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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
New Roots Aqua Farm
The New Roots Aqua Farm showcases creative, productive growing methods including a 1,200 square foot aquaponics system that employs a closed-loop cycle of tilapia farming with hydroponic vegetable growing. The tilapia are sustainably-raised and hormone-free. The Aqua Farm is also a small incubator farm that gives entrepreneurial residents additional space to grow while they solidify their farming enterprises. New Roots growers sell at the City Heights Farmers’ Market weekly!
City Heights Community and Remedy Garden
The City Heights Community and Remedy Garden is located in the heart of City Heights with 16 gardening plots for community residents and an herbal medicinal garden. Classes and workshops in traditional, herbal healing techniques are regularly offered.
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.
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.
For more information, contact Anchi.Mei@Rescue.org
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