Steps Towards Farming in San Diego
Understanding zoning, land tenure, and leasing is critical to starting a successful farming operation. Learn about buying or leasing agricultural land and determine which makes more sense for you.
A detailed business plan is key to ensuring the profitability of your farm. This page outlines the components of a business plan and provides tools and templates to help you create one.
Soil health is crucial to the immediate and long term productivity of your plot. Find out how to test your soil for contaminants and where to source high quality compost.
Explore your options for financial assistance. Potential sources of loans and grants include private institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Stay up to date regarding permits, certifications, and other regulatory processes.
Learn about integrated pest management strategies that can help you solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment.
Water quality, water availability, water sources, irrigation management and water conservation must be carefully addressed when discussing the development of a new agricultural enterprise.
Consult these resources to learn about marketing strategies that can help your farm business thrive. Learn about product pricing and highest value edible crops.
There are distinct differences between backyard, community, and school gardens. Learn more about management and production in each of these contexts.
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 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!
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