Runners, beer drinkers, local food advocates and families traversed their way down to the southern most region of San Diego last weekend to participate in the first annual Wild Willow Farm 5k Race and Chili Brew Fest. With the harvest season well upon us, the event was a celebration of sorts, featuring a chili cook-off and homebrew competition, plus a 5K trail run/walk. Live music from the Big Decisions, self-guided farm tours and a variety of homebrews and chili concoctions made for an incredible day of fun, community building, and success.
Volunteers ushered runners across the finish line into the “beer garden” to enjoy fresh brews from local sponsors like Stone, Alesmith, and Coronado Brewing Company. The line up of judges for the homebrew competition included major San Diego brewers like Greg Koch from Stone Brewing, Peter Zien from Alesmith Brewing, and Laurie Delk from 100 Beers in 30 Days. At least 38 different brews were accounted for, but only one took grand prize- a robust, malty, Imperial Red Ale bursting with flavorful, bright hops.
The donated beer was another welcome accompaniment to the 8 different chilies entered into the contest. The overall winner, named “Beegee’s Southwest Chili” won by just 1 point over other entries. Judges for the chili cook-off included Chef Nick Brune from Local Habit, Wild Willow board member Angie Vorhies, and local food and beer advocate Marty Frank.
Nearly 300 people attended the event, out of which 200 participated in the actual race. Tickets were sold for admission to the race and individual beer and chili tastings, and over $2,000 was raised to benefit operations and educational programs at Wild Willow Farm. They intend to purchase or retrofit a truck in order to deliver produce to their CSA customers and to the select restaurants that support the farm. With such a wide variety of programs offered onsite and in the local community, Wild Willow Farm is quickly becoming a central facility for the education of a new generation of farmers and the conservation of organic and sustainable food systems in San Diego.