San Diego Farm Stands
Where to Buy Fresh Organic Produce in San Diego
If you're looking for farm-fresh produce in San Diego, why not make a trip to a farm stand? While many farmers have been driven far east of the city due to growth and high land prices, some convenient farm stand options still remain. Most offer organically grown produce or are up-front about which crops are sprayed and which are grown organically. Here are some options:
Chino Farms Fruit and Vegetables
The Vegetable Shop at Chino Farms
Chino Farms, The Vegetable Shop hours are Tues-Sat 10-3:30 and Sun 10-1, but call for seasonal hours at: (858) 756-3184.
The Vegetable Shop at Chino Farms
One of the best family farms in San Diego County, The Vegetable Shop at Chino Farms is located about 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego and worth the drive. It's open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-3:30, and Sunday from 10-1, but call for current operating hours, which may change seasonally, at (858) 756-3184.
Best time to go is Sunday morning, when traffic on the 5 freeway is sparse and calm. Head north on the 5 if you're coming from downtown, and take the Via de la Valle exit heading east. Go past the horse park, past the polo field and expensive homes. You'll see the farm just before you get to Calzada del Bosque - tomato vines stand tall along with other seasonal crops like French green beans and healthy looking eggplants. Turn right onto Calzada del Bosque and follow the fields to the farm stand, located on your right. On a recent Sunday, the stand was abundant with several varieties of peppers, French melons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, yellow raspberries, huge tomatoes, sweet white corn, organically grown strawberries, multiple bean varieties, even more varieties of lettuce and still more stunningly beautiful, picked fresh that morning vegetables. The hard part is figuring out what to buy. My bounty of baby Romaine, frisee lettuce, green leaf lettuce, ridiculously fresh radicchio, French green beans, broccoli, a six-pack of sweet white corn,baby eggplant, a pint of strawberries, and a Charentais melon cost me $37. The carrots were also tempting but topless, so I had to pass. I asked if they had any carrot tops handy - my bunny likes the tops - but they said that sometimes when they harvest, they remove the tops and that day happened to be a topless carrot day.
Chino Farms is a farm with history, owned since the 1940's by the Chino Family, and now run by second generation family members. Chefs from Wolfgang Puck's Los Angeles Spago restaurant, Berkeley's Chez Panisse, and San Diego's George's at the Cove are known to use Chino Farms produce on their menus. It's that perfect quality produce that brings customers back time and again to The Vegetable Shop.
San Diego Farm Stand Resources
Seeds@City Urban Farm Stand
Seeds@City is an urban farm and part of the Sustainable Urban Agriculture program at San Diego City College. The farm stand is located at the downtown college at 14th and C Streets, in Curran Plaza, upstairs from the farm and near the Saville Theater. It's open during the school year on Thursdays from 9am - 11am. Parking around the college can be difficult, but if you're in the neighborhood, are a downtown worker, or are on the trolley line, Seeds@City's farm stand offers a unique opportunity to support college students who are learning about sustainable farming. If you're taking the trolley, just get off at the City College trolley stop, located at 12th and C Street. It's a short walk to the college down C Street.
The farm stand is known for its reasonable prices and fresh and bountiful organically grown herbs and produce. A recent week had leafy basil, dandelion greens, radishes, lettuce, and carrots with fresh full tops. Go early for the best selection, or, if you want to be a part of their community supported agricultural (CSA) program, sign up for shares of seasonal fruits and vegetables for the bargain price of $20 per weekly share.
Map of Suzie's Farm
USDA Certified Organic produce from Suzy's Farm. The farm stand is open Saturdays from 10-2pm
Organic Produce at Suzie's Farm
Local San Diegans know of the USDA certified organic produce from Suzie's Farm through their farmer's market presence - you can find them at farmer's markets at Little Italy, Pacific Beach, North Park and others. Or, you can go to their farm stand, located at 1755 Saturn Boulevard and open Saturdays from 10-2.
The farm stand is an easy drive on Saturday, about 15 minutes from downtown San Diego. It is located near the Tijuana Open Space Preserve, an estuary. Take the 5 freeway, heading south, to the Coronado Avenue exit and merge onto Hollister. It's an urban drive, past lots of dull industry along the freeway and lots of houses along Hollister. Take a right onto Leon Avenue, just after you pass the high school, and travel less than a mile to Saturn. Take a left onto Saturn and all of a sudden, boom, you're facing acres of farm land. The farm stand is to your left and is surprisingly easy to miss when you're absorbed by so much farm land that you never knew existed until the first time you visit.
On a recent weekend, it was the carrots that caught my attention. Stubby little orange wonders with big, full tops that I knew my rabbit would love. But pretty much everything was beautiful. The broccoli was firm and appeared to be just cut, and the cilantro was crisp and fragrant. I appreciated that the farm stand worker bee searched out an extra carrot for me when she saw that one of the tops was missing a bottom. When I explained that I was buying the bunch primarily for the tops because I had a house rabbit, she laughed and threw in a few extra tops that had gotten separated from their bottoms.
Suzie's also has a CSA program, with shares available for a reasonable monthly fee and pick-up stations at convenient locations all around San Diego County. You can even pick up your box share at any one of their farmer's market locations, which makes it really easy to do.