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Smart Growth Awards project nominee

Seeds at City brings urban farming to downtown San Diego

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Seeds at City is a partnership among San Diego City College, Roots Sustainable Food Project, San Diego High School and Garfield High School, focused on stimulating organic urban farming in downtown San Diego.

Established in June 2008, the effort has already created two separate planting areas on or near the San Diego City College campus, each garden replacing traditional landscaping. Output from the urban farm is sold at a weekly Farmers Market, also located on the SDCC campus.

The project is supported by Paul Maschka and Julie Dasche, and was the brainchild of Karon Klipple, a mathematics professor at San Diego City College and director of City College's Environmental Stewardship Committee. Labor is provided by volunteers, and through an internship program at SDCC.

Small-scale local urban farming decreases our dependence on industrial agriculture, reduces transportation requirements between field and grocer, refocuses water formerly used for landscape irrigation and connects people with the food that they eat.

As consumer demand shifts from conventional lawns to those requiring significantly less water, existing landscaping firms will be forced to incorporate new practices. In addition, entrepreneurial opportunities will emerge for those prepared to offer solutions to reduced resource availability. Seeds at City has proposed a program to meet this industry demand for trained individuals by creating a sustainable urban agriculture certificate program that builds on the foundation of City College's Urban Farm.

The group is raising funds to hire two professional urban farmers/garden educators to design and implement curriculum in this new certificate program. From June to April 2010, these professionals will research, design, develop and seek approval for the new program. In addition, they will create imperative supporting activities such as professional development opportunities and training for college faculty, staff and administrators, a comprehensive bridge program between City College and San Diego High Schools and Garfield High School, internships with industry and technology leaders, accessibility to all students regardless of disability, and outreach and retention efforts designed specifically for special populations. In May 2010, Seeds will launch the first sequence of courses in the program.

Additionally, City College is planning to launch a student-run business in which students consult, design and implement sustainable landscaping for individuals and institutions. As support for this endeavor and interest increases, the program is expanding to additional sites around the campus.

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