Farming for the Future in Escondido

How agriculture and AgTech grows in San Diego’s North County

Subscribe to "Escondido Business Insight" for more stories like this delivered monthly to your inbox.

Tucked away in foothills, Escondido may be the “hidden” valley of San Diego County, but its agriculture footprint is no secret. For centuries, Escondido’s reputation as a grower’s haven drew in farmers far and wide to plant their roots in the city.

Escondido had — and still boasts —  a unique and ideal environment for agriculture that makes it a premier locale within San Diego County and all of California. That’s why the County’s first avocado tree was planted here in 1892. You don’t have to be acquainted with our local farmers to see the impact of the industry all around you.

  • Escondido farms make up 19% of the County's agricultural production

  • About 5,000 acres of Escondido are avocado groves, citrus trees and nurseries

  • Avocado revenues alone impact the economy by more than $100 million per year, and most of these dollars are spent by farm employees and by farms purchasing equipment and services

  • Agriculture, along with food and beverage production related to agriculture, are two of the largest employment clusters in the City of Escondido, employing over 2,446 people.

A rainbow cascades the vineyards at Highland Valley Vineyards.

“Escondido has a rich history of farming throughout the area,” said Jennifer Schoeneck, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “It really is a hub for farming in San Diego County.”

And it all started in the late 1800s, when the first Escondido farmers came to the region to grow citrus, grapes and avocados. Many of these families are still operating today, a rare multigenerational legacy as agricultural resources dwindle. Today’s Escondido growers face mounting water shortages, the pressures of climate change, and labor woes. The pandemic exacerbated these issues.

Aquacycl’s BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology wastewater systems in use on a site.

“Escondido is ensuring long-term viability for agriculture,” said Hanna Gbeh, Executive Director for the San Diego County Farm Bureau. “An example of that is the clean water pipeline they are constructing. This is a national model of how to successfully make sure you can keep agriculture continuing to develop in urban environments.”

Water isn’t the only commodity being recycled in Escondido. Part of Escondido’s investment in AgTech also involves cleantech and other clean measures, such as food waste recycling. Through the help of EDCO, Escondido residents were able to adopt California’s new food waste laws, requiring that food waste scraps, yard trimmings and other organic waste be disposed of properly in green bins. These compostable materials play an important part in agriculture. Companies like EDCO work to break down these materials into microorganisms that can be used in farming. 

Computer rendering of the MFRO facility to be completed in 2023.

Microorganisms made from the breakdown of our materials help companies and farmers rely less on chemicals, antibiotics and other additives that help their production. That was the quest for Escondido business owner and scientist, Dr. Suresh Menon, who founded Menon Renewable Products, a company that makes a revolutionary animal feed that converts waste into feed for animals. It is the first product of its kind to do this while getting rid of the need for antibiotics in animal feed. 

Serial entrepreneur and inventor Dr. Suresh Menon.

Providing a reliable and safe supply of food for animals is an important effort, as food production greatly strains the health of our environment. It’s one of the primary concerns for Bill Toone, an Escondido biologist and conservationist who founded Ecolife Conservation to create healthy ecosystems between humans, plants and animals. Ecolife tackles a number of environmentally draining challenges, such as smoke-free cooking. 

These companies and innovative leaders find home in Escondido due to the dedicated concentration made by the City to nurture these efforts. No one does it better than Escondido, which is why the San Diego County Farm Bureau opened its AgHub in the City in 2017. The San Diego AgHub, located off of Broadway and 4th Avenue, acts as the home base for farmers, growers and AgTech companies to exchange ideas, information and resources. 

San Diego County Farm Bureau offices are in the AGHub building in Escondido.

It’s here where agriculture companies like Henry Avocado, can learn the latest from their local government. Founded in 1925, the Escondido-based avocado pioneer company counts on Escondido’s business-friendliness to continue to expand in the City. 

The beautiful avocado farms in Escondido.

“Being located on Escondido's Harmony Grove Road gives the company a central location among its Southern California customers and easy access to Interstate 15 and Route 78,” said Henry Avocado Co-Founder Charles Henry. “Henry Avocado was built on strong relationships with business associates and customers, which gives the company more reason to stay and grow in Escondido.”

We’re happy to have Henry Avocado, and others, contributing to Escondido’s glorious agriculture and AgTech sectors. Whether we’re harvesting avocados or recycling water, Escondido’s farming future looks bright. 


Comments are closed on this post.