International Rescue Committee (IRC)

New Roots in San Diego

Since 2007, the IRC in San Diego has created several of the key projects being replicated across the IRC’s national network as part of the IRC New Roots program.

New Roots Farm

The IRC in San Diego’s Food Security and Community Health (FSCH) Program creates innovative and sustainable projects that increase healthy, locally-grown, culturally-appropriate foods for and by San Diego’s refugee and low-income communities.  Since 2007, the FSCH Program has partnered closely with our clients, local neighborhoods and organizations throughout San Diego County to find durable solutions to food insecurity, health problems, and economic hardship through community-based food and farming projects. 

I'm familiar with the projects and I want to be part of the success!

The Food Security and Community Health (FSCH) Program creates projects and services for our refugee clients to have a healthy resettlement. Our Program focuses on five inter-related core project areas: 1) Healthy, Culturally-Appropriate Food Security, 2) Nutrition and Wellness, 3) Farming Enterprise, 4) Community Leadership, and 5) Advocacy and Systems Change. All these areas together form the fundamentals of a neighborhood-scale food system, which empowers residents as producers, vendors and consumers of healthy food while simultaneously building local economic development.

Our Program constantly strives for sustainability and scalability in all we do. We are committed to sharing and training others in our program models, technical knowledge and project tools to allow as many people and organizations to engage and sustain this work.

Our current projects include the following:


New Roots Community Farm
The New Roots Community Farm provides growing spaces for 85 families in the heart of the City Heights neighborhood. Many of the participants were farmers in the home country and this is their first opportunity to reconnect with the land in the United States, as well as double their family’s food security and nutrition access. The farm is open to the public.

Got gardening tools to donate? 







New Roots Fresh Farm Community Garden in El Cajon
The IRC recently opened a new community garden in conjunction with Kaiser Permanente.  The garden provides growing space for 40 families in El Cajon.






Agripreneur Training Program
The IRC Agripreneur Training Program (ATP) is a hands-on beginning farmer training program to assist refugees in farming as a business. ATP participants receive classroom, field-based training and 1-on-1 technical assistance in farm business planning, marketing, production and land acquisition. Our farm training site is located on an 80-acre farm in the beautiful Pauma Valley. Currently, IRC is leasing 20-acres and training about 20 refugee farmers in commercial farming business operations. Additionally, the farm will grow into a farm incubator as IRC subleases land to graduating ATP participants.

Join the ATP CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)!

Click here to view a list of local restaurants that purchase produce from IRC farm programs.


New Roots Food Hub







Farmers Market

Farmers’ Markets




The IRC in San Diego operates the Downtown El Cajon Farmers' Market and assists in the management of the City Heights Farmers' Market.

Downtown El Cajon Famers' Market: Thursdays, 3 to 7pm    
Discover a world of fresh, new flavors grown right here in San Diego.   Shop for local grown fruits and vegetable, certified organic products, and freshly baked breads and specialty foods. Sample ethnic dishes prepared by chefs from all over the world and enjoy live performances on the main stage.   Every Thursday — rain or shine from 3 to 7pm at Prescott Promenade at 201 East Main Street.     The Market accepts EBT, credit cards, and cash.

City Heights Farmers' Market: Saturdays, 9am to 1pm
This is the county’s first EBT-accessible farmers market. Located in the heart of City Heights, the Market has become the community heart, a vibrant shopping place for ethnic specialty produce and an emerging jobs incubator for City Heights food and farming entrepreneurs.  The City Heights Farmers' Market takes place on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm on Wightman between 43rd and Fairmount (one block south of University).



Fresh Fund
The Fresh Fund provides additional healthy food access to over 8,000 San Diego residents. The Fresh Fund is a match program that incentivizes EBT (food stamps), WIC and SSI recipients to spend their dollars at EBT-accessible farmers’ markets in their neighborhoods. It’s a win-win for local farmers vending in low-income neighborhoods!  Click here to learn more about the Fresh Fund.








IRC Land Bank
The IRC Land Bank is working to connect socially disadvantaged farmers with farmland in nearby communities. These farmers have participated in IRC training programs are in need of more land to expand their new farm businesses. By inviting socially disadvantaged farmers on to your property you will be helping to build self-reliance for underserved populations, keep land in agriculture for future generations, and bring more local fresh, healthy foods to San Diego!



Healthy Food Security and Nutrition

Nutrition education programs ensure that refugees are knowledgeable about nutrition and have access to healthy emergency food.

 Food Justice 
Youth Food Justice
The IRC manages two high school garden programs in City Heights which train youth in urban farming and food justice advocacy through an after-school job-training program.





Urban Agriculture Resources

How to Start a Community Garden in the City of San Diego

Selling Produce in the City of San Diego

For more information, contact

Articles about IRC’s Food Security and Community Health Programs:


City Heights Garden Transports Caretakers
  UT San Diego, May 11, 2012

When the Uprooted Put Down Roots
New York Times, October 9, 2011
Refugee farmers thriving as market vendors at the City Heights Farmers’ Market

SD Community Farm Padlocked
KPBS interview with Maureen Cavanaugh
IRC discussing the importance of community gardens for low-income communities

IRC Website:

IRC Garden Tools Stolen

Local Restaurants Buy Produce from IRC Farmers

IRC Farmers Make Record Sales

Mint Harvest

Urban Farming in the News

IRC Aqua Farm

Michelle Obama Visits New Roots

Back to the IRC in San Diego