Community Commentary Opinion

Local organic farm needs support

A recent complaint from a resident of a new housing development to the city of Encinitas is threatening a local organic farm’s existence.

Coral Tree Farm and Nursery has been a part of our community since 1958. It is a local family owned farm dedicated to producing heirloom vegetables, tropical fruit and free-range eggs.

Besides providing organic produce, they also teach children about growing food and raising animals in balance with the earth.

This is a thriving farm and place of education for children and adults alike. It is unacceptable that a complaint should threaten to shut down this invaluable amazing place.

I believe it is time to rewrite our city’s outdated restrictive ordinances. The City of Detroit recently legalized urban agriculture to encourage the green movement and allows the sale of fruits and vegetables from backyards. Even New York City has flourishing rooftop farms!

But what is going on here in Encinitas? Instead of supporting our local urban farms there are more giant homes being built, the open spaces left are being replaced by huge housing developments. This it is not why we love Encinitas and what makes it special. Our town is losing its character at an alarming rate. (Anyone remember Miracle’s Coffee Shop or the sweeping views of fields and mountains north of Leucadia?)

Farming has been an important part of our community for generations and this heritage should help us move forward to a sustainable future.

Urban agriculture has multiple benefits. It provides us with high quality fresh produce (in most cases your food is harvested the same day you buy it), adds greenery to cities, helps people/ children to reconnect with the earth and has a low carbon footprint because there is no long-distance transportation involved.

Coral Tree Farm has been part of Encinitas history and it deserves to be part of it’s future!

Please, come visit Coral Tree Farm (coraltreefarm.com).  Let the city of Encinitas know that you support organic urban agriculture by writing a short letter of support to coraltreefarm@gmail.com.

Simone Schad-Siebert H.H.P. is an Encinitas resident.

 

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6 comments

Brian Crouch June 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I’m guessing once again your paper is only broadcasting one side of the story. Who did you let write such a story? Here are some facts from one who lives on the same street as this large-scale retail farm business nestled in a residential neighborhood.
1) The Farm owner has NOT been in business on Park lane sense 1958. It started up about a year ago on my street
2) The owner of the farm does not live in Encinitas so she is not a part of our community. Laurel Mehl the farm owner lives in Temecula.
3) 12 years ago Laurel inherited and sold ~ four acres where the farm is located for a profit to develop 10 single family homes. At that point the zoning was changed by the city for a profit to residential. You can’t come back over 10 years later and start a farm on the one remaining vacant lot her family still owns.
4) Park Lane is an Encinitas style, quite, cu de sac and now gets between 20-30 cars at a time coming and going to the farm.
5) Zoning laws govern retail business from existing in single family residential neighborhoods for a good reason. If you want your neighborhood run down you should contact Laurel and she if she will move in on your street.
Laurel Mehl
phone: 951-445-2342
e-mail: coraltreefarm@gmail.com
Address: 598 Park Ln, Encinitas, CA 92024

Rick June 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Its a bummer that progress changes the way we do or did things for generations… As a long time resident of Solana Beach and Encinitas I remember when this area in question was all greenhouses and avocado orchards. I understand how progress forces us all to make frustrating changes. Unfortunately if this farm has been a part of our City since 1958 they probably should have held onto the surrounding real estate and not sold out to big developers for the big $$$… In short you can’t have your carrot cake and eat it too…

Laurel Mehl July 3, 2014 at 8:00 am

Ironically, our existing farm family did not receive any of the big $$$. Our family is farming there because I love to garden not for any pursuit of money. I love having our community visit with their children and they love being there.

It is the neighbor complaining about his property value decreasing from our presence who has made big $$$ on his house value going up. Although our farm has been there all along, this same person’s house value has increased an average of half a million in the last few years as demonstrated by the last house sold on Park Ln.
There is no evidence(in other words his statements can be proven false ) that supports much of what he has written and indeed what he believes is the “beginning of our retail” which he is complaining about this last year is simply our family opening our farm to community children to visit.

It has been limited to two days a month. If you cannot share a public street two days a month with community children, that is really a shame and shines a light on who you are and how you value your community.

Norma Hill July 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I personally know Laurel Mehl and I believe her farm is a great asset to our community. Every time I’ve been there it’s been quiet with no farm trucks or tractors creating noise or excessive traffic. It does happen to be a public street which is the only opening to the farm, and she is a long standing tax paying citizen of Encinitas entitled to live and receive guests there. The fact is that the farm has sold fruit and vegetables off of the land that Mr. Crouch is living on since the 1950’s. He can look at historical pictures of the farm if he is interested in learning the facts. I would like to know how one would think that people getting healthy organic food twice a month is bringing property values down. I question his values if that’s what he thinks. The family does in fact live there – they are 4th generation Jessop family members. If Mr. Crouch is interested in learning the truth about the property, he can contact Laurel and see the historical photos and get first hand knowledge of this wonderful farm

Celia Kiewit June 17, 2014 at 9:16 am

Strange article indeed! Never heard of this place. I completely agree with the previous comments. Let’s try to get a real community garden approved in Encinitas, eh?

Lisa burke June 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm

This is not a large scale retail farm!!! Laurel is dedicated to educating both children and adults on sustainable farming practices. Have you even been over to visit this ‘large’ retail farm as you call it?? It is small and run well. Maybe you should have bought a home in a gated community or a neighborhood that did not have an existing farm already present. I support Laurel and sincerely hopes she prevails in keeping the farm open. And yes, I would love to be able to walk next door and get fresh eggs and vegetables. She only allows people to come 2 days a week to keep from bothering her neighbors. The audacity and entitlement floors me…..

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