Master Gardeners Educate and Service San Diego Communities

by Nathan Yick, Slow Food SDSU Chapter Leader

master gardener community gardenSan Diego has over 300* Master Gardeners, passionate gardeners who serve and educate San Diegans on pest control and horticulture for free. Part of a rigorous training program founded in 1980, by the University of California Cooperative Extension, they work alongside teachers and parents helping children with their garden projects. They help community gardens overcome challenges with their plots, and with the drought plaguing California, their services and knowledge are much needed in the gardens.

To help San Diego communities combat the drought, the Master Gardeners have developed their Earth Friendly Gardening program. This program trains gardeners in sustainable gardening addressing things like how to adapt to the drought by providing information on creating an earth friendly garden–information on how to conserve water, maintain soil quality, and reduce waste. Thanks to the Master Gardeners, Community Gardens all over San Diego, like the Agape House by San Diego State University, have thrived and continue to provide fresh and local produce for the community.

“One of my favorite things about being a Master Gardener is helping people with their gardening challenges,” says Dominick Fiume who became a Master Gardener through working at the Ark of Taste Heritage Garden in Old Town State Park.

As fulfilling and rewarding experience it is being a Master Gardener, becoming one takes a lot of work. To become certified, students go through a training program consisting of 16 weekly classes taught by agricultural experts which educate aspiring volunteers on pest management and horticulture. They must pass an exam and then volunteer regularly as well as continue their education to keep their certification.

Through their commitment, knowledge and passion for public service in gardening and pest control, the Master Gardeners have helped San Diego communities preserve and create more sustainable gardens.

SFUSD is excited that this passionate and knowledgeable San Diego resource is participating in our 2015 Good Food Community Fair. Look for their booth on wise water use.

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*the original story in the Sept newsletter reported there were over 60 Master Gardeners in San Diego. San Diego has over 300.



September Annual Membership Campaign

We invite you to join an international community committed to good, clean & fair food for all. 

Why become a member?

To CONNECT with other people who care about the same kinds of things you care about.
You receive discounts and special invitations to local, national and international events, including Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto.

To LEARN more about good, clean and fair food and the slow food movement.
You receive an exclusive print magazine that showcases what is happening in the Slow Food movement locally, nationally and internationally.
You have access to special members-only offers and previews.

To ENGAGE in helping to make a more good, clean and fair food system.
You receive opportunities to get involved in national campaigns and local activities and projects.

To SUPPORT an organization that shares your values and is working to make the kind of change in the world you want to see.
Your membership card proclaims your commitment to Slow Food values. You ARE the Slow Food Movement!

By becoming a member of Slow Food USA, you not only help support Slow Food Urban San Diego (SFUSD) projects in San Diego, and Slow Food projects across the world, you can you enjoy discounts and special offers from our Member Benefit Partners.

Photo credit: L. Joy

School garden harvest. Photo by: L. Joy

Locally, our school garden programs introduce youth to urban gardens and farms to help educate them on healthy eating practices and where our food comes from. We help local farmers and fishermen strengthen their knowledge, skills and connections to Slow Food practices by sponsoring their participation in important national and international programs and conferences, such as the Slow Food School Garden Program, and Terra Madre. We help schools connect their lunch programs to local farms.

Farm-to-table cooking classes. Photo by: L. Joy

Farm-to-table cooking classes. Photo by: L. Joy

Our annual Good Food Community Fair connects our community to organizations who advocate for positive food policies, as well as local farmers, artisans and chefs who support Slow Food principles. Our Ark of Taste projects identify, promote and protect heritage foods in danger of extinction. And, through programs like Slow Sips, we offer film screenings, guest lectures, and other community gatherings that educate and celebrate the bounty of food! These are just a few of the projects and programs you are supporting through your membership. Join us today!

Ark of Taste apples. Photo by A. Dominguez.

Ark of Taste apples. Photo by A. Dominguez.

Why We Need You

  1. Your membership dues provide a stable, sustainable source of revenue for the organization, allowing it to be powered by – and accountable to – everyday people.
  2. Members are a source of political capital. Our growing membership demonstrates to decision makers the huge number of people who support Slow Food values.
  3. Members are the lifeblood of the Slow Food Movement. You provide on-the-ground action, whether through a commitment to living Slow Food values or your participation in local projects and activities such as those described above.

Senior class on cooking farmers market produce. SFUSD programs provided “market bucks” to seniors, which they could use at farmers markets.

