Planting [email protected]

Urban Farm Continues to Grow on Campus

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Harvesting has been underway this fall at San Diego City College’s [email protected] urban farm. (Photo by Todd Mata)

Todd Mata

Monday morning holds something different for everybody, but for those who work on San Diego City College’s urban farm, it is an opportunity to harvest and distribute the results of a season’s labor. 9 a.m. marks the beginning of a new week, and with this race against the elements, someone is always close by to oversee the structural balance and progression among the rows.

“The Sustainable Urban Agriculture Program at City College is training a new generation of farmers to work in the unique landscape of urban and suburban environments,” says Program Manager Heather McGray.

Established in 2008, the program originally only offered internships before a full academic curriculum was applied in 2010.

Student Bianca Gomez (far right) buys produce Dec. 1 at the Seeds@City farm stand. Managing the stand are (left to right) Claire Groeber, Dan Summers, Kevin Bateman and Mark Valen. (Photo by Celia Jimenez)
Student Bianca Gomez (far right) buys produce Dec. 1 at the [email protected] farm stand. Managing the stand are (left to right) Claire Groeber, Dan Summers, Kevin Bateman and Mark Valen. (Photo by Celia Jimenez)

[email protected] Urban Farm serves the students as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for experiential learning,” McGray says.

Now with classes (part indoor/outdoor lab) often overbooked, three different certifications are available for students involved, with transferable units to a variety of UC and CSU schools.

These courses are the only ones of their kind from a community college in Southern California.

Production Manager Damian Valdez says Seeds is still “looking to become a more organic part of the community” and establish itself as the go-to around campus.

“The other two plots (flower and orchard) at the P and Harry West Gymnasium buildings total just over two acres and are more than enough right now to grow in a timely manner,” Valdez says.

They work amongst themselves, a small group of dedicated individuals, simply to best facilitate the products and how they must be properly handled and preserved.

With the cafeteria and Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) in collaboration with the farm, “they have been able to generate a recycled compost of shredded paper and other natural materials,” says Food Service Site Supervisor Patton Alberti, by using what is no longer needed.

The farm donates to local food banks, offers work experience and “provides healthy locally grown produce to the students, faculty and staff via a weekly farmstead and through a Community Supported Agriculture Program,” McGray explains. The stand is open every Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the BT building at the corner of C and 16th streets.

In this fast-paced city lifestyle where we might sometimes get lost, urban farming can help keep us in touch with what is pure and simple. [email protected] is a branch of the college on the rise, and like any growing market, it will take the same time, effort and care that they have shown in providing what they do for the community.



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