Wild Willow Farm & Education Center
Wild Willow Farm & Education Center is a six-acre working farm located in the southwest corner of the United States, less than three miles from the Pacific Ocean and two-thirds mile north of the Mexican Border. The farm is nestled along the banks of the scenic Tijuana River, and borders the river's stunningly beautiful estuary nature preserve. We're a 15-minute drive from downtown San Diego, with easy and quick access from most of urban south San Diego County.
Having opened our fields on the Summer Solstice of 2010, Wild Willow Farm is now in its fourth year of developing a farm and growing food while educating local citizenry about sustainable farming, permaculture and how to live sustainably in our region. The farm continues to evolve rapidly both on and off the ground.
Farming 101: Introduction to Farming
Revised format: now quicker, more affordable, and more accessible.
CLASSES at University of San Diego (Linda Vista), Wednesday, 7:00pm-9:00pm
FIELD LABS at Wild Willow Farm, Saturday, 9:00am-4:00pm
Cost: $400 + $25 registration fee (includes required textbook)
Wild Willow Farm's Farming 101: Introduction to 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.
2015 Farming 101 Course Dates
WINTER: Jan 31 to Mar 7 SESSION IS FULL
SPRING: Mar 28 to May 2
SUMMER: July 8 to Aug 8
SUMMER-FALL: Aug 22 to Sep 26
FALL: Oct 3 to Nov 7
The course consists of lectures and field labs where students learn what it takes to begin and operate a small organic farm business. This course is a prerequisite to becoming a Tier 1 Farming Student.
Farming 101 Class Schedule
Saturday, January 31 9am-noon (includes farm lunch)
Topic: Welcome, History of WWF, Farm Tour, Staff & Student Introductions; Introductory lecture: In the Spirit of Organics.
Film: Symphony of the Soil after lunch (optional).
Wednesday Class: It Starts with the Soil
Saturday Lab: Making & using compost, mulching, sheet composting, cover cropping.
Wednesday Class: Growing Fertile Soil
Saturday Lab: Farm tools -- proper use and care; Evaluating soil texture and moisture; Bed preparation; Mechanical and manual tillage; Compost tea and extract.
Wednesday Class: Seasonal Planting Techniques
Saturday Lab: Direct Sowing and Transplanting; Starting seeds; Planting practice.
Wednesday Class: How Water Moves through the Soil
Saturday Lab: Irrigation practice and watering your farm under the southern sun.
Wednesday Class: Pests, Pathogens & Attracting Beneficial Insects
Saturday Lab: Identifying pests, pathogens and beneficials, harvesting practice, cooking and Potluck!
Ongoing Farm School Programs
Continue your farming education in our year-round School for Sustainable Farming program, with weekly classes, hands-on mentoring and additional enrollment benefits.
Now enrolling for Full and Half Shares
Pickups in Imperial Beach, Chula Vista,
Mission Hills and Talmadge
You are invited to become a Wild Willow Farm Shareholder -- our version of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Each weekly or bi-weekly Share includes a seasonal selection of farm-fresh vegetables with occasional fruits, cut flowers, and herbs -- the equivalent of about one grocery bag full of just-harvested produce. Contents of your Share will vary based on seasons and production cycles, but we aim for consistent volume.
every week for 12 weeks = $240
every other week for 12 weeks = $120
Both Full and Half Shares are $20/each/week, and are the same size. You may join any time shares are available.
New Drop sites sought!
You can apply to become a FarmShare drop site with five or more weekly subscriptions (locations south of Interstate 8 and west of Interstate 15 preferred). To find out more, contact Dorothea at
Open Volunteering at Wild Willow Farm
every Saturday, 11am to 4pm (rain cancels)
No experience necessary. No reservations required.
Volunteer for all or a portion of the hours listed.
Come to the farm and participate in your food system as we grow Wild Willow Farm. Often the best way to learn is by doing, and you'll get a taste of the myriad things a farmer does while preparing and growing San Diego seasonal plantings of vegetables, greens, medicinal and culinary herbs and cover crops.
On-farm chores vary widely week to week and depend entirely on what's happening at the farm that day. Usual activities include composting (hands-on learning every week), watering, bed prep, weeding, mulching, animal care, planting and tending a huge range of plants and more.
No reservations are required. We've got the gloves, tools and tasks, just come prepared for sunshine and dirt (sun hat, appropriate clothing, sturdy closed-toe shoes) and please bring a lunch. We have plenty of drinking water, but having your own water bottle makes it easier for you.
Children: You may bring kids of any age you feel suitable to be around a farm, including contact with dirt, bugs, thistles and burrs, farm animals, tools, and nature. Rest assured we do not use any harmful chemicals on the soil or food we grow. Children must remain under your direct supervision or awareness at all times; we'll do our best to find appropriate activities for your family. Please no unacompanied children unless by prior arrangement, such as for school service hours. Wild Willow Farm does not offer childcare services and the farm is not a playground.
We welcome people of all ages and abilities, but please leave your pets at home.
