ABOUT US

THE CENTER FOR URBAN AGRICULTURE
AT FAIRVIEW GARDENS

We are on a mission to build a community that understands local food systems with a focus on regenerative agriculture where access to high quality produce is available for all. 

ABOUT THE FARM

The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens is a California non-profit organization established in 1997. It owns and operates a nearly 13 acre certified organic farm in the heart of the Goodland surrounded by a community of residents and businesses in the bustling suburban costal town of Goleta. The land is forever protected as an agricultural education facility by a Land Trust Agreement put in place by the Santa Barbara County Land Trust.

This unique urban farm property is utilized to produce a variety of high quality annual and perennial crops, trees, herbs and flowers. In concert with the happenings of the farm operations, a host of educational programs, workshops, classes, tours and events are held throughout the year.   

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As we continue to expand our outreach efforts, we hope to create a broader more equitible resource for our community. By providing highly nutrient rich food, robust educational opportunities and meaningful connctions, we will build positive relationships that last for gerations to come. 

HISTORY

Fairview Gardens rests on what was once the largest Chumash Indian settlement on the Central Coast of California. Through time, this property has been through many iterations. For the Chumash, it was an unspoiled homeland and for the Spanish ranchers, a conquest. Turn-of-the-century settlers saw a place to build a home, establish orchards, and hunt in the lush watershed.

As the story goes, the original ranch got its name, when Mrs. Hollister exclaimed over the “fair view” she saw looking South from her farmhouse to the Pacific Ocean. The original farmhouse built in 1895 still stands on its original location. Under her feet was some of the richest topsoil in California – 30 feet deep in some places. As far as she could see, citrus and walnut groves stretched to the foothills and to the sea throughout the Goleta Valley. The groves are mostly gone now as suburbia took their place, but 13 acres in the heart of Goleta remains protected.

The Chapman Family
Roger and Cornelia Chapman bought the land at 598 N. Fairview Ave. in 1975. They had already been farming organically in the Santa Barbara and Goleta area for years, and they were eager to try a new idea of providing an environment for the community to learn about the benefits of organic farming. They spent several years regenerating the soil and transforming the barren land into a thriving organic farm. Roger, Chairman of the UCSB Music Department through the 1960s and ’70s, was an educator. He envisioned a farming ‘classroom’ where people could come learn about all aspects of organic farming, then go on to create their own operations, thereby expanding the reach of organic principals. The first groups of eager young farmers to learn at Fairview Gardens did just that, and continue to run successful organic farming operations in the area. In the many years since, countless individuals have turned their education at Fairview Gardens into practical and sustainable farming businesses.

After Roger’s death in 1989, the Chapman family continued to run Fairview Gardens as one of three organic operations in the Goleta Valley. By 1993, they were ready to pass the torch. They wanted to protect the land from future development and to make sure that it continued as an organic farming operation and education center.

Michael Ableman
In 1981, Michael Ableman took a job grafting orange trees at Fairview Gardens. When the farm manager left, Ableman remained for the next 20 years. His passion for organic farming and the urban agriculture movement was instrumental in building the reputation of Fairview Gardens. An accomplished photographer and writer, Ableman has published many books including 'On Good Land: The Autobiography of an Urban Farm' which chronicles his adventures at Fairview Gardens.

The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens
In 1997, with help from the Chapman family, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County created an agricultural easement on the land and the nonprofit Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens was formed. Grant funds awarded by the County Board of Supervisors, along with private and foundation gifts, helped complete the land purchase. The first executive director was Michael Ableman. The written land trust guarantees the farm’s preservation as an organic agricultural and educational facility in perpitutiy. This was the dream of Roger and Cornelia Chapman. Michael Ableman was responsible for transforming Fairview Gardens into an early model farm for sustainable, organic, urban agriculture. 

Fairview Gardens is steadfast in its commitment to the community. Thanks to the vision, generosity and hard work of all the farmers, volunteers, donors and staff, Fairview Gardens will forever exist as a natural space to enjoy a productive organic farm, and an education center accessible to the entire community.