Land Access

  • Land Use and Zoning
    Source: San Diego County Agricultural Directory & Guidelines For Agricultural Enterprises
    As a new agricultural business you will need to know about the regulations that apply to your potential business location. Zoning and Land Use information can be easily obtained from the County of San Diego, Department of Planning and Land Use. Through the parcel number and/or physical address of the site, the Department of Planning and Land Use will be able to provide you with the approved usage, as well as possible restrictions, for your future agricultural business site.
    The Department of Planning and Land Use will also be able to assist you with questions regarding existing and planned facility use.
    - County of San Diego, Department of Planning and Land Use 5201 Ruffin Road San Diego, CA 92123 Phone: (858) 694-2960 or (858) 565-5981
     
  • Understanding Zoning
    The following link has useful information on how to understand zoning issues and explains key terms such as ”accessory use”. Follow the link and go to "planning and zoning". To determine the zoning of your neighborhood, you can sometimes search for your plot on an online map that shows zoning numbers.
     
  • Land Tenure and Leasing
    Source: San Diego County Agricultural Directory & Guidelines For Agricultural Enterprises
    The economics of today’s agriculture make leasing or renting land an important component for San Diego County’s agricultural industry. Local land prices are more dependent on real estate trends than on their true value as an agricultural input. Even though 87 % of local farmers owned the land they farm, leasing or renting land is the best and perhaps the only alternative for prospective growers to start a new farm or to expand an existing operation. Agricultural entrepreneurs should be more concerned with controlling, rather than owning the land and other resources they need to farm. The capital investment required to buy land and the resulting risk are often too large. Leasing or renting can provide the control they need and allow them to “try things out” without having to commit huge amounts of capital to purchase land or other resources.

    The terms leasing and renting are often used interchangeably when talking about land, the main difference being the length of the agreement. Cash rents and crop shares are the two main types of leases available for growers. However, a variety of combinations exist that differ in how risk is spread among the contracting parties. A variety of leasing agreements, sample contracts, and publications are available for your review and examination at the San Diego County Farm and Home Advisors Office.

    The following is a list of agencies and organizations that can provide information on buying or leasing agricultural land in San Diego County.
    - San Diego County Farm Bureau 1670 E. Valley Parkway Escondido, CA 92027-2498 Phone: (760) 745-3023 Email: sdcfb@sdfarmbureau.org
    - City of San Diego, Real Estate Assets Department Agricultural Leases Office 1200 Third Avenue, Suite 1700 San Diego, CA 92101 Phone: (619) 236-6020 5 http://www.sandiego.gov/real-estate-assets/index.shtml
    - County of San Diego, Real Property Division 5555 Overland Avenue, Bldg. 2, Room 110 San Diego, CA 92123 Phone: (858) 694-2291
     
  • Land Inventory
    <Project> compiled list of available land for agricultural use

Capital

  • Financial Assistance Overview
    Source: San Diego County Agricultural Directory & Guidelines For Agricultural Enterprises
    Starting an agricultural business can be an expensive undertaking. It is critical to develop a sound financial business plan before you embark on this venture. The process of developing the plan will help new and existing agricultural producers to estimate and forecast the level of sales and the cash flow for their business. This will allow them to determine the need and timing for borrowed funds and to explore all the alternatives available to secure the funds they need to finance their business. The majority of existing growers in San Diego County finance their operations with private funds. However, there are a variety of sources that growers could potentially use to borrow money. Private banks, production credit associations, equipment dealers, suppliers, cooperatives, packers, shippers, grower associations and insurance companies are some examples of private organizations and institutions that lend money for agricultural operations.

    In addition, a variety of government agencies and non-profit organizations can provide financial assistance through a variety of programs, contracts or grants. These programs usually lend at lower interest rates and can include direct loans, cost-share agreements or contracts and loan guarantees through private banks. The loan funds obtained can be used for a variety of purposes including farm and home ownership and operating loans. Regardless of the source for funds you plan to use, the competition for funds is tough. Having a sound, well written business and financial plan will be extremely helpful in selling your business to your prospective lender and in securing the funds you need. Also, it is very important that you communicate with your potential lender and discuss your ideas and all the possibilities that you are considering or should consider.

