Project History

“California’s Golden Brew” originated at Whittier CollegeSince 2011, sal Johnston, Natale Zappia, and Cinzia Fissore have co-directed SUrF’s 1/8-acre learning laboratory and micro-farm. The space includes a California Natives section, raised beds, outdoor teaching area, greenhouse, composting, and small orchard (12 fruit trees). SUrF’s Mission is to foster civic permaculture, instill sustainable ecological practices, and grow urban farms in order to connect the communities in Whittier and beyond. SUrF has collaborated community gardens like the Salvation Army Bell Shelter Urban Farm, Garden School Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Whittier, Earthworks, and La Serna High School Garden Program, and continues to aim at bringing people together both on and off the Whittier College campus. “California’s Golden Brew” and the novel practice of intercropping coffee and avocado is the newest addition to SUrF’s lab.


Our immediate goals for the 2018-19 year is to build on our existing course, programming and more ambitiously, plant our new micro-orchard. We have begun consulting with Scott Murray, sustainable agriculture expert and farm manager at Mraz Ranch. Murray trained at the famed UC Santa Cruz Agroecology Program ( and has decades of expertise in organic farming and coffee- avocado intercropping. Fissore and Zappia have interviewed Murray, who will play a prominent role in their video documentary. Murray recently visited the campus as a short-term Fellow in the SUrF sustainability workshop series (10/5-10/6) to help design the new campus orchard. Murray will advise members of Whittier College Facilities on best practices and planting techniques and will periodically visit the orchard to provide follow-up advice. Much of the initial soil preparation will occur during the upcoming winter, including solarization of the plot. In the spring semester, we will plant the first rows of avocados and coffee. Institutional and external funding will largely determine how many trees we start with, but we envision at least a twenty-five trees to start.

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