About our farm
Seeds was formed in June 2008 through a partnership between San Diego City College and San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project. Since its inception, Seeds@City––an approximately 1-acre farm on the City College campus––has offered apprenticeships three times yearly, and the student demand has consistently been beyond our capacity. The farm provides students with hands-on experiences necessary for learning the skills of urban farming and is the first of its kind at an institution of higher education in San Diego County.
Our new Sustainable Urban Agriculture academic program builds on the three-year success of Seeds @ City and is a model program for sustainable agriculture academic programs in higher education. We have developed and are now offering an Associate degree in Sustainable Urban Agriculture as well as certificate programs in Urban Farming, Urban Gardening, Organic Gardening for the Culinary Arts, Introductory Ecological Landscaping, and Advanced Ecological Landscaping.
About this project
A perennial issue for programs such as ours has been the state of California's increasing inability to extend funding to crucial educational ventures. Ironically, this funding deficit occurs at a time when interest in our programs is greater than ever. Furthermore, Seeds @ City Urban Farm serves a frequently neglected, under-served community (urban, ethnic, economically diverse) for whom the health benefits of organic farming are vitally needed.
Shoots greenhouse would go a long way toward putting the farm on a more stable financial footing because it would enable us to grow and sell starts, as well as expand and enhance our current CSA (community supported agriculture) program.
A greenhouse would have additional educational benefits for our program as well. Over the past year, we have only been able to offer four courses supporting these programs, as state budget cuts prevent us from offering more than the equivalent of two courses per semester. At the current rate of course offerings, it will be difficult for students to finish their educational path in sustainable urban agriculture without waiting several years for the needed classes to be offered. The majority of these programs are designed to be completed within a year or less.
A greenhouse will allow us to support the only sustainable urban agriculture collegiate program in San Diego County. Prior to Seeds @ City, young people were forced to leave the county, and southern California, if they wanted academic training in sustainable urban agriculture.
A fence is needed to protect the farm from vandalism. We plan to turn the fence into a work of art itself. We'll partner with the art department to design ceramic veggies to place on the fence posts. Also, the space between fence posts will serve as display area for our resident farmer artists' works.
As soon as we have the greenhouse in place, we will work quickly to begin producing plant starts, the sale of which will help fund further farm operations. What are "starts"? Starts are very young plants that we have grown organically and brought along in our greenhouse, that are ready for transplantation to gardens in the community. We plan to offer starts that are not only organic, but that are tailored to the existing weather conditions in San Diego county. In time, we hope to develop a CSA program for people to subscribe to and receive seasonal starts from us quarterly. These revenue streams will go a very long way toward putting the farm on a solid financial footing—something that in the current educational funding climate is absolutely critical if Seeds is to continue its work in educating and transforming San Diego into a food-secure community.
An additional benefit is that the greenhouse should enable us also to begin quickly improving our CSA offerings. Because of the improved facilities a greenhouse represents, we hope to see improved CSA offerings, resulting in increased revenue in the CSA program within three months of the greenhouse's construction.The farm has informal agreements in place with both the campus cafeteria and a number of local restaurants, to begin supplying produce in the future. Because of a lack of facilities, it is impossible at this point to meet these needs and increase revenue. A greenhouse is crucial in the development of these other forms of outreach (and revenue) in the community. Perhaps nothing would raise awareness more on campus than the farm providing food to the cafeteria in which hundreds of City College students eat every day. As soon as the farm has a reliable facility to organize and grow more produce (particularly greens), we can formalize agreements with both the cafeteria and restaurants eager for our organic, locally produced crops.
Course offerings centered on the greenhouse (such as AGRI 112 Organic Greenhouse Management) will have to wait until Fall 2012 due to the usual constraints of collegiate planning. However, the presence of the greenhouse will be used in current course offerings and our apprenticeship program as soon as it is available, thus enhancing course content in classes already established in our sustainable urban agriculture programs.
- (30 days)