UCCE Sonoma County
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Posts Tagged: San Diego

San Diego’s Wild Willow Farm Grows Farmers

Students at Wild Willow Farm participate in a hands-on plumbing lesson.

When you arrive at Wild Willow Farm & Education Center (WWF) it's hard to believe that you are merely miles from one metropolis – San Diego – to the north, and even closer to the bustle of Tijuana, Mexico to the south. The farm, operated by the non-profit organization, San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, calls 5.5 acres home in the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, with about two acres currently under production. 

The farm grows a variety of seasonal produce, herbs, flowers, and fruit, which they mostly sell through their “Farmshare CSA,” and a few wholesale restaurant accounts. A Saturday farm stand onsite is also in the works. However, ask founder and program manager Mel Lions what they really grow, and he'll tell you, “Farmers!” 

The mission of the farm goes beyond growing food. WWF is a working educational farm that teaches and trains the next generation of farmers to be stewards of the land. They operate southern California's only soil-based farm school, with regenerative agriculture at the cornerstone. WWF offers weekly classes and workshops in food, community, and health-related topics, and four times a year they offer their signature six-week course, Farming 101: Introduction to Regenerative Farming. The course introduces students to basic principles and practices that focuses on transforming farms and food production into ecologically restorative, bio-diverse living landscapes best suited for small-scale production.

While much income for the farm is revenue generated by programs, funding always remains a challenge. The team at WWF depends on volunteer administrators, and part-time paid staff. In addition, lease restrictions inside the County Park prohibit traditional farm amenities, such as housing for staff and students. The County Park also only provides a five-year lease term, which limits long-term planning and investment in infrastructure upgrades.

In its eighth year of existence, WWF has weathered storms, which literally flooded the farm (as it sits in flood plain,) but they wouldn't want it any other way. WWF is a guaranteed breath of fresh air, and embraces all who are willing to make the trip off the beaten path.

Wild Willow founder Mel Lions with urban agriculture workshop attendees

Wild Willows Farm can be found at 2550 Sunset Avenue, San Diego, California 92154, or online at http://sandiegoroots.org/farm/farm-school.php. The farm's social media links are https://www.instagram.com/wildwillowfarm/ and https://www.facebook.com/wildwillowfarm

Cathryn Henning is WWF's Farm Manager. You can email WWF at wildwillowfarm@sandiegoroots.org

Posted on Friday, June 22, 2018 at 4:50 PM
  • Author: Mary V Redlin

Ag labor management seminars offer keys to success in times of labor uncertainty

UC Cooperative Extension will hold workshops in Temecula Feb. 1 and 2 to help California agricultural employers facing many challenges including labor shortages, wage & hour laws, joint liability, worker safety, workers comp insurance, and immigration issues and policies.

“Agricultural employers and managers are better prepared to face uncertainty in labor markets with up-to-date information and strategies for dealing with people management, and legal and regulatory issues,” said Ramiro Lobo, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in San Diego County and workshop organizer. Additional program partners are the California Farm Labor Contractor Association, Zenith Insurance Company and Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards.

The workshops will be at Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards, 35960 Rancho California Rd., in Temecula. “Challenges and Strategies in Agricultural Labor Management” runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 1. The program includes various legal and industry experts presenting on a range of labor management issues including updates on labor laws, basic strategies for legal and effective hiring and orientation, overview of H2A Visa programs, and effective management of worker injuries. The event ends with wine tasting hosted by Wilson Creek.

“Management and Supervision of Personnel for Agricultural Operations,” will be offered in Spanish on Feb. 2. The program, intended for agricultural employers/managers and first-line supervisors, provides information on effective supervision and management in times of labor shortage, updates on labor laws and regulations, positive and clear communications, and preventing sexual harassment and bullying.

“Properly managing personnel is critical because of the scarcity of labor,” Lobo said. “We will provide strategies to retain employees by making the workplace more attractive.”

Advance registration is available with a credit card at http://ucanr.edu/2017aglaborseminar. Registration for the Feb. 1 workshop is $80 per person before Jan. 20, and $100 after or at the door, if space allows. Registration for the Feb. 2 workshop is $60 per person before Jan. 20, and $80 after or at the door, if space allows. A registration discount is available for participants to attend both events. For both events, registration is $120 before Jan. 20, and $140 after or at the door, if space allows.

For more information visit the event website.

Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 12:05 PM
Tags: Farm labor (2), San Diego (3), UCCE (13)

San Diego farmers: Help plan California Small Farm Conference

Do you live or work in the San Diego area and have a passion for small farms? We need your connections and expertise to help plan the 28th California Small Farm Conference!

The conference will be March 7 - 10, 2015 at the Marriott Mission Valley in San Diego County.

Attracting approximately 500 participants yearly, the California Small Farm Conference is the state's premier gathering of small-scale farmers, farmers' market managers, university researchers, federal and state agriculture agencies, agriculture students, food policy advocates, consumers and others.

Attendees of the local planning meeting hear from CSFC President, Karen Rich Firestein.
Each year we recruit local farmers, farming organizations, farmers' market managers and others to help us plan the Conference and focus on important local issues.

The important work of the Local Planning Committee volunteers ensures the success of the California Small Farm Conference. We are looking for dedicated individuals with a passion for agriculture, who work or live in the San Diego area, to join our 2015 Local Planning Committee!

There are still openings for several volunteers to participate in planning by taking leadership roles on conference committees. These "super volunteers" will receive complementary registration and meals at the conference.

We need your input on local contacts for speakers, workshop topics, field tours and the tasting event! The second meeting of the Local Planning Committee will be held on Monday, September 15 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Click here to RSVP to the September 15 Local Planning Meeting.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Roth, Conference Coordinator, 916-508-8937 or jroth@californiafarmconference.com

Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11:37 AM
 
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