First farmers break ground on 20-acre City Farm in San Luis Obispo

The first farmers are getting ready to break ground at City Farm, a 20-acre urban farming cooperative in San Luis Obispo’s Calle Joaquin agricultural reserve.

Nicola Allegretta, owner of Mama’s Meatball restaurant, and farm manager Derron Dike plan to grow produce, such as herbs, tomatoes and squash, on the site for the restaurant. City Farm is administered by Central Coast Grown, a group that advocates local farming.

The property will be planted with cover crops this winter, and the first crop of fruits and vegetables will be planted in the spring, said Jenna Smith, Central Coast Grown’s executive director.

The city-owned property is at the north end of Calle Joaquin and just south of the Dalidio property. It was leased for 20 years to Central Coast Grown as part of the city’s policy that requires half of prime farmland to remain under production.

The farm reached an important milestone four months ago when an agricultural well was installed. This gives the farm a reliable source of irrigation water.

“We feel blessed with the water, soil, climate and visionary people we are partnered with as we plan to grow and offer nourishment to the local community,” Allegretta said.

Allegretta will use 16 of the 20 acres. The remainder is available for other farmers who want to sublet a portion of the farm in plots ranging from a quarter acre to an acre. The group will take proposals for subleases beginning in December and will assign them in the spring.

“We are hopeful that the flexible size of these plots can be a convenient option for new farmers looking to experiment with farming, or community groups wanting to partner with us on educational programming on food and farming,” Smith said.