What’s ‘growing on’ at City College

By Joan Wojcik

Many things have been growing at San Diego City College (SDCC); such as its student population, curriculum programs, the beautiful expansion of the campus and even fruits and vegetables.

Students sell produce at their farmers market. (Courtesy SDCC)

That’s right, SDCC is growing fruits and vegetables; or more specifically the students, who hope to be farmers, are learning to grow produce.

The fairly new and unique program began at the urban college in 2008, when farming was introduced to students. It started as a small community garden but has expanded to an extensive agriculture program that offers three certificates and an associates of science in sustainable urban agriculture.

A student holds a bushel of beets at SDCC’s “Seeds @ City” on campus
agricultural farm. (Courtesy SDCC)

The agricultural industry in California ranks as one of the top five businesses in our state.

With the average age of today’s farmer at 60, there is a great need for educational institutions to cultivate a new crop of farmers to produce the future foods for our growing nation.

SDCC will soon be offering a new associates of science degree — agricultural plant science — to keep these agriculture students competitive in the labor force.

This new degree will be transferable to CSU schools; such as Stanislaus and Chico, and most course credits will also be transferable to UC schools.

Erin McConnell, a young and energetic associate professor, oversees the agricultural program at City College. She is the instructor for a majority of the agriculture classes and supervises the on-site farming at the 1-acre on-campus farm, which includes a greenhouse.

Under her tutorage, McConnell’s students learn which vegetables and fruit trees to plant year round. McConnell said that if you can name it we probably grow it — broccoli, peas, celery, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, figs, plums, apricots, apples and the list goes on and on.

As part of the uniqueness of the course work offered to these future farmers of America, over half of their class time is spent outside on the farm applying the theories learned in the classroom.

Associate Professor Erin McConnell is the agriculture program manager at City College. (Courtesy SDCC)

You may ask what happens to the produce these student farmers produce? Well, that’s where you come into the picture.

The farm operates a small Community Supportive Agriculture (CSA) where Downtown residents can buy a share of the future produce. Each share costs $80, and it will purchase a large weekly bag of organically grown vegetables and fruits for four weeks.

If you are interested in purchasing a share of naturally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, contact McConnell at or 619-388-4411. McConnell can also be found in the Science Building in Room S311C.

After experiencing eating freshly grown, all organic vegetables and fruits, you may want to start your own urban garden or take some farming classes at SDCC.

Good things are growing at San Diego City College!

Registration for fall just started. Learn more at

— Joan Wojcik is the president of the East Village Residents Group. Learn more about the EVRG at or contact Joan at  

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