ENCINITAS — When the Coastal Roots Farm in 2016 created a separate nonprofit from its parent organization, the Leichtag Foundation, its first goal was “resource development.”
In laymen’s terms, the farm wanted to raise at least half of its budget independent of the parent group, said Sharyn Goodson, Leichtag’s philanthropy director.
The farm, which fuses Jewish agriculture tradition and sustainable agricultural practices and provides fresh produce to charities that assist food-insecure and hungry residents, is slowly moving toward resource independence, as evidenced by a $10,000 grant the farm recently received in a nationwide competition.
“We’re getting there,” Goodson said. “The grant might seem like a small piece, but that is how we are going to build sustainability, by piecing together these small amounts.”
The grant comes from Seeds of Change, an organic food brand and a subsidiary of Mars, Inc., which awards grants to schools and local programs that support sustainable communities.
Coastal Roots Farm was one of 20 organizations across the country to receive at least $10,000 from Seeds of Change. Four of the 20 groups received the grand prize of $20,000.
Seeds of Change officials said the 20 recipients stood out by combining educational efforts with community service.
“They demonstrated not only the dedication of educating the importance of seed-to-table, but also to philanthropy,” said Maggie Cereghino, a Seeds of Change spokeswoman.
Goodson said the process of applying for the grant — which included a public vote on the website and an interview phase for the 50 finalists — helped spread awareness of the farm in the community.
“We were excited to have the exposure of asking people to vote for us,” Goodson said. “And we were also excited to have the opportunity to explain our plan for the grant to the interviewing committee.”
The farm plans to use the grant funds to support its product donation program, which aims to increase access to healthy food and nutrition education to the region’s most vulnerable populations.
It accomplishes that through produce donations to nonprofits such as Community Resource Center, Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Jewish Family Service and Kitchens for Good.
The farm also operates “pay-what-you-can pop-up” markets at Camp Pendleton for military families, and the Vista Community Clinic for individuals from low-income backgrounds.
Ultimately, Goodson said, the grant gets the farm closer to the goal of financial sustainability.