Volunteering, Yoga, Native Plant Tour, Farm Tour,
Potluck, Live Music, Wood-fired Pizza, Bonfire and more.
at Wild Willow Farm
click here for a map (we recommend you use our map)
(donations in support of our programs are appreciated)
Check out photos from May's potluck,
taken by our friend Gregory Berg!
Schedule for the Day
11am to 4pm: Volunteer on the farm
Learn while doing.
4pm: Led by Niina Lobbestael in the Gerson Orchard (donations requested; meet in the barn).
4 to 7pm: Native plants, veggie starts and succulents for your garden
(by donation to support our educational programs)
5pm: Farm Tour
Led by Wild Willow staff and students. See what we do, and learn why and how we do it.
Know your farmer, know your farm, know your food.
5pm: Native Plant Wildlife Tour
Interpretive walk through the beautiful the TJ River Park to learn about native habitat and wildlife
led by experts Lisa Ordóñez or Lindsay Willrick.
6:00pm POTLUCK and live music by Coral Bells
with farm-made, organic sourdough wood-fired pizza (donations requested).
Please bring something yummy to share!
Dusk -- BRING DRUMS
Our farm is all about community, so what better way to say that than by hosting a monthly community gathering? On third Saturdays each month from March through November, we host volunteer opportunities, tours, a grand potluck meal, and bonfire.
Something yummy to share (extra points for something homemade using organic, locally grown ingredients). Please label your dish and ingredients (share your recipes!).
Your own plate, cup and eating utensils help us keep this a zero-waste event.
Please pack out your recylables and trash.
Jacket and warm clothing. It gets surprisingly cold here at night.
We welcome everyone, but please leave your pets at home.
Children: You may bring kids of any age you feel suitable to be around a farm, including contact with dirt, bugs, thistles and burrs, farm animals, tools, and nature. Children must remain under your direct supervision or awareness at all times. Please no unacompanied children. Wild Willow Farm does not offer childcare services and the farm is not a playground.
About our potlucks: volunteering, free mini-workshops, farm tour, potluck, bonfire, drumming. Farming is all about food. And food is best when shared with community. At our potlucks Wild Willow gives thanks to our amazing community of students, volunteers, educators, fans and eaters of every stripe. Familiar faces and new smiles are always welcome to these joyous gatherings that include educational workshops, volunteer activities, farm tour, potluck dinner, and drum circle around our cob firepit. See photos from our May 2014 potluck taken by Gregory Berg.
NEXT SCHEDULED POTLUCK: March 21, 2015 (weather permitting)
Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-op has provided an ongoing grant of $1000/month in support of our educational field trips to the farm for local school kids since May of 2011. People's Co-op has also made many other donations and provided strong support for our efforts and common goals over the years.
Local Race/Run producer Sandy Feet Events raised $1100 for the farm at the 2014 Wild Willow Farm 5K & Chili Brewfest. Sandy Feet also raises funds for us at the annual Resolution Run held each January in Mission Bay.. Since 2011 Sandy Feet Events has raised over $7800 for Wild Willow Farm!
Musician Jack Johnson and the Johnson Ohana Foundation gave $3000 and promotional support during his local appearance in September 2014. Jack has been a strong supporter of our work and since 2008 has donated $14000 for both Victory Gardens San Diego and Wild Willow Farm.
Jimbo's Naturally contributed $1,180 in 2013 via their "It's in the Bag" program, representing 23,602 votes for our work, and saving 30,434 recycled bags. Since 2010, Jimbo's bag program has raised nearly $4000 for the farm.
Cox Communication and The Trust for Public Land awarded $10,000 to Wild Willow Farm in recognition of SD Roots founder and director, Mel Lions, as winner of the Cox Conserves 2014 Volunteer Hero of the Year for San Diego County.
The Gerson Institute donated $2000 in support of Wild Willow Farm in October 2014. Since 2009 these remarkable people, who teach how to use healthy food to sustain our bodies, have donated over $6000 in support of both Victory Gardens San Diego and Wild Willow Farm.
Patagonia Provisions donated $2500 in October 2014 to support our educational programs for agicultural sustainability.
Alexandria Real Estate donated $1250 following a group teambuilding afternoon at Wild Willow Farm.
Starlite donated $662 in proceeds during their Seventh Anniversary Celebration Week.
True Food Kitchen donated $500 as part of their True Foods Challenge.
County of San Diego Neighborhood Reinvestment Program awarded $3000 in 2014 to promote Wild Willow School for Sustainable Farming
County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program awarded $15,000 in 2013 to install fencing and upgrade our irrigation system..
2013 SDG&E Environmental Champion Grant: $5000 for program improvements.
Kashi REAL Project: Donated $15,000 which has been used for infrastructure improvements around the farm. Since 2011, Kashi REAL and Kashi employees have donated over $28,000 to support our work at Wild Willow Farm & Education Center.
Horizon Foundation: in 2013 awarded a grant of $5000 to support our farm school and install a volunteer coordinator.