FarmBlog: How green is my house…

By | Farm

Thank you to all of the generous donors in our fundraising campaign!

With your support we have raised over $700 to buy a new greenhouse!


Do you remember the Jetsons, when you could push a button and a house would fabricate from materials automatically? This doesn’t work like that.


The campaign is not over yet, and we still have miles to go before we sleep.  We need tools, supplies, amendments and a whole host of other things to make this sustainable urban farm work.  If you haven’t contributed yet and would like to, the link is here:

 And if you can’t contribute monetarily you can help by sharing the link on social media, and just talking to your friends, family and neighbors about the importance of sustainable farming.  This project is designed to create food security in an area that desperately needs it, and every bit of support we get from the community will be paid back to the community and beyond.  Thank you again for helping to support our project!

In actual farm news, spring is here!

We’ve seen some promising new growth from the surrounding area and especially from some of our trees!

photo 1

A flowering Eastern Redbud Pansy. Is it edible? I dunno… probably?


With spring comes flowers, butterflies, bees… and gophers, cutworm, rabbits and everything else in the world that rang the dinner bell.  This is the main reason why a greenhouse is so important to our operation: protection of seedlings while they mature to become transplants.  Part of the challenge of growing nutritious and delicious food sustainably is that everyone (and everything) wants a piece!  We can go from a tray of seedlings that look like this:

photo 3

They are all inside some animal’s stomach now. Don’t cry for them, for they knew no pain.


to one that has been decimated by rats, squirrels and grasshoppers overnight.  The farm team and myself have been working tirelessly (tirelessly!) to identify the challenges of growing in an urban environment and move forward in a sustainable and ethical manner.  Hopefully with some new resources we can get some protected seedlings in the ground and kick this farm off right!

FarmBlog: Donate or Share… or both!

By | Farm

We’re taking the farm to the next level!  Or trying to at least…

We need your help in raising funds through GoFundMe to make some capital improvements on the farm this summer!  Any amount that you (as a community member) can contribute will help us immeasurably.  If you can’t donate anything you can still help us by sharing this blog post on FaceBook, twitter, e-mail, carrier pigeon, or smoke signal.

The GoFundMe site where you can donate is here:

We are asking for $5000 in order to purchase the following supplies and incidentals that arise when starting an urban farm from scratch:

Greenhouse irrigation
Greenhouse temperature and humidity controls (fans and vents)
Broadfork and hand-tilling equipment
Hand-held garden tools
Irrigation supplies
Row Cover
Temperature and Humidity gauges
Planting trays
Compost Thermometers
Storage Units
Harvesting equipment
Washing station equipment
Building supplies

There is a lot of equipment, big and small, that is needed to start and run a farm. Sure, we don’t need a tractor, but we need plenty of stuff to make up for not having a tractor! 🙂

Please help to make this farm a success. Any amount donated will be greatly appreciated and go to a VERY good cause (who doesn’t like to eat?). If you can’t donate now, please take a second to pass the word. Social media is a great way to make sure everyone is in the loop.

Once again, the link to donate or share is here:



FarmBlog: Updates and a big “Thank You”

By | Farm

I know it’s been awhile since our last FarmBlog update, but things have been busy kicking into high gear!

Firstly, a special thanks to Melissa Durand, her boyfriend John and her mother Barbara!  They volunteered out of the blue to bring in a roto-tiller and help us mix our compost into the field.  You saved us so much back-breaking labor and we really appreciate it!  We still have plenty of back-breaking labor however.  Here’s a photo of our wonderful volunteers with their handiwork in the background.

photo (5)


We’re also getting ever closer to actual food production.  We have several flats of seedlings growing and even a few crops out in the field.  The biggest challenge so far has been increasing the soil fertility, but we need patience.  Building soil fertility is something that can take months or years if you do it correctly and responsibly.  Adding compost, cover cropping, encouraging soil biodiversity and all are great – but I want radishes now!  Every step brings us a little closer to our goal, and we really appreciate everyone’s volunteer efforts that help us along that way.

MTM Earth Stewards!

