On this agriculture-themed episode of Issues & Ideas, we hear the second half of a conversation with Brent Burchett of the SLO County Farm Bureau, about issues facing farmers on the Central Coast. Father Ian takes us on a journey to explore growing and enjoying Central Coast artichokes. We learn more about a new research project in a San Miguel vineyard involving vermiculture, and tag along on a tour of a vermicompost production facility. And we get the lowdown on a state grant program designed to encourage healthy soils. Finally, meet the newest baby giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Debbie Thomas, owner of Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, California
Thomas Wilmer

Thomas Hill Organics is a Paso Robles Bistro and wine bar that has maintained a primary mission of sourcing and preparing locally sourced, organically grown ingredients. Eight years after opening their doors, they are now putting finishing touches on a second location in downtown San Luis Obispo. Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with the owner Debbie Thomas.

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Randol White - KCBX News

The organic farm at Cal Poly is being called one of the ten best university-based farms in the nation.

The organization Best College Reviews says the school's 11 acre farm in San Luis Obispo integrates well with the main campus and surrounding community, has good student interaction, and is sustainable.

Cal Poly's farm is certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers organization. It's managed by students, faculty and staff.

Flickr user: dianejp

Farmers and ranchers throughout the Central Coast and around the nation are being asked to take part in a first-of-its-kind government survey on organic food production.

It's part of the US Department of Agriculture's regular census, but marks the first time questions involving organics have been included.

Congressman Sam Farr is the ranking member on the House Agricultural Appropriations Committee and represents much of the Salinas Valley. He also helped legitimize the organic industry in California when he was a state assemblyman. 

Santa Maria Town Center Farmers Market Facebook page

The Saturday morning farmers market held at Santa Maria's Town Center Mall has struggled to find its vendors and customers, but is "still hanging in" there according to organizer Christy Laschiver.

The outdoor market features all organic fruits and vegetables with a variety of cottage food vendors offering fare, like baked goods and candies.


Whole Foods buys several New Frontiers locations

Mar 31, 2014
New Frontiers

The popular New Frontiers Natural Marketplace on Los Osos Valley Road in San Luis Obispo will soon become a Whole Foods Market.

The Austin, Texas-based chain announced Monday that it's buying four stores operated by New Frontiers, including the store in SLO. The three other stores are all in Arizona.

New Frontiers also runs a store in Solvang and an organic farm in Buellton, however the announcement did not mention anything about those locations.