Farming 101: Basics of Small-scale Sustainable Farming

Fall session now enrolling

12-week instructional and practical experience on a working sustainable farm

Classes begin Thursday, September 5, 2013
Taught by Paul Maschka

Wild Willow Farm's 12 week Sustainable Farming 101 course offers students and introduction to techniques and strategies for small farming or agricultural advocacy, or to simply grow more of their own food.

The course consists of weekly lectures and fieldwork where students learn what it takes to work a small organic farm. Students take part in classroom lectures and projects, and work alongside farm staff to practice material covered in class.
The course consists of weekly lectures and fieldwork where students learn what it takes to work a small organic farm. Students take part in classroom lectures and projects, and work alongside farm staff to practice material covered in class.

Students who successfully complete the course earn a Certificate of Accomplishment.

Wild Willow Farm & Education Center is a program of the non-profit San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, whose mission is to educate, cultivate and empower sustainable food systems in San Diego County. Since the farm began in 2010, WWF's goal has been to teach about where food comes from and how to grow it, both in urban and rural agricultural settings, using sustainable practices best suited for San Diego's unique climate and year-round growing seasons. These conditions afford our students learning opportunities that exist nowhere else in the United States.

Topics Covered
Basic Soil Science
Cultivation techniques
Direct sowing
Drip Irrigation installation
Environmentally Friendly Pest Control
Warm Season and Cool Season Crop Cultural Requirements
Greenhouse and Shade House Growing
Soil Fertility Enhancement Through Composting, including worm farming and custom-blended organic fertilizers
Orchard/fruit tree care

Other topics students will be exposed to include:
Medicinal & Culinary Herbs
Seed Saving
Dry Farming
Animal Husbandry (goats & chickens)
Public Events, Workshops and Field Trips

Class Size: Enrollment is limited; please apply early.

Costs: $500 tuition, plus $75 non-refundable registration fee. Tuition may be paid in installments, with $175 due on first day of class, $175 due on October 3, and $150 due on October 30. Enrollment is secured after online application and upon payment of registration fee, which provides you the required textbooks, tools and materials.

School Credit Option: You may apply to have tuition fees waived by being a registered student at a local community college or university and be signed up for your school's service learning, internship, or work-study program for credit (verification required). The $75 Registration may not be waived.

Scholarships and work exchange credit: Limited scholarships and work-exchange opportunities may be available to help defray tuition costs, and require a separate application once you've been accepted into the program. The $75 Registration fee is still required.

Class Schedule: Class meets every Thursday, except Thanksgiving. First class is Thursday, September 5, 9am to 4pm. Last day of classes is Thursday, November 28. No class on Thursday, November 21 (Thanksgiving).

Curriculum: we have an established curriculum that includes required reading and discussion during class time.

To fulfill the requirements of the program you must:
1) Attend Thursday classes and field labs, 9am to 4pm.

2) Attend at least one 4-hour farm practicum each week, where you'll get hands-on farming experience and practice what you've been learning. Days to accomplish this are Monday–Wednesday, 9am to 1pm, or Saturdays, 10am to 2pm.

3) Attend one Saturday Volunteer Day per month, 10am to 4pm.

4) Attend at least one event, either one of our community potlucks or another scheduled farm event (dates TBD).

We are a non-residency program. We do not have living quarters at the farm. Students must provide for their own housing and transportation.

Location: 2550 Sunset Avenue, San Diego 92154, 20-minutes from downtown San Diego near Imperial Beach.

Instructional Staff
Lisa Ordóñez is Wild Willow Farm's Education Director and manages the farm school program.

Paul Maschka (lead instructor) grew up in farming country near Escondido and is one of our area's most experienced and skillful instructors in sustainable agriculture. He was instrumental in creating and developing the Seeds@City Urban Farm, a unique agricultural gem on the campus of San Diego City College in the heart of downtown San Diego, where he served as adjunct professor in sustainable urban agriculture from 2007 to 2012. Prior to that he was employed as a landscaper at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park and was responsible for implementation of composting and natural plant and pest management practices for those parks' world-class botanical collections. Paul's rich experience in sustainable farming and homesteading affords our students a well-rounded opportunity to learn all aspects of food production.

Renae Santa Cruz is a graduate of the WWF farmer training program and our head farmer. She leads the practicum lessons in the fields.

Additional staff Students will also be given opportunities to work with our organizational management staff and learn how our small non-profit does our educational work in the community.

Additional Benefits
Samples of veggies or other products from the farm.
Free or discounted attendance at WWF workshops (students will assist workshop coordinator).
Access to the WWF library.
Discounts on books, eggs, and tea.
Upon successful completion of program, students will receive a Certification of Accomplishment.

To go to the application, click here:

Questions: please contact Lisa Ordóñez at [masked]

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  • Mary

    So....there's no phone number anywhere on the website! Really? Email only? I submitted my application for the class, but I have questions and would really like to speak with someone before I make the trek down to the border. My phone number is on the application and I sent an email to Lisa. Please advise. Thank you.

    September 4, 2013

    • Alex K.

      I would send email to: [masked]

      1 · September 4, 2013

    • Mary

      Thank you. I did speak with WWF by the time I read your reply. :)

      September 7, 2013

  • Carey K.

    Argh I wish I could go to this!!!! Anyone in north SD county inland/ I-15 corridor want to carpool??? I can meet at the 15/76 or thereabouts.

    August 22, 2013

    • Mary

      I just posted about carpooling to this course. Please check out my comment.

      August 25, 2013

    • Carey K.

      Darn, no that would be another 30 miles out of my way. I am hoping they can offer it in North County sometime soon.

      August 25, 2013

  • Mary

    I'm thinking about taking this course and I too, am in No Cty and looking to carpool. I'm in Carlsbad, so the 5 or the 78 would work well as a meeting point. Any takers?

    August 25, 2013

  • Christina F

    I'd love to attend a future session of this course if it was offered on the weekends...

    August 20, 2013

  • RaeLynn M.

    Does anyone know of a course like this in North county? I have recently purchased here and would love this course, but the drive for this one is too far. Thanks raelynn

    August 20, 2013

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