The Cannery in Davis

The Cannery Davis

The Cannery Urban Farm is operated by the Center for Land-Based Learning, and serves as a space for beginning farmers to start growing and selling fresh seasonal produce to the surrounding community. This site demonstrates the viability of a relationship between urban uses and agriculture, and creates a sense of connection with the City’s rural heritage and surroundings and serves as a resource for the community. The Cannery neighborhood is located at the former Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery site in Davis, CA. The development consists of 547 homes with energy efficient and Livable Design™ features built into every residence. Known as an ‘agrihood,’ the Cannery features a 5-acre urban farm, which has been managed by the Center for Land-Based Learning since 2015. The farm includes a one-acre orchard, a mile-long hedgerow, and a 3-acre annual crop plot.

Cannery Farm

A Host Site for Beginning Farmers

The Cannery Urban Farm is intended to serve as host site for beginning farmers while selling fresh seasonal produce to the surrounding community. This 5-acre site is designated for farming operations and serves as a California Farm Academy Farm Business Incubator site for beginning farm entrepreneurs; most often graduates of the Beginning Farmer Training program. Plots of land, as well as greenhouse and cooler space, can be leased on an annual basis for up to four or five years, helping new farmers break down some of the main barriers to getting started farming—access to land and infrastructure.

For more information on the incubator farmers currently at the Cannery please visit the Cannery Incubator Farms page.

Healthy Soils Program 2017-2020

The Cannery Urban Farm was one of only two urban farms statewide that received a Healthy Soils Program Grant from the CDFA in 2017. In Spring of 2017, vegetables planted on the farm were growing poorly and not producing at expected levels. In order to get to the root of the problem, exhaustive soil tests and analysis needed to be conducted. Land-Based Learning brought in the local knowledge and expertise, and after exhaustive testing was able to determine that the soils were stratified and heavily compacted, which was causing poor drainage and salt accumulation in the topsoil. The combination of these factors had led to the poor crop performance.

The Cannery Davis

The soil needed rebuilding and Land-Based Learning, taking expert recommendations, decided that an intensive, three-year cover crop regime would help alleviate the soil compaction, leading to better drainage and improve soil health to a point that could support viable vegetable production. More importantly, it could support beginning farmers again! This decision coincided with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announcing their Healthy Soils Program, which provides grant funding for soil improvement projects like what needed to be done at the Cannery Urban Farm. Our proposal to remedy the soil using a combination of crops and compost was approved in late 2017, and this grant supports our efforts to remedy the soil until the end of 2019.

The first step, in the fall of 2017, was to plant a cover crop mix of fava beans, vetch, oats and peas, which helped to fix nitrogen and add organic matter the soil. The crop grew over the winter, and in the spring was disked 12 inches into the soil to incorporate the organic matter. The organic matter helps improve the structure of the clay soil, increases drainage and promotes root and plant growth.

The Cannery Davis

Sorghum Sudan grass was planted as the summer cover crop in 2018, producing a tremendous amount of biomass and its fibrous root system continued to help break down the clay, improving drainage and soil tilth. A winter cover crop follows again, which will include the same fava beans, vetch, oats and peas mix as 2017, as well as the addition of 10 tons of compost which will be incorporated into the soil. Soil tests are currently underway to determine exactly how the efforts so far have impacted the soil health, and tests will occur every 6 months to continue to monitor the impact of our actions.

The cover crop rotation will continue through 2020, at which time the soil should have copious amount of organic matter, in addition to improved structure, making it suitable for vegetable production once again. We add compost to the soil each year because compost is a key to storing carbon in semi-arid cropland soils, and is a strategy for offsetting CO2 emissions. Carbon has to filter through soil microbes to create stabilized forms of carbon in soil. Compost provides not only carbon but also additional vital nutrients for those microbes to function effectively. This is why, in addition to cover cropping, adding compost is a crucial part of our soil restoration work at the Cannery Farm. For more information, visit the CDFA Planting Seeds Blog.

The Cannery Davis

Farm Stand

Farm stands with produce supplied both by the Cannery Farm orchards and from the California Farm Academy Training Program farm in Winters will be held July-September. Check the Cannery Facebook page for more information on farmstand hours of operation.

The Cannery Davis

Community Connection & Education

There is still a lot going on at the farm with multiple beginning farmers using infrastructure and land and hosting their own workshops, farm stands, and more. The Center for Land-Based Learning also regularly holds volunteer days, workshops and events in partnership with agricultural, natural resource and food experts to better connect people with the land, their food and each other so that we create a strong community for all. For more information on how to get involved, please email Liz Blum, and follow the Cannery Urban Farm’s facebook page.

The Cannery Davis

To stay current on upcoming events, Like the Cannery Urban Farm on Facebook.

For more information the Cannery Urban Farm, contact Sri Sethuratnam, (530) 795-4146.

<< Back to the Farm Business Incubator page.