    The following is a list of agencies and organizations that provide financial assistance to growers in San Diego County.
    USDA Farm Service Agency FSA Service Center Office Riverside County Farm Service Agency 82-901 Bliss Avenue Indio, CA 92201 2 Phone: (760) 347-3675 Ext. 2 Fax: (760) 342-5346  Rosa Singh, County Executive Director
    Natural Resources Conservation Service 332 S. Juniper, Suite #110 Escondido, CA 92025 Phone: (760) 745-2061 Phone: (760) 745-3210 fax
    - Farm Credit Services of Southern California 960 Canterbury Place, Suite 210 Escondido, CA 92025 Phone: (760) 746-5055 Phone: (760) 746-5814 Fax
    - California Farm Link's Local program (operating and equipment/infrastructure loans to farmers) Contact email: loans@cafarmlink.org

Water

  • Water Use and Conservation
    Source: San Diego County Agricultural Directory & Guidelines For Agricultural Enterprises
    Water is the life-blood of agricultural operations whether it is supplied by rainfall or by irrigation. Producers in San Diego County face a unique and sometimes difficult challenge when dealing with water related issues. Our local growers pay some of the highest prices for water in California. Agricultural water rates can be as high as 30 times those of the Central Valley Project or Imperial Irrigation District. As a result, topics such as water quality, water availability, water sources, irrigation management and water conservation must be carefully addressed when discussing the development of a new agricultural enterprise. The following offices provide information, instruction and assistance to new agricultural business owners.

    These departments should be consulted during the planning phase of your operation to help insure the success of your business.
    - San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Department 4677 Overland Avenue San Diego, CA 92123 Phone: (858) 522-6600  
    - Mission Resource Conservation District PO Box 1777 Fallbrook, CA 92088-1777 Phone: (760) 728-1332
    - Greater San Diego Resource Conservation District 332 S. Juniper, Suite 110 Escondido, CA 92025 Phone: (760) 745-2061
    - County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health, Land & Water Quality Division San Diego Office 5201 Ruffin Road, Suite C San Diego, CA 92123 Phone: (858) 565-5173
    - County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health, Planning and Land Use Division El Cajon Office San Marcos Office 200 E. Main St, 6th Floor 151 East Carmel Street El Cajon, CA 92020 San Marcos, CA 92078 Phone: (619) 441-4030 Phone: (760) 471-0730 Fax: (619) 441-4411  
    - County of San Diego, Department of Public Works Waste Water and Transit 5201 Ruffin Road San Diego, CA 92123 Phone: (858) 874-4114
    - Regional Water Quality Control Board 9174 Sky Park Court, Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92123 Phone: (858) 467-2952
     
  • Irrigation supplies
    Ewing Irrigation in San Diego and Poway
    The Drip Store in Vista
    TORO in El Cajon
    Dripworks in Lakeside
  • Water harvesting and gray water is a great way to lower water usage
    Visit H2HOME and The Water Conservation Garden for information, inspiration and consultancy.
     

Soil and compost

Ensuring healthy soil is important and can be challenging in an urban setting. Therefore, soil testing is a critical step in starting an urban farm. Composting is furthermore a valuable source to recycle nutrients and building a healthy soil.

  • Soil testing labs: 
    Clarkson Lab: (619)-425-1993
    Environmental Engineering: (619)-298-6131
    Fallbrook Ag Lab: (760)-728-4628
    John Deere Landscape: (619)-562-8777 (Ask for Ed) 
    Pacific Analytical: (760)-496-2200  
    Soil and Plant Lab: (719-282-8777 (Orange County)
    Wallece Labs
    Wesminster CA by Home Advisor
    Waypoint analytical
    A&L Eastern Laboratories
     
  • Compost
    Source: San Diego County Agricultural Directory & Guidelines For Agricultural Enterprises
    The utilization of compost and composting can be an economically and environmentally desirable option for new producers. Depending on the scale of your operation, composting may be as simple as building a “back-yard” compost pile or as complex as creating a green-waste recycling operation. Issues related to land use, air pollution, and environmental health must be addressed when considering composting in your operation.
  • Where to buy compost and where to get training starting to compost
    Solana Center For Environmental Innovation has an extensive list of resources regarding composting workshops and supplies
    - Information and workshops in Chula Vista
    - Free compost can be acquired from Miramar (858) 268-8971
    City Farmers Nursery (619) 284-6358 sells compost by the truckload
    Agriservice sells compost in Oceanside
    - Walter Anderson (619) 224-8271 sells compost by the bagful
    - Local coffee roasters, breweries, juice bars and bakeries may give away their waste products for free
    - Horse stables may give away manure for free
    - Local tree trimmer may give away woodchipes for ground cover

Seeds

When you are ready to starting planting you plot, the next important step is going to be choosing what to plant and what variety you want to use.
- City Farmers Nursery
- seeds.com
San Diego Seed Library
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed
San Diego Hairloom Seed Swap in Balboa Park is arranged by San Diego Seed Stewards 
Botanico Blanco
Mesa Public Library in Arizona
Joseph Simcox: rare seed consortium
- eBay
Seed library of Los Angeles
The Portland Seed House

Pest management

Business Planning

A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues.

