Inside California Education: Community Colleges – Urban Farming in San Diego


♪♪ Kristen: IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
SECOND LARGEST CITY … IN THE NATION’S MOST
POPULOUS STATE. ONE THING YOU MIGHT NOT EXPECT
TO SEE … IS A FARM. ♪♪ Erin: Alright groups, please
test the moisture level and let me know if your beds are
the correct moisture level for tillage. Erin: We are at um Seeds at City
Urban Farm. Seeds at City Urban Farm is the
outdoor lab for the sustainable urban agriculture program at
City College. Kristen: THIS “OUTDOOR LAB” IS
ONE OF THREE PLOTS AT SAN DIEGO CITY COLLEGE DEDICATED TO THE
SCHOOL’S SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROGRAM. COMBINED, THE PLOTS MAKE UP
ABOUT AN ACRE, WHERE STUDENTS GET HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE WHILE
WORKING TOWARD AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE OR CERTIFICATE. Erin: 18:00 six point two to
six point eight is prime. That’s what you want for
vegetable crops, right? Kristen: CLASSES WITHIN THE
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROGRAM COVER EVERYTHING FROM SOIL
SCIENCE… TO VEGETABLE PRODUCTION… TO FOOD
PRESERVATION. Mike: Typically our class, we
start with a lecture and then we get our garden gloves and our
big sun hats and we go to one of three farm sites that are on the
campus. Dominique: On a day to day basis
we do transplanting, we do weeding, we do bed prep… Erin: It adds a lot of
real-world connection to what we’re talking
about in the classroom. It gives them a lot of
experience in it. And then in some of our classes
we really focus on skills building because it is a career
technical education program. So it’s really important to have
this space that students can build the skills they need to be
able to work in agriculture in the future. Kristen: THOSE SKILLS CAN
TRANSLATE TO A VARIETY OF CAREERS… FROM THE CULINARY
ARTS TO INSECT BIOLOGY. Rosie: For me personally, I want
to educate younger children and our future generations… Kristen: ROSIE O’BRIEN
ALREADY HAS A 4-YEAR DEGREE IN SUSTAINABILITY,
AND TURNED TO THIS PROGRAM AS A WAY TO GET SOME PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCE. Rosie: I am really passionate
about having the knowledge for myself of how to grow fruits and
vegetables and just become more sustainable as a person overall. Kristen: FOR MIKE BLAKELY, IT’S
PART OF A VITICULTURE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM THROUGH
HIS EMPLOYER. IT’S ALSO A WAY TO EXPAND HIS
CULINARY KNOWLEDGE. Mike: I’ve been working in
restaurants and bars like forever and I’m familiar with
like food and thought I knew something about food and like
for example there’s a plant right over there that’s fennel. And I had no idea what fennel
was as a plant. I had only seen it on a plate. Kristen: AND FOR DOMINIQUE
BLANCHE, IT’S A WAY TO RECOVER FROM THE EMOTIONAL SCARS THAT
CAME WITH HIS PREVIOUS CAREER… AS A COMBAT SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN
IN THE U-S NAVY. Dominique: Getting out of the
military I was looking for something that was somewhat
therapeutic that would you know give me something back to deal
with the issues I was dealing with as far as my disabilities. Kristen: HE HOPES TO START A
SMALL BUSINESS FOCUSED ON SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE… AS WELL AS A NONPROFIT THAT
WOULD ALLOW OTHER VETERANS TO EXPERIENCE THE HEALING HE HAS
FOUND THROUGH FARMING. Dominique: It motivates me to be
better but it also gives me an opportunity to like find
community. Coming here every day gives me
something to be motivated and happy to do every single day. ♪♪ Erin: If everybody could grab
two stakes, measure out each end of your bed to be two feet so we
have that … Kristen: PROFESSOR
ERIN MCCONNELL HOPES THE PROGRAM CONTINUES
TO ATTRACT STUDENTS WITH DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS…
INCLUDING THOSE FROM URBAN ENVIRONMENTS WHERE FARMS ARE
MOSTLY FOREIGN. Erin: A lot of San Diego –
especially areas like southeastern San Diego are what
people call food deserts or food swamps actually …so it’s a
really important in those areas for people to start to learn how
to grow their own food. Maybe get involved in a
community garden to try and improve and increase the
availability of local produce and produce in those areas. Kristen: CITY COLLEGE OFFICIALS
HOPE THIS SMALL PLOT OF LAND, ONCE A GRASSY AREA ADJACENT TO A
PARKING LOT, CAN SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW URBAN FARMING CAN
HAPPEN ANYWHERE. Randy: Even though there’s a
land issue in San Diego and in particular downtown, um there
are pockets of space just like this one where you can grow
enough produce for maybe a neighborhood or a restaurant or
a small store. Kristen: MONEY EARNED THROUGH
HARVESTING THESE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES GOES BACK INTO THE
PROGRAM, AND ALSO HELPS WITH ADVANCING THE MISSION
OF THE COLLEGE. Randy: City colleges commitment
to social justice and environmental sustainability is
embedded in our mission and this program really supports that by
giving people the opportunity to be self-sufficient, healthy,
environmentally conscious Kristen: STUDENTS SAY THE TIME
THEY’VE SPENT IN THIS OUTDOOR LAB HAS DEFINITELY MADE THEM
MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS AND MORE COMMITTED TO PURSUING
THEIR GOALS, WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT SUSTAINABLE FARMING IS
CRUCIAL TO OUR FUTURE. Mike: The more people we have,
the more land we need to live on, and we’re not getting any
more land and so what we’re learning here is how to make
small spaces super productive. And I think that’s not just
relevant, it’s super necessary these days. ♪♪

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