Esco AgTech Hackathon seeks farm/tech innovations

Chino Farm at Rancho Santa Fe/dweisman

The city of Escondido and Fresh Brewed Tech are partnering together to bring the AgTech community together next week at a first-time AgTech incubator.

The objective of the event scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21 to Sunday Oct. 23 at the Synergy CoWorking Centre, 140 North Escondido Boulevard is to bring together farmers, technologies, community leaders, engineers to understand better “today’s agriculture and food system problems and build solutions together with our local customers for the world,” organizers said.

The Hackathon revolves around a team building concept. Participants will put together teams advancing AgTech concept that will receive guidance from hand-picked mentors and facilitators. Each team will prepare a pitch. A panel of judges will award cash prizes to the top pitches.

Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara, San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, and Steve Beck, managing partner of Chicago-based Serra Ventures, a venture capital company focused on early stage growth companies, will speak at the conference.

Creative Coding Careers,  a non-profit apprentice-based code school based at the he Synergy CoWorking Centre will provide working resources.

“We have a lot of opportunity in the logistics part of the movement of food, getting it across borders from local to abroad, and a lot of real-world problems solving that is ripe for tech to come into play,” said Neal Bloom, Fresh Brewed Tech founder.

In a general sense, agricultural tech, or AgTech, represents the bonding of perhaps the world’s oldest business, farming with new tech approaches. This involves a variety of tech advances in the science of livestock and crop management, soil improvement techniques, equipment upgrades, sensors, better sustainability practices, food safety and data gathering through the use of artificial intelligence, or AI, geographical information systems, 5G technology and ag-related cyber security.

Said Jennifer Schoeneck, deputy director of Economic Development for the City of Escondido, and a Hackathon organizer, “We see AgTech as a key driver of economic growth in Escondido and the region, so we are here to support and provide resources for entrepreneurs looking to tackle some of the big challenges the agriculture industry is facing.”

Sometimes surprising for think of the place as a military hub and beach centered culture, San Diego County has more small farms — 5,000 of less than 10 acres — than any other county in America, with much of the agricultural output centered in North County around Escondido, Valley Center, Fallbrook and Oceanside. 

San Diego County ranks 19th in the nation among over 3,000 counties nationwide in farm dollar values. It’s  first in the nation for nursery crops, avocados and number of part-time farmers. The county is second in the nation in acres of guavas, pomegranates, limes and macadamias and second in farms with women as principal operators. It’s fifth in the nation in lemons, ninth in strawberries and 10th in egg-laying hens. The latest Crop Report issued this month said agriculture generated $1,75 billion in values in 2021. 

“As an agricultural hub of the county, we’re encouraged to see the city of Escondido offering programs and resources that will further the sustainable production of healthy food,” said Oli Bachie, director, and UCCE Agronomy and Weed Management Advisor for San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties to a local news source.

“Most of our San Diego growers are in the northern part of the county,” Bachie continued, “and events like these that encourage industry collaboration and demonstrate new practices and technology can help facilitate more sustainable economic growth in San Diego County and beyond.”

The 3-day event kicks off from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 with a networking session, the keynote address and presentation of ideas by attendees who will be grouped into teams. Organizers will conduct an orientation on how toprogress team idea over the course of the conference.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, mentors will meet teams over breakfast and instruct them on customer development techniques. Teams will receive customer development feedback. After lunch, teams will analyze feedback, meet with mentors and build early prototypes. They’ll also put together presentations and practice pitches.

From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, attendees will meet for breakfast, put tgther slide presentaions and meet wth mentors. The pitch competition presentations follow with judges scoring pitches and pries in excess of $10,000 awarded. The conference finishes up with a social networking lunch.

Social networking attendee tickets for the three days cost $15 while active Hackathon participants pay $99. The bottom-line, Bloom said, was that “we need to create new solutions,” to existing problems with the use of technology for farmers today.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to or email

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