ENCINITAS — An Encinitas-based farm hopes the public will help it raise another $25,000 by year’s end in an effort to feed at least 5,000 low-income residents in San Diego County.
Coastal Roots Farm, a Jewish-based community farm, plans to donate more than 6,000 pounds of high-quality, organic produce to 1,500 families in the final weeks of 2019. The organization’s leaders said the produce will help recipients meet its daily recommended servings of vegetables.
Kesha Spoor, the philanthropy and communications manager for Coastal Roots Farm, said it costs roughly $5 to feed one person his or her recommended servings of vegetables. But, nearly one in seven San Diego County residents go hungry, Spoor said.
“The farm’s Produce Donation Program addresses food insecurity in North San Diego County by meeting the most basic of human needs for struggling families and individuals — access to fresh, healthy, organic food,” Spoor said. “We reach low-income individuals, seniors, low-level enlisted military, veterans, immigrants and refugees, at-risk youth and Holocaust survivors who lack access to or cannot afford the quality, healthy produce they need to nourish their bodies.”
Although its year-end goal is to raise enough money for 6,000 pounds of produce, the nonprofit donates roughly 40,000 pounds of food each year to 20,000 people, Spoor said.
Since the farm was created five years ago, Spoor said Coastal Roots Farm has donated more than 160,000 pounds of food to the community through its on-site pay-what-you-can Farm Stand, pop-up farm stands at Vista Community Clinic and Camp Pendleton, and donations to local hunger relief organizations.
Coastal Roots Farm doesn’t just provide donations to those in need. It also provides education, Spoor said.
“The farm nourishes community in other ways too,” Spoor said. “In addition to food, we provide educational opportunities and host community events that increase awareness, involvement, and passion for nature, environmental stewardship, and food systems and foster a more vibrant, welcoming community for people of all backgrounds to connect, learn, celebrate, explore and engage with the land, food, and one another.”
But Coastal Roots Farm relies heavily on the public’s support to help others, said Garth Denton-Borhaug, the nonprofit’s post-harvest and distribution coordinator.
“We rely on public support to not just run these programs, but also to forward this important paradigm shift,” Denton-Borhaug said. “Donations and enthusiasm about our mission both make possible our ability to lead these efforts and be a resource to families in need.”
Residents from low-income communities are particularly in need of high-quality, organic produce because it is often more expensive than other foods you might find at the store, Denton-Borhaug said.
“While there is a lot of cheap food out there, quality, organic, nutrient-dense food is more expensive, and therefore less accessible to families that are not as privileged,” Denton-Borhaug said. “At the farm, we are dedicated to families of all backgrounds to ensure they have equal access to this same food. It’s about food justice, really. It’s the reason we donate so much of our food and offer a pay-what-you-can model at our on-site Farm Stand.”
Other than providing monetary donations, the public can also volunteer at Coastal Roots Farm to help the nonprofit reach its mission of providing food to as many people as possible.
“Our cherished volunteers help us grow and harvest the produce we provide for the community, connecting to the land, food, and each other along the way,” Spoor said. “We are somewhat of a hidden gem and we would love to see more people take advantage of what we have to offer.”
For more information about Coastal Roots Farm or to make a donation, go to coastalrootsfarm.org/.
Hoa Quach has 15 years of experience in journalism, garnering multiple awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. She’s been named a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, featured in BuzzFeed during International Women’s Day and recognized by the California Legislature for her work. You can reach her at email@example.com.