By Amber Hoffman
The growing number of food recalls has led many to look for local sources for clean, safe and fresh food. As a result, urban farming and community-supported agriculture programs have gained popularity in recent years and connect growers directly with the consumer.
Locally, Seabreeze Organic Farm in Carmel Valley has helped fill the bill, providing fresh, organic food to San Diegans for more than 20 years.
The 2-acre farm is owned and operated by Stephenie Caughlin and feeds approximately 150 families each week through community-supported agriculture (CSA).
According to the USDA, the program consists of consumers who invest in a farm's harvest, and either reap the benefits or suffer the loss of a poor harvest. These investors also are entitled to their weekly share of the food; farmers in turn gain financial security and receive better prices for their crops.
"It's too expensive to plant without the insurance of income," Caughlin said. "(CSA) helps spread the risk of growing."
Seabreeze delivers a basket of about a dozen different vegetables and half a dozen fruits to clients' homes and offices for $58.50 per week. The fruits and vegetables offered change from week to week depending on the season. A typical basket during the winter may include lettuce, cabbage, edible flowers, snow peas, oranges, apples, bananas, jewel jams and always includes a bouquet of flowers.
Ocean Beach resident Jenn James has been a Seabreeze subscriber for about a year.
"I really like to cook and having a bag of farm fresh produce delivered to my door every week is very appealing to me," James said. "It has an element of surprise. I never know what's going to be in my bag."
Although Seabreeze is not certified organic due to the cost of certification, Caughlin has an open door policy at Seabreeze.
"Customers are welcome to come and see and taste," Caughlin said. "I would think that the person I got my food from is a person I'd want to know."
Caughlin worked as a high school teacher and in the commodities business before quitting to become a farmer. She began growing in 1988, teaching herself how to farm through trial and error.
"I turned 40 and I wanted to do something good with my life," Caughlin said.
Every corner of Seabreeze Organic Farm is brimming with life. The property is one winding path of vegetation after another. It includes a greenhouse, fruit trees, a henhouse complete with a 16-year-old rooster and a white fabric greenhouse with a dirt floor, where Caughlin often paints.
Caughlin plans to open a bed and breakfast on her property by late spring that will consist of a straw bale house, recently built by volunteers, and two bungalows, accommodating about 10 guests in all.
"I want my bed and breakfast to be an escape from the city," Caughlin said.
Caughlin will soon offer a variety of classes on her property, ranging from watercolor to animal husbandry classes for children and survival classes that would teach locals how to grow food in their own backyards.
For more information on Seabreeze Organic Farm, visit
or call 481-0209.