  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
    Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) have been around for 35 years. With nearly 1,000 locations across the country, each provides small businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the essential resources to start and grow. The Small Business Association website offers an overview of business plan components and an online tool to help create one. 
    SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTE - SAN DIEGO & IMPERIAL VALLEY NETWORK offers in-person consulting and training (both in-person and online). The workshop schedule can be accessed here.  

  • Business plan templates - To be updated 

  • Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook
    This general handbook from the EPA (2011) helps you ask the critical questions to prepare you for starting you own farming business. It goes through marketing, operating and financial strategies and provides worksheets and elaborate examples.

  • San Diego County Agricultural Directory & Guidelines For Agricultural Enterprises
    A How-to-Guide on starting a farming business in San Diego County

  • 2013 Crop Statistics Report
    Highest value edible crops/ products include avocados, tomatoes, lemons, eggs, berries

  • Certified Farmers Market Training
    San Diego County hosts 54 Farmers Markets throughout the week. Information and training about how to become Certified by the County Agricultural Commissioner to sell your produce at a Farmer's Market or open a Farmers Market is available at County of San Diego Department of Agriculture Weights & Measures. (San Marcos Office: 760-752-4700, San Diego Office: 858-614-7786). A comprehensive guide for selling at farmers markets, including pricing strategies and marketing can be found here.

  • Accion  
    Provides start up business loans and have workshops and boot camps in business planning. The events are nation wide and some events are arranged as webinars
     
  • Tend, Ag Sqared and Spin Farming
    Business planning apps that helps you price your products by helping you plan crop rotations, field work and keeping track of production.
     
  • Insurance
    The ACGA has some information about insurance, but the program mentioned does not cover CSA, food cooperative and commercial farming operation. 
     

Farmer Training Programs

  • Wild Willow - School for Sustainable Farming 
    Students start with the five-week Farming 101 course, which introduces them to the basics: development of rich, healthy, living soil and compost; tool use and care; bed building; drip irrigation; pests and beneficials and more. After graduation, students desiring more hands-on training and educational opportunities may enroll as a Tier 1 Farming Student, unlocking an all-access pass to weekly Saturday classes, Farm-with-Paul days, harvest days and more, where students gain knowledge and skills necessary to develop and operate a small organic farm business. Tier 1 is a year-round program that can be entered any time after completion of Farming 101. Students learn at their own pace.

  • Seeds@City - Sustainable Urban Agriculture Program
    Seeds@City Urban Farm is a one-acre working farm located in the heart of downtown San Diego that serves as the outdoor classroom for the Sustainable Urban Agriculture program at San Diego City College. They train young, urban farmers while growing nutritious food for our community, encouraging self-reliance and a thriving local economy. The Sustainable Urban Agriculture program in the Life Sciences Department and offers a hands-on approach to becoming a professional working in agriculture related fields or continuing on to earn an Associate's degree for those planning to continue education in agriculture at a university. 
  • Archies Acres - Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training Program
    Archi's Acres philosophy is to look to the veteran and millennial community for assets such as leadership and give them opportunities in a growing industry. The Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program is an agricultural entrepreneurial incubator, taking students from seed-to-market. They now offer a 14 week nights and weekends class as well as the 6 week full time course. More than 200 graduates have left their farm ready to help feed our nation the highest quality food available using the least amount of natural resources, while tapping into a fast growing sector with unique opportunities for small business's and family farms.  They assist with the job placement and business creation after graduation of VSAT. Graduates include successful farm owners and workers, soil-testing pioneers, restaurateurs, and owners of food companies. 

