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San Luis Obispo extends lease with City Farm SLO: Affordable farmland with educational services

Shane Lovell, Farm Manager at City Farm SLO, teaches student Savannah Duran how to feed the sheep
Angel Russell
Shane Lovell, Farm Manager at City Farm SLO, teaches student Savannah Duran how to feed the sheep

The city of San Luis Obispo extended a lease with City Farm SLO, a non-profit which provides affordable farmland and helps educate underserved youth in the community.

If you’ve driven on Highway 101 going Southbound from San Luis Obispo, you may have passed the 19 acre farm off of Los Osos Valley Road without ever noticing it.

“It’s hidden in plain sight," said City Farm SLO Farm Manager Shane Lovell. "Everyone drives by it all the time but no one really knows about it.”

On Thursday, Lovell was helping teach a class to differently abled students. In this lesson, the students were learning how to take care of the sheep on the farm.

Savannah Duran, who is wheelchair bound, is one of the students. She’s been learning about farm practices for two years and has been coming weekly to the hands-on lectures.

“I think I like them teaching me how to plant — that would have to be my favorite," Duran said. "And all the facts they teach me with the animals.”

Kayla Rutland, executive director for City farm SLO, said that's what this organization is all about — helping to educate underserved youth and providing affordable, sustainable farming land to farmers.

“And they are growing for our local community. So they are selling at farmers markets, selling to the school district," Rutland said. "And the farm is a great place for people to connect.”

City Farm SLO has been operating since 2014 and Rutland said she’s thrilled the city has extended their lease for another 40 years.

“It’s huge!" Rutland said. "We are really excited and I think it really speaks volumes about what our city council and our community values.”

Rutland said the lease extension means the non-profit has room for more plans, including adding new educational programs and taking in more animals.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.