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SMARTS Farm gives nearby apartment-dwellers an opportunity to grow their own produce

Who wants kale?

January in San Diego means plenty of kale, both lacinato (left) and curly (right).
January in San Diego means plenty of kale, both lacinato (left) and curly (right).

Green, leafy vegetables will be plentiful in January, and leading the way is California’s ubiquitous winter mainstay: kale. Many organic farmers’ market stands offer great-looking bunches, including both the familiar curly variety and the dark green, bumpy-looking lacinato kale. All of these stands will also feature both red and green romaine lettuce, and at least one variety of chard.

Another less-well-known green cropping up is dandelion greens. The bitter leaf has many nutritional benefits and is valued in herbal medicine. It turns up in salad mixes, though it’s said to taste better if you blanch it first. It also works well in stews and soups and will be available from JR Organics and Adam Maciel Farm.

It’s also a great time for cruciferous vegetables, and Maciel will carry both broccoli and kohlrabi. The Maciels leave the leaves attached when they harvest their broccoli. These can be used much the same way as dandelion greens or sautéed like spinach or collard greens. Speaking of, look for spinach at JR Organics and collard greens at Maciel booths. Suzie’s Farm keeps the cruciferous going with cauliflower and bok choy (aka pak choi). Cauliflower includes the orange looking cheddar variety, as well as romanesco, with its telltale green fractals.

Winter also renews the avocado cycle, bringing another long season of Hass avocados and a much shorter window for Fuertes. Fallbrook’s Gerwig Avocado Ranch will be one of several farms that should carry the nutty, thin-skinned Fuerte variety. These ripen differently than Hass, so wait until they feel really soft under the skin before cutting into them.

Like Gerwig, most of San Diego’s 6000-plus farmers operate in northern and eastern parts of the county. However, a number of urban farmers give it a go closer to downtown, and some do so on a small scale in community plots, such as the ones for lease at SMARTS Farm in the East Village.

Place

SMARTS Farm

1326 Broadway, San Diego

SMARTS has been offering plots in its system of raised planter beds since 2012, giving nearby apartment-dwellers an opportunity to grow their own produce. Highly rated local steakhouse Cowboy Star (at Tenth and G) keeps a plot there to support its menu.

These efforts got a boost in November, when SMARTS moved to a new, 16,000-square-foot location (1326 Broadway), more than double the size of its original F Street home. In addition to more planting space, the nonprofit urban garden and learning center aims to expand its educational programs that have already engaged 3000 children with classes on gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

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January in San Diego means plenty of kale, both lacinato (left) and curly (right).
January in San Diego means plenty of kale, both lacinato (left) and curly (right).

Green, leafy vegetables will be plentiful in January, and leading the way is California’s ubiquitous winter mainstay: kale. Many organic farmers’ market stands offer great-looking bunches, including both the familiar curly variety and the dark green, bumpy-looking lacinato kale. All of these stands will also feature both red and green romaine lettuce, and at least one variety of chard.

Another less-well-known green cropping up is dandelion greens. The bitter leaf has many nutritional benefits and is valued in herbal medicine. It turns up in salad mixes, though it’s said to taste better if you blanch it first. It also works well in stews and soups and will be available from JR Organics and Adam Maciel Farm.

It’s also a great time for cruciferous vegetables, and Maciel will carry both broccoli and kohlrabi. The Maciels leave the leaves attached when they harvest their broccoli. These can be used much the same way as dandelion greens or sautéed like spinach or collard greens. Speaking of, look for spinach at JR Organics and collard greens at Maciel booths. Suzie’s Farm keeps the cruciferous going with cauliflower and bok choy (aka pak choi). Cauliflower includes the orange looking cheddar variety, as well as romanesco, with its telltale green fractals.

Winter also renews the avocado cycle, bringing another long season of Hass avocados and a much shorter window for Fuertes. Fallbrook’s Gerwig Avocado Ranch will be one of several farms that should carry the nutty, thin-skinned Fuerte variety. These ripen differently than Hass, so wait until they feel really soft under the skin before cutting into them.

Like Gerwig, most of San Diego’s 6000-plus farmers operate in northern and eastern parts of the county. However, a number of urban farmers give it a go closer to downtown, and some do so on a small scale in community plots, such as the ones for lease at SMARTS Farm in the East Village.

Place

SMARTS Farm

1326 Broadway, San Diego

SMARTS has been offering plots in its system of raised planter beds since 2012, giving nearby apartment-dwellers an opportunity to grow their own produce. Highly rated local steakhouse Cowboy Star (at Tenth and G) keeps a plot there to support its menu.

These efforts got a boost in November, when SMARTS moved to a new, 16,000-square-foot location (1326 Broadway), more than double the size of its original F Street home. In addition to more planting space, the nonprofit urban garden and learning center aims to expand its educational programs that have already engaged 3000 children with classes on gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

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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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