In the midsummer of 2021, David Conty heard about an evolving project in a former credit union building in Chula Vista, where people are encouraged to pursue creative endeavors that bolster the community through farming. The space and land are operated by San Diego Urban Timber, whose mission is to “mill, design, and build functional art for their clients with the San Diego trees they rescue.”
David’s ears perked up, but life got busy, as it often does.
Conty visited the space and saw a parking lot full of potential. He had just begun a farming mentorship under Paul Maschka, a local organic farmer and educator who has a farm called the Farmer’s Shadow (learn more @paulmaschka) across I-5 from San Diego Urban Timber. Agricultural kismet was at play. The former credit union felt like a blank canvas for organic farming opportunities. The medians that had previously housed lifeless sod were soon to be transformed into fertile soil for growing food that would support the Urban Timber community and beyond.
Today, Conty has created a lush oasis of over 30 different types of heirloom veggies, fruits, herbs, and flowers at San Diego Urban Timber. The farm’s mission is to encourage people to connect more intentionally with the food they eat; to have them share the food with others to create deeper relationships and to delight in produce. With a regenerative approach, his focus is to grow heirloom produce from seed, often highlighting crops that are lesser-known, such as the dragon-tail radish or mizuna. The Santa Barbara transplant leads guided harvests to people visiting the property and often sends the San Diego Urban Timber employees home with handfuls of fresh produce. Conty also sells veggie bags to the public, donates vegetables to refugees, is offering workshops, and is gearing up to host his first pop-up dinner.
Since breaking soil in January, Conty has seen San Diego Urban Timber grow. This project is special because of the diverse community, linking the land with art and the everyday. Collaborators are creating art out of fallen trees that would otherwise be discarded and holding workshops like yoga and cob-building (cob is a building made of a mixture of soil, straw, and water), to name a few projects.
Conty and the community at 610 Bay Boulevard are demonstrating how a small group of passionate people can transform a once-desolate space into a habitat for artists, farmers–and even chickens–to all thrive together.