Growing a love for food and farming

Being born into a farming community was probably the beginning of Milijan Krecu’s relationship to and passion for food. After immigrating from what was formerly Yugoslavia in eastern Europe as a kid, he was in college at the University of California, Santa Cruz, when he discovered that everyone wasn’t experiencing the same joy and flavor from food that he’d grown up with.

“I realized not all food was as good as my mom’s after I went off to college. It motivated me to learn to grow, cook and share my love and appreciation for fresh, flavorful, wholesome food. Something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life,” he says.

Today, he’s the assistant property manager and farm adviser for the Leichtag Foundation’s Leichtag Commons agricultural property, where he manages a crew for repairs and works with the foundation’s farmers on pest management, quality control and other farming issues. The private and independent foundation works to support Jewish life in North County and Israel, fight poverty and advance self-sufficiency.

Krecu, 61, lives on the property in Encinitas with his wife, Leah (they have a 23-year-old daughter who lives in Georgia). He took some time to talk about his work with the foundation and farming, his successes and failures in organic farming, and how he got the nickname “the farmer chef.”

Q: Tell us about Leichtag Commons and its farm.

A: In 2012, the Leichtag Foundation purchased the former Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas. The goal for this 67.5‐acre agricultural property, now known as Leichtag Commons, is to create a physical platform for the advancement of supporting programs in Jerusalem, Israel; combating poverty and increasing self-sufficiency for residents of coastal North County; supporting Jewish life here and building strong connections and relationships between San Diego and Israel; and create a cultural and community resource for the San Diego region.

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