Farming Advocates/ Support Organizations

  • San Diego County Farm Bureau
    The mission of the Farm Bureau of San Diego County is to represent San Diego agriculture through public relations, education, and public policy advocacy in order to promote the economic viability of agriculture balanced with appropriate management of natural resources. The San Diego County Farm Bureau is a non-profit organization supported solely by more than 5,000 dues-paying members. There are 53 county Farm Bureaus in California. Established in 1913, the San Diego County Farm Bureau serves the needs of the agriculture community in accordance with its mission statement.
  • Wild Willow Farm
    Educating, Cultivating and Empowering Sustainable Food Communities in San Diego County Since 2007
    Wild Willow Farm & Education Center is a six-acre working farm located in the southwest corner of the United States, less than three miles from the Pacific Ocean and two-thirds mile north of the Mexican Border. The farm is nestled along the banks of the scenic Tijuana River, and borders the river's stunningly beautiful estuary nature preserve. 
  • Seeds@City
    Seeds@City Urban Farm is a one-acre working farm located in the heart of downtown San Diego that serves as the outdoor classroom for the Sustainable Urban Agriculture program at San Diego City College. They train young, urban farmers while growing nutritious food for our community, encouraging self-reliance and a thriving local economy. At Seeds@City you can: 1) Work toward a career-tech certificate in Sustainable Urban Agriculture to boost your career options or start your own business. 2) Complete an Associate Degree in Sustainable Urban Agriculture for transfer to a university. 3) Take urban agriculture classes for your personal development. 4) Enjoy a beautiful, working farm right on campus. 5) Purchase local, seasonal produce on campus from our weekly Monday farm stand. 6) Become a shareholder in our weekly community supported agriculture (CSA) program and take home a bag of fresh seasonal produce every week 
  • Archie’s Acres
    Archi's Acres is a farming enterprise that utilizes hydro-organic technology to grow produce. Headquartered in Escondido, California, Archi's is a certified organic greenhouse operation, which grows living basil, kale, and other herbs and produce. Our methods of crop production is not only highly efficient, it maximizes available natural resources, and focuses on local sales distribution channels. Please enjoy our organic produce in natural food retailers throughout Southern California and thank you for your support!
    At Archi's, we believe a key aspect of successful business is how it meets its responsibility to the community in which it operates and the customers which make up its marketplace. We do this by integrating into our business model an opportunity to support America's most valued citizens, our military veterans. Archi's Acres provides veterans a one of a kind world-class sustainable agricultural entrepreneurial incubator program, the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program, partnered with Cal Poly Pomona, and is 17 academic credits, with the intent to exposes these strong, young leaders to the entrepreneurial opportunities which exist in the agriculture industry today. Although working with vets is our foundation, VSAT is now open to the public, providing training to anyone interested in learning more about the business behind sustainable agriculture. Learn more about us by clicking here!
  • ATTRA
    The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, ATTRA, is a program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The majority of funding for ATTRA is through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. They are also partially funded through sales and subscriptions of a portion of ATTRA materials and through contributions from friends and supporters. ATTRA is committed to providing high value information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, Extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States.
  • UC Cooperative Extension San Diego County Farm and Home Advisor
    Across California, the University of California’s 64 Cooperative Extension offices are local problem-solving centers. They are the bridge between local issues and the power of UC research. As part of the agricultural community, we help farmers develop more-efficient growing methods, solve pest management problems, and improve irrigation methods. As stewards of the land and water, we help develop smart water-use strategies; develop wildfire, pollution prevention, and invasive species education; and help preserve natural areas, waterways and farmland. As advocates for healthy communities, we promote healthy diets and exercise for better health, help Californians learn to choose the most nutritious foods and help shape the citizens of tomorrow through the 4-H Youth Development Program. And thousands of volunteers extend the reach of our work through the Master Gardener Program and the California 4-H Youth Development Program. We work in full partnership with federal, state, county and private resources. We are stewards, problem-solvers, catalysts, collaborators and educators. We are UC Cooperative Extension.
  • Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
    The mission of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS or the Center) is to research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and that serve as a foundation for future generations. The status as a Center within the Division of Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz enables the Center to undertake projects in many disciplines in the pursuit of these goals, and to work with faculty, staff, and students from throughout the university. Beyond the campus the Center collaborates with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), growers, community members, visiting students and researchers, and state and federal agencies, including UC Cooperative Extension and the US Department of Agriculture. The Center's work includes both theoretical and applied research; academic education and practical training; and community outreach and public service for audiences ranging from local school children to international agencies.
  • San Diego Extension Agents
    The Farm and Home Advisor conducts a variety of programs in education and applied research in a unique three-way partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of California, and the County of San Diego. Also known as "Cooperative Extension," the Farm and Home Advisor Office plays a central role in connecting San Diegans to the resources of a national network of land-grant universities. University of California advisors work with community leaders, government agencies, private organizations, and individuals to address local issues and solve problems. They extract useful and practical information from research and extend it to farmers, land managers, business people, educators, families, and consumers. Educational programs are conducted through individual consultations, seminars, field days, publications, and the mass media. 
  • San Diego County Ag, Weights and Measures
    Promoting a thriving agricultural community, healthy residents and balanced environment
    County Ag Weights and Measures Department supports a fair marketplace and consumer confidence in the accuracy of product weight, measure and price. 
    Specific activities include:
    1. Ensure the safe use of pesticides and investigate illnesses
    2. Inspect eggs for defects to prevent food-borne illnesses
    3. Prevent the establishment of pests that require pesticide controls, sting or severely injure people, or inhibit growing fresh nutritious fruits, vegetables and other plants
    4. Promote the use of effective biocontrol measures
    5. Regulate organic growers, certified producers and certified farmers’ markets to allow local marketing of fresh commodities
    6. Ensure accurate net quantity of packaged goods and accuracy of commercial weighing, measuring and scanning devices
    7. Protect people from injury and disease caused by wildlife

Other Resources