By Jenna Smith, Executive Director of the Central Coast Ag Network
Central Coast Ag Network (CCAN), established in 2003, seeks a sustainable local and regional food system to ensure a nourishing, diverse, and abundant supply of food that is resilient, safe, and secure. With this vision in mind, we are thrilled to announce that on November 20, 2012, the city council of San Luis Obispo unanimously voted to lease 18 acres of the Calle Joaquin Agricultural Reserve to CCAN for a term of twenty years.
The land, commonly referred to as SLO City Farm, will be under agricultural production as a fully operating demonstration farm. In this way, the agricultural history of the site will be maintained while simultaneously providing educational opportunities for the general public, children of all ages, and for both current and future farmers.
The SLO City Farm will lead the community in the creation of a local food system. Educational programs will include programming geared toward teaching children about fruits and vegetables, along with making local foods more accessible within San Luis Obispo County school districts. This project will aim to educate the general public on local food and farming in order to keep more food dollars in our county and support ongoing farming in this area. The SLO City Farm will serve as a model for future farm sites and will act as the main facility for educational training, workshops, and incubation programs.
Agriculture is our county’s leading industry and has been a part of our cultural history for more than 100 years. Currently the average age of farmers in our county is 59 years old and many are approaching retirement. The loss of experienced farmers coupled with the rising prohibitive land cost draws upon the challenges that new and first generation farmers are faced with. This site offers an opportunity for farmers, new and experienced, to participate in the strengthening of our community and local food system.
For all interested farmers, the land will be available for lease through a proposal process beginning in January 2013. Please visit www.centralcoastgrown.org for more information.