Califonia Bountiful

Sand n' Straw Community Farm

Family farm provides community with bounty of local food

When does a part-time hobby turn into a full-time career? When hard work and persistence intersect with joy and satisfaction. Or at least that was the case for April and Rich Viles, owners of Sand n' Straw in Vista, which is about an hour outside of San Diego. The name derives from the couples' past: They both grew up near the beach, which is the "sand," and what they hope is their future—their nearly 100-year-old, 6-acre farm, which is the "straw." They purchased the property in 2018 as something their family could do together. But along the way, they also ended up building a farm for other families in their mostly urban community to enjoy too.

The couple practices regenerative agriculture, which involves such practices as rotating crops, increasing the biodiversity on the farm, and growing an assortment of fruits and vegetables—and so there is a wide variety of produce available all year long. It's also good news for local chefs like Jason Baker, who regularly come to harvest the fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the farm and then prepares family-style meals at farm dinners on the farm.

Feeding folks with their bounty of produce is just part of what April and Rich hope to do. Empowering the next generation of eaters about the importance of local farms is another of the cornerstone beliefs at Sand n' Straw, and that starts with local schools. The couple regularly hosts field trips to the farm where kids can get up close with the farm animals, try their hand at a science experiment or read and sing about where their food comes from during an interactive story hour.

Connecting folks, young and old, with their local food producers and having them experience farm fresh fruits and veggies for themselves is exactly what this couple is hoping to grow now and into the future!

For more information about Sand n' Straw, visit

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