Wild Willow Farm & Education Center is a non-profit educational farm in South San Diego, adjacent to the Tijuana River. Only a short 15 minute drive from downtown, the farm’s free and low-cost services relating to regenerative agriculture and community health are accessible to all urban San Diegans. Everything from farm tours, field trips, multi-week courses, volunteer and internship opportunities, to a weekly CSA share are offered.
Farm Manager Gregg Caddy oversees countless daily operational tasks to keep the farm running. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give members of our Urban Food Equity Team, Elle Mari and Rodrigo Alvarez, a tour and share more about his plans for the walk-in farm cooler we awarded the farm earlier this year. Farmer Gregg explained why spaces like Wild Willow are essential in fighting food insecurity in the South Bay, where urban farms can help bridge the grocery gap for many low-income families seeking high-quality local produce at affordable prices.
Wild Willow takes a holistic approach to hands-on education and progressive stewardship of the land. The farm forgoes resource intensive practices and synthetic inputs used by conventional agriculture. Instead, Farmer Gregg and his team employ innovative and tried regenerative farming techniques such as aerobic waste composting, grafting and budding, and polyculture to focus on soil health and resiliency through harmony with nature. Likewise, their commitment to supporting education and improved food access for South Bay communities is demonstrated in their Farm to Families Program and numerous community-enriching initiatives since its founding in 2010.
Unfortunately, the farm’s survival has become precarious due to the impacts of several factors such as: the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting business operations and significantly reducing revenue streams like field trips and farm school, Tijuana River floods causing delays in production and harvest capabilities, and challenges navigating the process to secure land tenure with the County of San Diego. Our team has partnered with Wild Willow and their parent non-profit, The Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County, for several years to help connect them with other farms and gardens through our San Diego Urban Growers’ Collaborative and offer technical assistance and resources. Most recently, we awarded the farm a new energy efficient walk-in outdoor refrigeration cooler to improve production, harvest, aggregation, storage, and distribution capacities, through our grant with the Office of Farm to Fork at the California Department of Food & Agriculture. We’ve also featured Wild Willow’s CSA share on our Good Food Finder.
As we start to see a brighter path forward during the pandemic with increased vaccinations and lower rates of infection across the county, Wild Willow has reopened the farm for volunteers, field trips, and farm school. You can also directly contribute to the farm by donating to their fundraising campaign here.