Our mission as an international grassroots membership organization is good, clean and fair food for all.

Our food should be tasty, seasonal, local, fresh and wholesome.

Our food should nourish a healthful lifestyle and be produced in ways that preserve biodiversity, sustain the environment and ensure animal welfare – without harming human health.

Our food should be affordable by all, while respecting the dignity of labor from field to fork.

For All
Good, clean and fair food should be accessible to all and celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions and nations that reside in the USA.


SFUSD volunteers help transform city lots into urban farms. Photo by S. Shoffler

About Us
Food is the cornerstone of culture and community, and directly relates to the future of our planet. A better, cleaner and fairer world begins with what we put on our plates – and our daily choices determine the future of the environment, economy and society. If you care about local farmers, ranchers, fishers, animal welfare, the joy of a shared meal, preserving food culture, protecting the environment or avoiding GMOs, we have a place for you at our table.

Who We Are
Slow Food Urban San Diego is part of Slow Food USA and the global Slow Food network of over 100,000 members in more than 150 countries. Through a vast volunteer network of local chapters, youth and food communities, we link the pleasures of the table with a commitment to protect the community, culture, knowledge and environment that make this pleasure possible.

SFUSD Slow Sips featuring Slow Meat experts. Photo by S. Shoffler

SFUSD Slow Sips featuring Slow Meat experts. Photo by S. Shoffler

What We Do
Slow Food USA has over 12,000 members nationwide from over 200 local chapters and 40 campus chapters that coordinate local activities, projects and events. Working together with members and supporters across the nation, we:

We preserve and share local foods and food cultures. We defend and advocate     policies that promote holistic alternatives to the industrial system. Through tastings, workshops and social opportunities, we explore and celebrate the Slow life.

We develop leaders in communities who model joy and justice. We champion local, culturally significant heritage foods, customs and recipes – and bring these experiences into farms, markets, restaurants and homes. We teach the next generation how to grow, prepare and share food responsibly.

Conviviality is central to our mission. We are a global community, connecting people to the land and to each other through local projects, educational events, and shared meals. We become catalysts for change by sharing the joy of Slow Food and prioritizing wholesome living over convenience.

Community and conviviality at our Slow Sips events. Photo by S. Shoffler

Community and conviviality at our Slow Sips events. Photo by S. Shoffler

For more information on becoming a member click here!


New Member Benefit Parter Brings Local Seafood to Locals

Friendly THDM fishermen. Photo credit: S. Shoffler

Friendly THDM fishermen. Photo credit: S. Shoffler

One year ago, the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market opened near San Diego’s Seaport Village offering local seafood caught by local fishermen. This area used to be a busy seafood dock during the heyday of our fair city’s tuna fishery. In recent years, gift and ice-cream-type shops have dotted our Downtown waterfront. But since last year, every Saturday morning, THDM has brought the fishing culture back to our community. THDM is an open-air seafood market. They sell local seafood caught by San Diego fishermen. The only non-local products are those that San Diego fishermen catch off other parts of California, because that’s where the fish are swimming.

Here fishy fishy!

Here fishy fishy!

Most of the seafood they sell has never been frozen and may have been caught just the night before. The fishermen sell their harvest themselves. Like Farmers Markets, THDM offers San Diego the opportunity to get closer to our food sources. They plan to sell aquafarmed seaweed direct from local aquafarmers in the future.
Red Sea Urchin

Red sea urchiin, caught by fisherman Pete!

“The key to fishing sustainably, is fishing a variety of species,” says Pete Halmay, sea urchin fishermen and THDM Board of Directors. Likewise, broadening our palates is important. Most Americans eat just a few types of seafood – shrimp, tuna, salmon. But eating seafood that is local and in season lowers our carbon footprint and supports local economies. It also means we aren’t putting so much pressure on any one population.

Because the fishermen and aquafarmers sell the seafood themselves, you can chat them up. By the way, these folks love to talk. Must be something about long days and nights at sea. Ask them about what they are selling. How did they catch or harvest it? What’s their favorite way to cook it?

Fish cutting station at THDM. Photo credit: S. Shoffler

Fish cutting station at THDM. Photo credit: S. Shoffler

And for those who don’t care to clean or filet their own fish, THDM has a free cleaning station. Please tip these guys.

SFUSD members get a 10% discount at most vendors at the THDM. To learn more, visit: