Refugee students learn job skills at city farm!

Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!
Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!

I was walking around North Park yesterday when I stumbled upon a small farm on a dirt lot north of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. I crossed 30th Street to see what was going on, and noticed a bunch of youth working the soil, and sitting at a table selling vegetables!

It turns out these super friendly new San Diego residents are refugees attending local high schools. As Youth FarmWorks interns they are learning job skills and gaining confidence in their new country. This urban farming project was created by the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees adjust to life in the United States, where they are safe and free from persecution.

I was given a tour of the small farm by a super cool young man–he’s the guy who gave me a thumbs up in that first photo! He showed me the various vegetables they were growing, including different types of lettuce, beets, squash, cherry tomatoes, and much more. My tour was awesome!

Good luck to everyone!

Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works - Job Training Urban Farm.
Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works – Job Training Urban Farm.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Kids at work on the urban farm.
Students at work on the urban farm.
A very cool smile!
A very cool smile!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A walk around the the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse.

Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.
Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.

This morning I drove up to Escondido. One highlight of my day was walking around the historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse, which is located near a popular trailhead of the San Dieguito River Park’s long, not-yet-complete Coast to Crest Trail.

The Sikes Adobe, built around 1870, is a City of San Diego historic site. It contains a museum which is open every Sunday. Also on Sundays, the farmstead is where the North San Diego Certified Farmers Market is held.

As I walked around Sikes Adobe, I happened upon some interpretive signs which explain the history of the farmstead. I took photos if you’re interested. Click those sign images and they will expand for easy reading.

People had very different lives long ago in California. Fresh air, hard work, quiet hours, simple pleasures. And wild, untrod paths. I believe I would have loved that life.

The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The trail past the old farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
The trail past the farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the simple farmhouse.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the rustic farmhouse.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
View of the farmstead from the nearby trail.
View of the farmstead structures from the nearby trail.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California's first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California’s first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
A town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
A small town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead's dirt parking lot.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead’s dirt parking lot.
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.

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Tile mosaics show Hispanic life, culture and history.

Scenes of Hispanic life, culture and history decorate benches and seats at a San Diego Trolley station.
Mosaic scenes of Hispanic life, culture and history decorate benches and seats at a San Diego Trolley station.

In Logan Heights, the 25th and Commercial Street station of the San Diego Trolley’s Orange Line features public art at both it’s east and west platforms. A week or so ago, I enjoyed looking at colorful mosaics made of tiles on the base of various concrete seats and curving benches. The small mosaics depict Hispanic life, culture and history. There are abstract scenes of immigrants working in fields or in construction, of family at home, and of organized activism.

I took these photos at the eastbound platform. The mosaics are part of a project titled Achievement / Progress / Community: In the Spirit of Cesar E. Chavez that was completed in 2006. The mosaics were created by artist John Hiemstra. The trolley stop is dedicated to civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

Photo along length of 25th and Commercial Street trolley station of the Orange Line. This is the eastbound platform.
Photo along length of 25th and Commercial Street trolley station of the Orange Line. This is the eastbound platform.
This small tile mosaic scene features a red trolley in front of downtown's Santa Fe Depot.
A small tile mosaic scene features a red trolley in front of downtown’s Santa Fe Depot.
Hispanic family at home around a table laden with food.
A family at home around a table laden with food.
Migrant workers appear to be planting seeds in a field.
Migrant workers planting seeds in a field.
Mosaic shows a ranch in a Southern California landscape.
Mosaic shows what appears to be a ranch in a Southern California landscape.
Farm worker seems to be harvesting tomatoes or strawberries.
Farm worker is harvesting tomatoes or strawberries.
Saguaro cacti in a Southwestern scene.
Saguaro cacti in a Southwestern scene.
Beautiful abstract mosaic. Tiles of different colors, sizes and shapes.
Beautiful abstract mosaic. Tiles of different colors, sizes and shapes.
Hispanic workers build a wall.
Hispanic workers build a wall.
A laborer hard at work.
A laborer hard at work.
Two figures stand near automobiles on a highway.
Two figures stand near automobiles on a highway.
A diverse group appears to hold up signs in a protest.
A diverse group appears to hold up signs in a protest.
A priest and an activist.
A priest and an activist.
Hispanic youth together, perhaps students. Another scene of life, learning, hope, struggle.
Hispanic youth together, perhaps students. Another scene of life, learning, hope, struggle.

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Holiday fun at the new SMARTS Farm in East Village!

People check out many planters full of vegetables and flowers at the new SMARTS Farm in East Village.
People check out many planters full of vegetables and flowers at the new SMARTS Farm in East Village.

Today I walked to East Village in downtown San Diego to check out a holiday event at SMARTS Farm. I didn’t realize that this cool community garden had recently moved. Their new and improved location is at the corner of 13th Street and Broadway.

At SMARTS Farm, anybody is welcome to become an urban gardener–growing flowers or vegetables in the heart of our sunny city. Downtown residents can relax here, kids can learn about farming, botany and nature, and I believe photography classes are still offered.

If you’re ever downtown, swing on by to see for yourself!

SMARTS Farm in San Diego's East Village is a community garden where hearts can grow and minds thrive.
SMARTS Farm in San Diego’s East Village is a community garden where hearts can grow and minds thrive.
A wreath is hung on the barn inside SMARTS Farm to celebrate the holiday season. They've moved to a new location and are open to everyone in the community!
A wreath is hung on the barn inside SMARTS Farm to celebrate the holiday season. They’ve moved to a new location and are open to everyone in the community!
Someone makes a wreath the week before Christmas during a special SMARTS Farm holiday event.
Someone makes a wreath the week before Christmas during a special SMARTS Farm holiday event.
These guys were rolling out yummy pizzas!
These guys were rolling out yummy pizzas!
Walking around the large colorful garden. Schools and community groups can grow their own plants in an urban environment downtown.
Walking around the large colorful garden. Schools and community groups can grow their own plants in an urban environment downtown.
Lessons about how to plant urban crops were underway in the late morning.
Lessons about how to plant urban crops were underway in the late morning.
A young gardener sows some seeds at SMARTS Farm.
A young gardener sows some seeds at SMARTS Farm.
Hands on farming includes a children's garden and plants grown by nearby school KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy--my neighbor on Cortez Hill.
Hands on farming includes a children’s garden and plants grown by nearby school KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy–my neighbor on Cortez Hill.
A pleasant day can be had tending a garden and learning about gardening in the middle of downtown San Diego!
A pleasant day can be had tending a garden and learning about gardening in the middle of downtown San Diego!
Nature, Water, Air. At SMARTS Farm, every day is Earth Day!
Nature, Water, Air. At SMARTS Farm, every day is Earth Day!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Glean Queens of San Diego need your help!

Got extra fruit. Got time. Help fight hunger and have a load of fun, too!
Got extra fruit? Got time? Help fight hunger and have a load of fun, too!

Do you love to be out in the San Diego sunshine, among friendly people and fragrant fruit trees? Do you hate to see delicious, nutritious fruit just lying there on the ground, beginning to rot? Do you, perhaps, own fruit trees in your backyard and struggle to give the abundant harvest away? Would you like to help some hungry people?

If you’re looking for a fun opportunity to volunteer and make a positive change in the lives of San Diegans, read on! Some fantastic ladies whom I met at EarthFair need your help! They’re the Glean Queens!

These three ladies are making the world a better place. Join them!
These three ladies are making the world a better place. Join them!

The Glean Queens have undertaken a very important project. It’s called CropSwap. The perfectly named CropSwap (part of their organization ProduceGood) solves a huge problem. The problem of tragically wasted food–locally grown fruit, to be exact.

Sunny Southern California is thick with citrus and other fruit trees. Many residents have them on their property. Many of the established trees provide more fruit than a family can possibly use. Why should the excess become useless garbage?

Help save nutritious oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, tangerines...you name it!
Help save valuable, nutritious oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, tangerines…you name it!

According to the USDA, a whopping 40% of crops go to waste. And here’s another shocking statistic: 20% of San Diegans have difficulty getting enough food to eat.

CropSwap coordinates fruit tree owners and volunteer pickers, and arranges the collection of excess fruit that would otherwise be wasted. The fruit is then delivered to San Diego food banks. An excellent (and common sense) idea!

So all you fruit tree owners and future volunteer pickers in and around San Diego! Click here to visit the ProduceGood website and learn how you can personally help, in a very tangible and rewarding way, to fight hunger!

You can easily make a positive difference in San Diego!
You can easily make a positive difference in San Diego!

Spread the word!

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Meet Don and Dulce, Old Town’s donkeys.

I took another walk today…

Walking through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park we see a sign near Seeley Stable Museum. Let's go see the donkeys!
Walking through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park we see a sign beside Seeley Stable Museum. Let’s go see the donkeys!
Is this one of the donkeys. Nope. Visitors and kids from local schools can sit on this wooden critter, because touching the live donkeys is not allowed.
Is this one of the donkeys? Nope. Visitors and kids from local schools can ride this docile wooden critter, because touching the live donkeys is not allowed.
Look! We found some horned cattle corralled in a corner! Nope. Wrong again.
Look! We found some horned cattle corralled in a corner! Nope. Wrong again.
California State Park rangers ahead! I think something cool is up this way!
California State Park Rangers ahead! I think something cool is up this way!
It's 30 year old donkey Don. This guy can be grumpy, I'm told. I saw some evidence of that!
It’s 30 year old donkey Don. This guy can be grumpy, I’m told. I saw some evidence of that!
Over here we meet 28 year old Dulce, which in Spanish means sweet, or candy. She (I think it's a she--I didn't ask) is the friendlier donkey.
Over here we meet 28 year old Dulce, which in Spanish means sweet, or candy. She (I think it’s a she–I didn’t ask) is the friendlier donkey.
But the rangers here seem the friendliest of all!
But the rangers here seem the friendliest of all!

Visiting school kids, with the help of Don and Dulce, can learn what life was like (particularly for a donkey) in the very early days of San Diego.

Four things I learned during my brief visit:

Donkeys were a preferred draft and pack animal because of their spine, which pound for pound is much stronger than a horse. A donkey can pull half its weight.

Donkeys are closely related to the zebra.

Don and Dulce are rescue animals.

Old Town has fun surprises around every corner!

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East Village’s SMARTS Farm, a cool urban garden!

A friendly greeting from the folks at downtown's SMARTS farm.
A friendly greeting from the folks at downtown’s SMARTS Farm.

This morning I headed out for a short walk along F Street in downtown San Diego’s East Village, with the intention of photographing some awesome murals and street art. As I was strolling along, my feet carried me into a super cool place I really hadn’t noticed before.

SMARTS Farm is an urban garden run by the nonprofit organization Humane Smarts. In addition to being a community garden, SMARTS Farm offers educational programs aimed at local kids. Children plant their own produce, watch it grow and learn about our environment. Photography classes are also offered!

How appropriate that I randomly discovered this cool place on Earth Day!

Happiness is working in a beautiful urban garden.
Happiness is working in a beautiful urban garden.
Lots of stuff to see, including some photo art.
Lots of stuff to see, including some photo art.
An educational community garden in the concrete jungle.
An educational community garden in the concrete jungle.
SMARTS farm is located on F Street in downtown San Diego.
SMARTS Farm is located on F Street in downtown San Diego’s East Village.
Children learn to love gardening and being outside.
Children learn to love gardening and being outside.
New beds where salsa ingredients will be grown.
New beds where salsa ingredients will be grown.
Lots of fun stuff to see!
Lots of fun stuff to see!
Look at this big old tub of color!
Look at this big old tub of color!
Grow, Cultivate, Learn, Share.
Grow, Cultivate, Learn, Share.

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