Urban Farming in San Diego

Local Sprouts curator Katie met Jenny Goff when they were both living on a small island off the coast of Maine. Having followed Jenny’s adventures, Katie knew Jenny’s idea of local had to be shared with all of you!

Jenny is a native San Diegan who has rerooted herself in this community after traveling and living around the world on land and at sea. After going to school in New York she discovered the watery world of sailing and found she could make her way to beautiful places using the wind,waves, and meals cooked on the diagonal to pull her along. She also learned about the beauty of self-sufficiency, the existence of open air markets for fresh produce, and the reality of limited resources. Stints on land in between maritime adventures included running a bed and breakfast with an orchard and garden on an island in Maine, doing theater in New York City, and backpacking through countries where you can get a roasted squirrel on a stick in most markets. A decade and a half after leaving San Diego Jenny returned to apprentice at Seeds@City and Wild Willow Farms in the Fall of 2011 to increase her knowledge about growing her own food. As crazy as it might sound, she found that the sailing life and farming life are remarkably similar in rigor, unpredictability, and the amount of joy they can bring in the simplest ways. Jenny can be found working with volunteers, digging, planting, and sharing culinary creations (dandelion pesto anyone?) as Seeds@City’s Farm Coordinator.

Community Farming

LS: Where is your local community and what do you love about it? How could you describe it?

JG: I work in downtown San Diego on the campus of San Diego City Community College. We are hemmed in by skyscrapers, the bay, and freeways. I love the urban setting. We use land that is otherwise underutilized in my opinion- like lawn or a difficult to access space between buildings. We are growing thousands of pounds of food on one acre, much of it terraced. Our community is diverse in age, ethnicity, physical ability, and background. We have every type of person possible coming through the farm and getting excited about growing their own food. Or at the very least eating more veggies.

Urban Farming in San Diego

LS: If you were showing someone from out of town around your local area, where would you take them? 

JG: If they are interested in local food systems I would take them to our local farms! Seeds@City of course, then Wild Willow Farm and Educational Center, Olivewood Gardens, New Roots Farm, and many of the urban community gardens like the Peace Garden in City Heights. There’s so much to do in San Diego that isn’t downtown in the Gaslamp or at the beaches. Wander through the neighborhoods like South Park for locally owned crafts or go get pho in City Heights or drive up to the mountains to go for a hike. Balboa Park, while touristy, is still pretty beautiful.

If we didn’t cook for ourselves with produce from one of the 50+ farmers markets in San Diego, we would go out to eat at one of the amazing farm to table restaurants in town. Urban Solace, Spread, Casa De Luz, Alexander’s, and Sea Rocket in North Park, Alchemy and The Rose Wine Pub in South Park, and JSix downtown are all great options.

LS: What does ‘local’ mean to you?

JG: Local means making sure that our community can provide for itself, that we aren’t relying on produce from thousands of miles away or on the natural resources we are depleting for the produce to make that journey.  I just love food and empowering people to take care of themselves and their community. I feel very lucky to be able to farm at such an inspirational place.


LS: San Diego hidden local gem?

JG:  Not so hidden but I went there today and was blown away by the natural beauty: Sunset Cliffs for a great ocean view. My favorite wine bars with local food are The Rose Wine Pub in South Park and Counterpoint in Golden HillCoffee and Tea Collective is a new hip café with amazing brews! Presidio Park above Old Town is tranquil and has some great views. Biking along Mission Bay to Ocean Beach is a great way to spend an afternoon (I know I said stay away from the beaches if you want a more authentic experience but they are still gorgeous).

LS: Local person, cultural or food experience Local Sprouts should seek out?

JG:  The new San Diego Public Market is trying to do great things for the food scene here.




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