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Craft beer and local produce

Maybe the smallest farmers' market in the country?

The small farmers' market stand appearing at Machete Beer House Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.
The small farmers' market stand appearing at Machete Beer House Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.

When Machete Beer House opened two years ago, there weren't many places to get craft beer in National City. There weren't many opportunities to buy organic produce either. On Monday nights, Machete offers both. The bar hosts Market Mondays where, from 7 to 9 p.m., a little farm stand sets up in the corner of the bar for what's likely the smallest farmers' market in the country.

The historic Wallace Dickinson House in National City (1988)

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the greens, herbs, gourds, and root vegetables sold at Machete is that they were grown within a couple thousand feet of the bar, just down the street at Dickinson Farm.

That's the quarter-acre urban farm started by Stepheni Norton and Mike Lesley, who married after meeting while both served in the Coast Guard. In 2012 they bought the Wallace Dickinson house, an historic National City home dating back to 1888.

Raised boxes at Dickinson Farm.

Norton explains that Wallace Dickinson first came to San Diego to pursue trade opportunities. "Not only was he a businessman," she says, "he was also one of the top horticulturists in the area. He did a bunch of testing on what would grow in San Diego well."

Around the time she and Lesley moved into the house, Norton had been struggling with a chronic illness, and struggled to find non-GMO and pesticide-free produce that wouldn't clash with her medication. "I was sick, so we started growing for access to food for me," she recalls.

Rows of produce at Dickinson Farm.

When they learned of Dickinson's history growing plants on the property, they decided to switch to heirloom vegetables, the rule of thumb being, "What would Wallace grow?" Their heirloom varieties date back as far as the 8th Century, including several Ark of Taste plants — basically the endangered species list of the plant kingdom. By growing them to seed, Dickinson Farms contributes to their conservation.

What started as a garden quickly became a small farm, growing anything from peanuts and elderberry to strawberry and watermelon. "We started with four raised boxes," Norton says. "Now we have 16. We also have 20 long beds, four hedge rows of coffee, a small orchard, a little hop area, and we're going to do a little squash house in the spring." They started giving away excess produce, and donated some to a #southbayuprising dinner staged by Machete last year in benefit of another neighborhood farm, Olivewood Gardens.

Afterwards, Dickinson approached Machete owners Eddie Trejo and Joann Cornejo about selling produce, and the bar owners happily agreed. "It's something we think is really cool, giving the community a much better option than fast food," says Trejo. "There are grocery stores, but it's nothing like having something grown in your own neighborhood. There's a certain beauty to that."

And Machete's not their only connection to local beer. When Dickinson hosted a multi-course farm dinner with local chefs in November, Home Brewing Co. owner George Thornton curated beer pairings, including a beer he brewed with hops harvested from the farm. In addition to Market Mondays, the farm will continue to host dinners quarterly, with the next scheduled for February 19, 2017.

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The small farmers' market stand appearing at Machete Beer House Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.
The small farmers' market stand appearing at Machete Beer House Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m.

When Machete Beer House opened two years ago, there weren't many places to get craft beer in National City. There weren't many opportunities to buy organic produce either. On Monday nights, Machete offers both. The bar hosts Market Mondays where, from 7 to 9 p.m., a little farm stand sets up in the corner of the bar for what's likely the smallest farmers' market in the country.

The historic Wallace Dickinson House in National City (1988)

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the greens, herbs, gourds, and root vegetables sold at Machete is that they were grown within a couple thousand feet of the bar, just down the street at Dickinson Farm.

That's the quarter-acre urban farm started by Stepheni Norton and Mike Lesley, who married after meeting while both served in the Coast Guard. In 2012 they bought the Wallace Dickinson house, an historic National City home dating back to 1888.

Raised boxes at Dickinson Farm.

Norton explains that Wallace Dickinson first came to San Diego to pursue trade opportunities. "Not only was he a businessman," she says, "he was also one of the top horticulturists in the area. He did a bunch of testing on what would grow in San Diego well."

Around the time she and Lesley moved into the house, Norton had been struggling with a chronic illness, and struggled to find non-GMO and pesticide-free produce that wouldn't clash with her medication. "I was sick, so we started growing for access to food for me," she recalls.

Rows of produce at Dickinson Farm.

When they learned of Dickinson's history growing plants on the property, they decided to switch to heirloom vegetables, the rule of thumb being, "What would Wallace grow?" Their heirloom varieties date back as far as the 8th Century, including several Ark of Taste plants — basically the endangered species list of the plant kingdom. By growing them to seed, Dickinson Farms contributes to their conservation.

What started as a garden quickly became a small farm, growing anything from peanuts and elderberry to strawberry and watermelon. "We started with four raised boxes," Norton says. "Now we have 16. We also have 20 long beds, four hedge rows of coffee, a small orchard, a little hop area, and we're going to do a little squash house in the spring." They started giving away excess produce, and donated some to a #southbayuprising dinner staged by Machete last year in benefit of another neighborhood farm, Olivewood Gardens.

Afterwards, Dickinson approached Machete owners Eddie Trejo and Joann Cornejo about selling produce, and the bar owners happily agreed. "It's something we think is really cool, giving the community a much better option than fast food," says Trejo. "There are grocery stores, but it's nothing like having something grown in your own neighborhood. There's a certain beauty to that."

And Machete's not their only connection to local beer. When Dickinson hosted a multi-course farm dinner with local chefs in November, Home Brewing Co. owner George Thornton curated beer pairings, including a beer he brewed with hops harvested from the farm. In addition to Market Mondays, the farm will continue to host dinners quarterly, with the next scheduled for February 19, 2017.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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