By | Farm

127Millennial Tech Middle school students love taking care of their watershed, helping endangered species, restoring habitats, and planting trees. Sixth and seventh graders volunteered their personal time on both the weekend and  on a holiday to help plant native species in an effort to restore critical Coastal Cactus Wren habitat and to help reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. As their EarthLab teacher, I am happy to say how proud I am of their dedication and commitment to their planet and to their futures. Congratulations on a job well done!

Ms. Proctor

Education Director, EarthLab

FarmBlog: Don’t fence me in…

By | Farm

NEWSFLASH: Digging holes and pouring concrete is very, very tiring!  This week we focused on fencing off the farm site and preventing some of the more detrimental critters from gaining access to the crops.  For the fence posts we used recycled lumber that was already on the property and hardware cloth for the fence itself.    With the fence completed, we should be able to keep out rabbits, coyotes and other mid-sized mammals.  Now we only have to worry about gophers!  And rats.  And birds.  And insects.  And hungry humans. Still, it’s progress!

photo 3

Here’s our awesome fence! Don’t think it’s awesome? Where’s your fence? That’s what I thought.



Once the finishing touches on the fence are complete, it’s actually time to plant something!  This week will be dedicated to amending soil, preparing transplants, bed-building and actual farm work!  How exciting.  Add a dash of compost, a pinch of complete organic fertilizer, some water and HEY PRESTO! something should actually start growing.  We already have some seedlings starting to sprout (Giant Fordhook Chard, Corvair Spinach, Pak Choi and more) and we can’t wait to get them in the ground!


FarmBlog: Water, Water, Everywhere…

By | Farm

Another week and the farm project is one step closer to fruition (or vegetable-ition, perhaps).

photo (4)

Yesss….. install the drip tape my minions! Do my bidding!


With a little creative plumbing, we were able to put in the drip irrigation and get all the beds irrigated.  As you might imagine it’s rather difficult to grow plants without a steady supply of water, even though we have a bumper crop of weeds this season.  A lot of people wonder what the benefit of drip irrigation is as opposed to traditional sprinklers or flood irrigation.  They come to me and say “Farm Manager, why drip irrigation?  Do you just enjoy constantly rolling and unrolling lengths of flexible tubing whilst plugging leaks?”

“Nay”, I say.  Drip irrigation offers a variety of benefits, especially in San Diego!  Drip irrigation is:

  • Extremely drought friendly!  Water is pushed out of spaced emitters in the line that travel directly to the root system or seed that you’re growing.
  • Easy to replace!  Have a leak?  Cut out that section and stick it back together with a coupling.
  • Smart Farming! When you spray water over an entire plant with a sprinkler there are a lot of drawbacks.  You lose most of your water to evaporation before it ever gets to the plants, AND what water remains on the leaves creates a great environment for bad bacteria to flourish.  Keep the leaves dry and put the water where its needed.
  • Flexible!  Literally and figuratively.  You can run poly tube and drip tape almost anywhere.

So that’s that.  With the field prepped and the drip tape out we’re almost ready to farm!  ALMOST.  This week we’re focusing on building a fence to keep out the pesky “nature” that enjoys eating what we eat.  Without a fence-line we’ll just be growing a buffet for ground squirrels and rabbits.


Stay tuned for more photos and updates!  As always, if you’re interested in volunteering, interning, contributing or otherwise interacting with the EarthLab Farm please contact me directly at

I love to answer questions and work with our community!

Our native plant propagation center is growing!

By | Farm, Uncategorized

We’ve been busy this past month building our propagation house and preparing our gallon growing area.  There are currently over a dozen species of California native plant seedlings growing in our propagation house.  They are loving the warm, sunny weather!   UCSD volunteers will finish the gallon run in March, just in time move our gallon containers out.  DSC00009

FarmBlog: Rise of the Planet of the Weeds

By | Farm

Happy New Year to all our faithful FarmBlog readers!

In the past few weeks we have made great strides in the development of the farm site.

Firstly, a huge thanks to Jacob Kissack and the CRU crew for making a fantastic contribution to the EarthLab project!  With their help we were able to prepare the farm site by flattening the field, cleaning up the trash, moving tons of gravel and generally being all-around swell folks.  Their assistance moved the farm that much closer to completion and we will always be thankful.

Secondly, our farm progress is moving right along!  In the past few weeks we have lined out the planting rows with twine, run the sub-surface irrigation and started the weeding.  So much weeding.  Did we mention the weeding?  Luckily, when that is finished the next step is to install the drip irrigation, build a fence to keep out varmints (I’m looking at you, gophers), fluff up the rows with some compost and then actually plant something!  Then, probably do some more weeding.  This farm has only been possible because of the excitement and momentum provided by the community, and we are all looking forward to growing some delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables to share with everyone.

And finally… a note about an internship opportunity for students or professionals interested in sustainable urban agriculture.  EarthLab is offering a few internship spots that will qualify for course credit at San Diego City Community College!  This internship requires a commitment of at least 12 hours a week and enrollment in AGRI270.  Additional internships may be offered for lesser hours or non-course credit on a case-by-case basis.  Interns will be asked to make a multiple month commitment and will learn the basics of building and running a small-scale urban farm (including crop/farm planning, irrigation, marketing, the certification process, and more.)

If you are interested in applying please contact Adam Graves at by January 19th.  Please attach a current resume as well as a brief note about why you’re interested in sustainable agriculture in an urban setting.

I will leave you with an inspirational photo of… an empty farm site.  But it shall not be empty for long…

Look at all that cheeseweed! Contrary to the name it is not delicious.

Look at all that cheeseweed! Contrary to the name it is not delicious.

Stay tuned for the next FarmBlog!

Farm blog is live!

By | Farm
Thanks to everyone who has gotten the farm project to this point!  We’ve had a lot of community support and involvement with building this urban farm, and now we have our live blog!  The purpose of this blog is to keep the community, volunteers, students and staff apprised of the progress of building a farm.  We will post photos, descriptions and details for upcoming volunteer opportunities here and maybe other fun tidbits like recipes and gardening tips.
I’m hoping that some (or all) of you are interested in coming to the EarthLab site and helping out with the planning and construction of this urban farm.  This is the first main project of its kind in San Diego, and it’s in an area of the city that really needs YOUR support.  We’re still at the very beginning stages of planning and building the farm, so anyone who is interested in the entire farm development process – from irrigation to marketing to distribution – should find something of value here.  But first, the basics…


What is it?
EarthLab is a project sponsored by the Groundwork national non-profit.  It is a multi-acre acre plot that is directly adjacent to Millennial Tech Middle School on San Diego Unified School District land.  Primarily the acres are split between three main goals: nature education for SDUSD children on the west end, habitat restoration on the Chollas creek in the middle of the property, and a sustainable/organic urban farm on the east end of the property.  The farm is approximately 1/2 an acre.


Where is it?
It’s directly off the 94 freeway on Euclid Ave, and adjacent to Millennial Tech Middle School.  The easiest way to get there by car is to go to the school (1110 Carolina Ln) and park by Gompers park.  There is a pedestrian entrance on the east side, directly on the farm but the gate is padlocked and would require someone on the inside to open it for you.


What’s the plan for the farm?
Right now the farm is a plot of dirt with a propagation hut in the middle.  We are working with plenty of industry experts to develop the farm in a logical and cost-effective way, but it truly is a blank canvas!  As we decide how to proceed, I’ll send out e-mails detailing when, where, and what the upcoming projects are and how you can get involved.  I will try to include anyone who is interested in the entirety of the planning process as well as introduce you to helpful people that we are working with.  This is a great chance to network and get known in the farming community if you’re interested!


Currently, our volunteering times fluctuate quite a bit.  Currently we are looking at volunteers for Wednesday, December 10th anytime from 9:30am to 1:30pm.  A few notes about volunteering:


Volunteering can be physically strenuous, please bring water, a hat and gloves.
Please let the farm manager (me, Adam Graves, know that you are interested in volunteering on a given day.  You can shoot him a short e-mail at the address above.


If you are interested in having a large group volunteer day at the farm, please contact Adam at least a few weeks in advance.


The more people the better!  We want this to be a community driven project and get everyone involved!


Thanks and we’ll hopefully see you soon!


-Adam Graves