In Oceanside, This Singer Is Also Known as Farmer Jason Mraz

Check out what he’s doing to keep small family farms afloat in the San Diego area.

You may know singer and songwriter Jason Mraz from his hit single “I’m Yours,” but the 42-year-old San Diego resident is also a local farmer, growing coffee beans and avocados in nearby Oceanside. A proponent of organic farming, Mraz has also been an advocate for small farms in the region, attending city council meetings and fostering ideas to keep developers from swooping up family farmlands. He recently sat down with San Diego Magazine to discuss his venture into coffee farming and the challenges of farming in California today.

“Scott Murray, my farming mentor, was the one who helped me eat my zip code right away when I moved here. He and his wife have a CSA program. I loved that. Scott helped me build my own garden, just a modest four rows with tomatoes and lettuce. Each year the garden grew and took shape and became my little hobby when I wasn’t making music.

In that narrative I said, “I want to convert these 40-year-old avocados to organic.” I saw how expensive it was, and how commercial farming wasn’t profitable for my neighbors or myself. It required new laborers, new applications, certain transformations in terms of water runoff and whatever. My problem was I was a monoculture of avocados. I didn’t have enough diversity to pay back my water bill alone, with the rising water cost during the drought. I learned I needed to diversify.

Through the many different narratives, I asked, ‘What do chefs and people want? What is no one else growing that no one else can provide?’ We looked into saffron or artichokes or gooseberries. We put our feelers out there, and Scott came to us with this idea of coffee after hearing a lecture by Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics. He said, if you can grow avocados, you can grow coffee.”

Read more of Mraz’s interview here.

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