Who knew that there was an operating farm in San Diego County west of I-5? We certainly didn't, but we do now. This past Saturday, Slow Food Urban organized a visit Suzie's Farm, an organic farm located just south of Imperial Beach in the Tijuana River Valley.
Pimping some freshly uprooted carrots in the picture above is not Suzie (although she gets asked that a lot). It is Lucila De Alejandro, who operates the farm with her husband Robin Taylor. Suzie was their dog. Well, kind of. Suzie was a Norwegian Elkhound that lived wild in the valley, and later with them.
And the property we visited wasn't strictly Suzie's Farm. It is "Kiki Town" - a 40 acre parcel of land right nearby their original farm location that they have been farming since last July. Why "Kiki Town"? Named after one of their current Norwegian Elkhounds, of course.
Right now the farm is harvesting the tail end of their winter and spring planting and are getting geared up for summer. Below you can some of the of thousands and thousands of tomato plants in numerous varieties that they've started:
Or are they nettles :-) By touring the fields and observing, it became immediately apparent that one of the challenges of growing organic crops near the sea in San Diego is that nettles will grow almost better than anything you intentionally plant.
The fields start nice and clean. Below you can see lovely young bean plants shooting up from beneath a soil-warming layer of black plastic (and right along side, the tender young nettle plants growing between the rows!).
They had a very nice variety of gorgeous lettuces growing, like these green and purple leaf lettuces.
Between the newly planted fields and the older, winter crops was a beautiful, edible "wall." One of the participants likened it to a stone fence, building up in layers. It is composed of carrots in the front (light green tops just visible here), followed by rows of black kale, swiss chard, purple mustard lettuce and finally arugula going to seed in a tall bright yellow swath. We tasted it all - the mustard leaf tasting very much like spicy mustard and the arugula intense and peppery even in its waning state.
So many plants looked picture perfect, like this late season cabbage. Where are the worms and pests?! (Unlike my home patio garden...)
The tour we attended included some opportunity to take home the ultimately fresh goods. We harvested rainbow chard (below), broccoli, cauliflower (had some roasted Sunday night - lovely), sugar snap peas, and a little of this and that as desired.
All in all, it was a very pleasant couple of hours.
Suzie's Farm has a CSA (if we weren't already very happy with our own farmers market we'd be very tempted to join), and they supply a bunch of restaurants in town.
Real people growing real food for real people. Just 20 miles down I-5 from our very urban home!