We live in one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, yet we’d venture to say that not many of us can pass a farm field and say, with any degree of certainty, whether it’s planted in broccoli or bok choy.
That’s one reason we’re so excited about the upcoming opening of San Luis Obispo’s City Farm, a project that focuses on education, as well as the production of fresh, healthy food and the preservation of farmland.
Some background: The farm covers 20 acres of city-owned land at the north end of Calle Joaquin, just south of the Dalidio Property. In January 2013, the San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously approved leasing the property for urban farming, thereby fulfilling a city policy that requires half the prime farmland in that area to remain in ag production.
Central Coast Grown, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building "local, sustainable and fair food systems,” was granted a 20-year lease to operate the farm. It, in turn, issued a request for proposals to growers interested in subleasing plots.
Out of several applicants, Nicola Allegretta, owner of Mama’s Meatball restaurant, was chosen to lease 16 acres for herbs, tomatoes, squash and other produce to be used in the restaurant.
CCG is in the process of finalizing contracts with a few other organizations that will lease smaller parcels. Those include a 2.5-acre plot for organic row crops; a quarter-acre children’s garden; and a threequarter acre plot that high school students will farm for elective credit.
Eventually, CCG hopes to add a u-pick component and a farm stand where visitors can purchase fresh vegetables and fruit.
We love the idea. Not only will local “city kids” — along with their parents and grandparents — have the opportunity to see the food grown in the field and perhaps help with its production, but they’ll also be able to enjoy it.
That’s what the “locavore” movement — eating foods grown locally — is all about: It helps keep food affordable by saving on transportation costs; it’s better for the environment because food doesn’t have to be trucked long distances; and the food is fresher and tastier.
We commend the city of San Luis Obispo and Central Coast Grown for promoting, through City Farm, an industry that we literally cannot live without: agriculture.
SUNDAY FUN DAY
City Farm is celebrating its opening with a “fun-raiser” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The event starts with a bike ride; bicyclists will meet at the Madonna Mountain trailhead at 10 a.m., leave at 10:15 a.m. and proceed to City Farm, 1221 Calle Joaquin, where there will be live music, a puppet show, opportunities to plant veggies, a photo booth, fresh snacks and more. Guests are invited to bring picnic lunches, but no pets, please.