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Wild Willow School for Sustainable Farming

Testimonials from our students

How Farmschool changed my life. An account of how I found my passion of gardening on a small-scale farm in San Diego, and the lessons about life, community, resilience, and independence I learned there. It challenges our current economic, food, and societal systems that have left the majority of us dependent on those systems. But above all, this piece serves as a call arms to join the fight to gain our independence back by gardening, growing your own food, and by supporting your local food community.

-- by farmschool graduate Jay Reid

We teach regenerative farming.

Learn to grow better, healthier food where you live, and more of it, using cutting-edge practices that can be taught in the winter in coastal Southern California's unique climate. What we teach is applicable to all forms of agriculture, urban and rural, whether you're an entrepreneur, a home vegetable/fruit grower, or simply have agricultural curiosity. We want you to grow food where you live.

We begin with the Soil.

Our farming philosophy begins with the development of healthy, rich, living soil that offers multiple beneficial effects, including plant health, water retention, carbon sequestration, and natural resistances to pests and disease.

Goals of the Program

1. Educate students in the basic mechanics and philosophy of how to grow food ethically and ecologically using means suitable for urban and small-scale farming or gardening.

2. Cultivate new growers using hands-on learning experiences on a working farm; provide food literacy and understanding of what a healthy food system can look like and how to achieve it.

3. Empower everyone to grow food where they live -- for their own health, the health of their families, their communities and the world.

Why This Course? Why Now?

We teach sustainable farming because the current conventional agriculture food system exerts tremendous pressure on natural resources and habitats while compromising the economic, environmental and physical health of our communities. Cheap food is killing us and the planet. Industrial agriculture threatens the food security of everyone and the health of those who farm and eat foods grown with pesticides, fertilizers and other toxicants. We think small-scale agriculture is the solution -- growing food where we live -- and we teach you how to do that.

Next Session: Fall

September 29 to November 10

7 Field Labs, Saturdays 9am to 4pm at Wild Willow Farm
6 Classes, Wednesday 7pm to 9pm in central San Diego

Learn more.

Wild Willow Farm's Farming 101: Introduction to Small-scale Regenerative Farming course offers students an introduction to techniques and strategies for small farming or agricultural advocacy, or to simply grow more of their own food.

2018 Course Schedule

Fall Sep 29 to Nov. 10

Our Vision

Wild Willow Farm's School for Sustainable Farming is fulfilling the vision and purpose of San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, an educational non-profit whose mission is to educate, cultivate and empower sustainable food communities in San Diego County. From the beginning, we have been advocates for building a healthy, locally based food system by promoting urban, small-scale farming, teaching locally appropriate and sustainable practices, and encouraging people to be engaged with their food system through education, volunteering, community events, workshops and more.

We welcome and encourage you, as farm Wild Willow farm students, to express yourselves and be creative. We are a collection of talents and we want this to be a safe space for yours. The vision for the farm is a collective one, formed out of the community that surrounds and nurtures us and to which you, as students, will be a part. We welcome you to participate in our vision during Farming 101 and beyond!

Our Tiered Program


Tier 1: Farming Fundamentals

"I do"

Participants start out on Tier 1. Curriculum includes two courses, field lessons and work-experience labs. Tier One begins with two courses: our six week Introduction to Small-Scale Farming (Farming 101), and the six week Growing Seasonal Crops (Farming 102). Students supplement the courses with weekday and weekend skills-workshops and work-experience field labs to reinforce lessons and further develop farming understanding, practices and skills.

Tier 1 students are actively learning and practicing farming skills while participating as vital members of the community that is Wild Willow Farm.

The Tier 1 Work-Experience Field Labs incorporate key lessons into our routine farm work. Work side-by-side with our farm coaches on field projects to refine your skills in our Fundamental Farm Skills Check-List.

For more details about Tier 1, click here.

Tier 2: Continuing Education

"We Do"

Tier 2 is a continuing and advancement of farming skills, or a deeper exploration of basic-level instructions offered at the Tier 1 level. The focus of Tier 2 is one-on-one mentorship with our farm staff in the field. Continuing Education classes are taught by Wild Willow instructional staff and by guest lecturers to broaden and deepen students' knowledge and understanding. Some coursework may take place at other sites, farms and orchards around San Diego County.

Intended Outcome: student gains confidence in farming skills and abilities.

Prerequisites for Tier 2

Students with completion of Farming 101, Farming 102 and at least 40 hrs of field lab at the Tier 1 level are eligible to apply for Tier 2. On a case by case basis, prospective students may substitute farm experience and/or equivalent farm education for Farming 101 and Farming 102. All students must pass the bed building test before admittance into the Tier 2 program.

Field Work Applying knowledge and farm skills in a dedicated student field to accomplish seed-to-harvest farm tasks under their farming coaches, who work with students to establish goals and evaluate progress.

Farm Rotations Offered to help students develop farm-skills and provide opportunities for deeper study in these focus areas:
• Composting • Irrigation • Pest Control
• Propagation • Marketing • Animals • Maintenance

Community Participate in monthly potlucks and other community events. Utilize and lead Tier 1 and/or volunteers in farm projects. Lead groups and visitors in farm field trips.

Continuing Education Classes We offer continuing education classes on a wide-range of important subjects that are meant to further deepen the knowledge and skills necessary for farmers and growers to know. Click here for a menu of these classes. Classes are offered at a reduced price for Tier 2 students.

Tier 3 The Business of Farming
& Farm Incubation

"You do"

The difference between farming and gardening is that farming is a business.

This Tier provides opportunities for beginning farmers to learn business skills and incubate their own small-farm goals in a supportive environment that provides the practical tools needed to make small-farming dreams a reality.

Business Classes Tier 3 offers classes and courses in business management, farm planning, production planning, bookkeeping, regulatory compliance and more. Many Tier 3 classes are open to all students at any level and o tthe general public.

Upon completion of prerequisites, students may apply for Farm Incubation and be given the opportunity to incubate their own ideas before setting out on their own.

If you've got questions, please email us at .