TEMPLETON — On Sunday Apr. 18, the Templeton Hills Community Farm celebrated its one-year anniversary!

Anyone within the community was welcome to enjoy the fresh air at the farm. Homemade blueberry pancakes were served along with other refreshments and produce from the farm.

Templeton Hills church member Joy Chalker said, “It was a great day on the farm! We enjoyed harvesting, the tour, and amazing blueberry pancakes! They were so healthy with freshly ground flour, flax, and chia seeds! Thanks so much for everyone’s effort to make it amazing!”

Farm manager Matt Giese gave farm tours throughout the day showing new guests around and answering any questions.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Zac Page, Pastor of Templeton Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church, said, “We had a great turnout for the farm’s first anniversary. Quite a few people came by for the first time, expressed their excitement at discovering the farm, and said they would be back. Others who had not been up to the farm recently were excited to see how much progress has been made over the past year. Everyone who wanted was able to go home with fresh produce. The blueberry pancakes were also a big hit. It was a lot of fun to see people of all ages milling around the farm. We are excited that people are learning how to grow healthy food and are getting to enjoy healthy outdoor community activity on the farm.”

Giese said they plan to have more events like this in the future. On the tours, Giese let people know that they plan to offer gardening classes, and in July, there are plans for their volunteer beekeeper to share with the community about beekeeping.

The farm is located on Templeton Hills Road in Templeton, between the Templeton Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church and school.

What started as a way to produce healthy and affordable vegetables for their community has grown into a place where people can learn how to grow and harvest their food while building memories and strong relationships.

In 2019, church members wanted a place where people could gather, a community center or maybe a garden, they thought. Matt Giese, the part-time groundskeeper for the school and church, suggested, why not build a farm?

With the help of a grant from the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, the farm started with one hoop house, a small greenhouse, and some outdoor row crops.

In 2020 the farm was ready to open to the public, just a month before the pandemic shutdowns.

But amid pandemic lockdowns and woes, the Templeton Hills Farm became a place of peace for many people.

Steve Mulder, a regular at the farm (and avid lover of microgreens), said, “God has blessed this place–this is not here to make money, this is not a commercial operation. This is a community operation.”

Giese, who now manages the farm, happened to have a passion for gardening already. For the past ten years, he, his wife, and children have loved gardening together as a family hobby.

“We love being outside and harvesting, getting your hands dirty. It’s an awesome experience for kids, for the family,” said Giese.

For Giese, growing their food was one thing, but introducing his children to life’s hard work and seeing their rewards come harvest time was something quite special.

Growing one’s food is a lost art that did seem to develop some traction during 2020 lockdowns. Giese hopes to inspire his children and others to get involved with farming and reignite the age-old trend.

“I want to get kids and people, the younger generation inspired in farming,” said Giese.

Since the farm opened to the public, it has gained another hoop house, and more plans are in the works for expansion. A washing system for produce and a storage container for root vegetables like potatoes and garlic is something the farm is looking forward to.

Mulder says their goal now has become to “Expand the footprint and the impact on the community. We want to keep broadening the impact.”

Improvements and growth of the farm wouldn’t be possible without the outpouring of support it has received from the community and local businesses.

Bay Laurel Garden Center donated 60 fruit trees to the farm, and another community member donated a beehive.

Glenn’s Repair and Rental in Atascadero is also a big supporter of the farm along with Orchard and Vineyard Supply Paso Robles, Holloway Gypsum in Lost Hills, and many others.

Every Sunday from 9 to 3 p.m., people come to the farm to volunteer their time. Throughout the week, Giese manages the farm and creates a list of chores to be done on Sunday.

After produce has been harvested, volunteers get to take home their portion of goods. Sometimes extra items like grapefruit are donated and added to everyone’s pick up of goods for the week.

On Sundays, volunteers operate the Farm Stand, which sits by the curb of the farm parking lot where bundles of produce are often available for pick up!

The Templeton Hills Community Farm is open to all members of the community. Anyone can offer their time or give a donation in exchange for harvested goods, but no one in need will ever be turned away.

“I’m just impressed by how God has led in the process of this–I’m really grateful to be a part of it for that reason,” said Mulder.

Page said, “Seeing what has happened over the past year in the midst of a pandemic gives us a lot of excitement for what can take place to benefit the community through the farm in the coming year!”

Join the fun at the farm and contact Matt Giese at (805)458-7808 or email at templetonhillscommunityfarm@gmail.com or swing by on Sunday!

The farm is located at 930 Templeton Hills Road in Templeton above the parking lot between the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and school, just look for the Farm Stand!

For more information and to follow everything that is happening at the farm, visit their Facebook page @grow.give.serve