USDA, Harris Ranch, etc.) rather than the SLOcal food/transition/urban agriculture movement. Thus, when it was proposed back in 2008 that a non-profit ( Central Coast Ag Network d.b.a. Central Coast Grown / "CCG") would acquire organic land and turn it into a sustainable center for ag education and affordable farm land, it seemed a little far-fetched. On November 20, 2012, SLO city council unanimously voted to lease the land to CCAN for 20 years to Central Coast Grown for agricultural purposes as one way to uphold a city policy that requires 50% of prime agricultural land to remind under production. Something is actually happening!
What is it? A collaboration between the City of SLO, Central Coast Grown and the interested citizens of San Luis Obispo to create a center for sustainable agriculture, which encompasses the three Es of sustainability (oh yes, we're going there): Economy, Environment, and Social Equity.
- Economy: Leasing the land and keeping the cash flow within the community.
- Environment: What better way to support the environment than grow plants without chemicals? SLOcals can burn fewer fossil fuels getting to and from their cropland, especially if they ditch the motor vehicle and ride a bike (or walk, roller skate, pogo stick, go horseback, etc).
- Social Equity: Supporting local farmers and making land available to newer generations who have the drive but are not in a position to purchase their own land.
There are currently 19 acres at City Farm–San Luis Obispo. These plots will be used as educational experimental plots. The leases are available in 1 to 5 year stints. In 20 years, time will tell if the City of SLO will extend the lease for CCG.
City Farm subleased land to its first farmer, Nicola Allegretta, is the owner of a local, downtown restaurant and catering business in San Luis Obispo, Mama’s Meatball & Haute Catering. With the lease at City Farm - San Luis Obispo, Nicola has started Nico Farms where everything must be grown organically. Nicola will use the local produce in his restaurant and catering business as well as sell at a farmstand, farmers markets, and other local markets and restaurants.
The goals of City Farm include resuming agricultural production on historic agricultural land, providing educational opportunities for the general public, and offering resources and affordable access to land to both current and future farmers. City Farm will transform the Calle Joaquin Ag Reserve into a place to learn and share about local farming in San Luis Obispo. It is planned to one-day host you-pick stands, farmer incubation programs, and food business facilities like processing, storing, and distribution.