MOTHER OAK FARMS
An Urban/Wild Land Farmstay
and Educational Farming Initiative in Santa Barbara, CA
Above the storied Spanish, American Colonial, English Tudor, and Franco-Norman architecture of the historic community of San Roque is a 3.12 acre hilltop farm. Here, among the Santa Barbara Foothills, you can connect with Mother Earth, find respite, or wrestle with the land, while hearing the Santa Barbara Mission bells toll from beneath the canopy of our 250+ year-old live coastal oak tree, our farm's beloved centerpiece. We call her "Mother Oak."
Advocate for your community to Support Urban Farming
“Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man (and women). When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.”
ABOUT MOTHER OAK FARMS
Here, we are urban interfacing with glorious city, ocean, sunrise and sunset views, and walking distance to Upper State Street and all city life has to offer.
But from the side of the farm that faces the east, the landscape changes to agricultural with sweeping hillside, native chaparral and canyons, to boulders and slabs of sandstone and pines that dot La Cumbre Peak and Figueroa Mountain, both a part of the Transverse Ranges in the Los Padres National Forest notorious for hiking, climbing, and spring wildflowers.
From Mother Oak Farms, you have nearly 360 degrees of views that alters and changes as quickly the sun rises or sets, or the fog rolls in with the weather. The Pacific Ocean and mountains feel so close you can touch them.
Catch a glimpse of a deer or bobcat, or a bear or mountain lion, if you are incredibly lucky, or spend a day birdwatching the acorn woodpeckers, brush jays, California quail, and soaring red-tailed and sharp-shinned hawks. At night, you'll hear the lonesome coyote howl or be greeted by the sight of our resident Western Screech owl we call “Owlinor”from her knock in Mother Oak.
Tonia Allen Gould
Tonia Gould is a land use strategist who has worked in Central America for environmental good through her social entrepreneurial project, Finding Corte Magore. Due to the pandemic, her initiatives in both Nicaragua and Belize halted. Searching for her family’s new home, she stumbled upon a hillside property in need of human invention. It got her to thinking, why not deploy her environmental learning from Central America right here in Santa Barbara? The hillside surrounding her small farm was inaccessible, badly eroding, and its 50 year-old avocado grove was barely producing. To top it all off, the property’s native, coastal chapparal, rife with wildlife, was also thick with fire ladder fuel, which was especially disheartening since the land had already burned in the Jesusita fire.
Once escrow closed in October of 2020, Tonia hit the ground running on her new farm, with the support of her family and ranch hand, Jose Antonio. But her first course of order was saving the property’s beloved, 250+ year-old live coastal oak tree, the immense and beautiful cornerstone to farm. “Mother Oak,” became her moniker. But "she" appeared to be leaning towards the slope, and was dense and heavy with foliage. The arborists removed 4000+ pounds off her boughs.
Since taking possession of the farm, Tonia and her family enjoy watching it come alive. Where the grove only yielded about 400 pounds of Haas avocados per harvest over the past decade, it has since yielded over 2300 pounds at harvest time ever since Tonia donned her new farmer’s cap, utilizing permaculture techniques without using herbicides, pesticides, or rodenticides.
Make no mistake, Mother Oak Farms is work in progress, and Tonia is a new farmer. Despite this, she's committed to her craft, and loves to engage in educational and community outreach initiatives on the farm by deploying what she knows or seeking consult for what she doesn't. She loves to learn as she goes. A few minutes with her and you’ll hear about her love for the land and her interest in community engagement and educational initiatives from this lovely farm that sits along the urban/wild land interface of beautiful Santa Barbara, California.
OUR FIRST BIG HAUL
Meet Connor Jones, Mother Oak Farms Project Manager and Permaculture Expert
In this video, Connor talks about a miracle plant called Vetiver Grass and how we utilize it to control erosion on our vulnerable hillside and further support our conservation efforts.
Here your worries slip away as you breathe the fresh mountain and coastal air of the exalted Mediterranean climate of Santa Barbara. Here you wrestle with hillside terrain and immerse yourself in wildlife and sustainable land use strategies. Here you marvel at glorious sunrises and sunsets and can be as involved as little or as much as you want to be.
At Mother Oak Farms, an educational urban farming collaborative and farmstay, you are smack dab in the center of the urban/wildland interface and you learn as you grow or grow as you learn while leaving your mark on land once called the Jewel of Santa Barbara.
MARVEL AT THE SPECTACULAR VIEWS
Located above the Santa Barbara Mission
Here your worries slip away as you breathe the fresh mountain and coastal air of the exalted Mediterranean climate of Santa Barbara. Here you wrestle with hillside terrain and immerse yourself in wildlife and sustainable land use strategies. Here you marvel at glorious sunrises and sunsets and be as involved as little or as much as you want to be.
At Mother Oak Farms, an educational urban farming collaborative and farmstay, you are smack dab in the center of the urban/wildland interface and you learn as you grow or grow and you learn while leaving your mark on land once called the Jewel of Santa Barbara.
Urban Farming and Wildlife Preservation Can Go Hand in Hand. We choose to not just co-exist with wildlife, we choose to create a safe haven that embraces living on the urban wild land interface.
LOCAL BIRD WATCHING ON THE FARM
"Children are some of the most enthusiastic birders. Their wonderment of seeing and learning something new, especially in nature, is exciting to watch. The biggest regret of most birders is that we didn’t start younger." John E. Ruiutta
A Haven for Creative Growth
During the pandemic, the area of San Roque in Santa Barbara became backyard and garage music-friendly to promote safe distancing gathering through music.
Mother Oak Farms is committed to creating a platform for singers, songwriters, artists, and creatives of all types to showcase their talent and contribute to the community.
Through the farm, we highlight local Santa Barbara artists and musicians. At our most recent congregation, a number of close friends watched a soulful performance by a few local Santa Barbara artists. Pictured here are singer/songwriters David Segall and Josh Jenkins.
Good to Know
We’re always updating you on the Happenings at Mother Oak Farms while browsing the web for the latest news and updates on news that may interest you. Here you’ll find a collection of the most recent articles and resources about relevant topics we've gleaned. We regularly search the web in order to provide community members with the latest, so check back often for great new stories.
BEST PRACTICES FOR CALIFORNIA AVOCADO GROVES IMPACTED BY EXCESSIVE HEAT
HANDS-ON INTENTIONAL GARDENING WORKSHOPS FOR FRIENDS OF THE FARM
VENTURA BRUSH GOATS PULL OUT OF MOTHER OAK FARMS
PRODUCT REVIEW: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
We hope you found our resources section helpful. Get in touch if you want to learn more about Mother Oak Farms!