Let's Grow!

About Us

Suburban Food Farm's roots extend back to my days building trails in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and earlier as a childhood nature-explorer. Innately, I've felt stewardship of our lands is a solemn responsibility and honor.  Accordingly, once I had my own little piece of suburban paradise with a large yard, it was time to manage a piece of land I could interact with, and give Mother Nature center stage.

San Diego is home to several important Fruity Folks. I gravitated towards the California Rare Fruit Growers, founded in San Diego in 1968. I gleaned knowledge from Tom del Hotal, Jim Neitzel, Dave Yetz, Bob Holzinger, Bill Roley, and other life-long growers. Learning from our elders is a great way to accelerate one's own success! It was fun connecting the dots from my background in Math, IT, and Project Management to Nature and our food system. I am a firm believer in local food production, and growing at least a portion of our own food for peak flavor and nutrition!

I served CRFG-SD as the Vice-Chairman and then Chairman. While a board member, we donated nearly 700 trees to local community groups and schools, and funded scholarships and internships. Serendipitously, I began teaching Ecologic Design / Permaculture at Foothills School in El Cajon, CA. Soon after I became the Soils instructor at Cuyamaca College. I'm biased, and feel Soil is the most important horticulture topic one can study...Next, I became the instructor for Organic Fruit Trees at City College and the Edible Landscaping instructor at Cuyamaca.

Along the way, I consulted/designed/built with hundreds of homeowners and businesses. I grafted thousands of trees, preserving the important varieties developed by my mentors, and the heritage trees of the Palomar Mountain State Park. My small nursery became not-so-small for a time...My early interest in propagation spurred much experimentation and study, leading me to become familiar with many of the fruiting plants that grow well in San Diego, in my own yard and in the extended network of properties I work with throughout southern California.

The SFF Team

Ben Kotnik
Ben is a native San Diegan, gardener, educator, and outdoorsman. His thumbs are green.

      • Chairman - California Rare Fruit Growers - San Diego Chapter (Former)
      • Instructor - Cuyamaca College - Ornamental Horticulture, Soils, Edible Landscaping
      • Instructor - San Diego City College - Sustainable Urban Agriculture, Fruit Trees
      • Instructor - Foothills School - Ecologic Design / Permaculture
      • Owner - Suburban Food Farm and San Diego Movement Therapy
      • Credentialed Teacher (CA) -  Math, Agiculture, Fine Arts,  Health and Fitness, Computers, ESL
      • Speaker - Permaculture Voices, Master Gardeners Festival and Training Program, Festival of Fruit
      • Master Composter
      • Morse HS Teacher of the Year, 2004

Sarah Madsen
Sarah is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Master Aromatherapist, Certified Massage Therapist, nutritionist, and chef. Sarah takes the goodness from the garden and turns them into wonders of wellness. Learn more at Sarah's Massage and Pranic Pantry.