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26 BIG Ideas

The city's leaders in health, science, politics, food, and culture share their game-changing ideas for San Diego in 2016.


(page 16 of 26)

Let’s put a farm in every community.

Daron Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development, The Leichtag Foundation

When Joffe dropped out of the University of Wisconsin–Madison to buy a 175-acre farm, he got another education altogether. While he was successful in turning the land into a community-supported farm, he was living and working two hours from the nearest place where he could sell the produce and have a social life. That’s when Joffe, also known as “Farmer D,” quit and began consulting on community farms and agrihoods—housing developments built around crops instead of a golf course or pool. Joffe believes agriculture shouldn’t have to compete with urban sprawl. “There is still time to shift the paradigm to a symbiotic relationship where the land, people, and business all win,” he says. “Growing food closer to where people live helps to reduce its carbon footprint and increase freshness and nutrition, while connecting people to where their food comes from.” A community farm, he reminds us, can take root anywhere—rooftops, prisons, schools, corporate campuses, military bases, and hospitals. It provides education, a social platform, and more. In 2012, the Leichtag Foundation purchased the Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, a 67.5-acre, independently run, nonprofit community farm. About a dozen farmers live on site. “We’re creating a community farm in a really large neighborhood—the City of Encinitas—to engage community in the same way you would if you were designing an agrihood. It’s a somewhat reverse approach. We’re kind of retrofitting and preserving the presence of farmland in the area.”

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