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Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas donated and distributed more than 30,000 pounds of food to food-insecure families last year. File photo
ColumnsJano's Garden

Jano’s Garden: A farm for all in Encinitas

More than 30,000 pounds of vegetables, fruit, herbs and eggs! That is how much food was donated and distributed by Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas last year, to food-scarce families and community throughout San Diego County and regions beyond.

Kesha Dorsey Spoor, Director of Philanthropy, Program Strategy and Communications explained, “We are proud to be part of a what is a much larger global movement for environmental sustainability. This is our humble contribution to a larger food system.

“We are committed to serve those who are food insecure in a dignified manner. We have many groups who are served and our food delivery team is working four days each week to deliver over 30,000 pounds a year.

“One of the groups that we are very proud to serve is 26 families in the San Diego area who are Holocaust survivors. It is our privilege to make these deliveries door-to-door, and to serve our cherished elders, many of whom are food insecure.”

A second group that is served by Farm Distribution Manager Garth Denton-Borhaug and his farm team is the Vista Community Clinic.

According to Hermenia Ledesma from VCC, “The immigrants and refugees who come to the weekly food distribution are thankful to have a reliable source for food access.

Stephanie Ortez, who works at the Coastal Roots Farm Stand, began her interest in public service at VCC. “I started out at the Vista Community Clinic but now I work at Coastal Roots at the farm stand and as part of the food delivery team. We deliver to senior centers, Community Resource Centers, military bases and as far as Santa Ysabel, home of the Iipay Nation.”

The farm stand, open Thursday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m., has a “pay-as-you-can” policy that is discreetly processed at the cash register.

When I visited the farm stand, Stephanie waited on me and when she rang up my sale, she said in a very pleasant manner, “How much would you like to pay today?”

The other young women, who were filling the stand with freshly harvested produce, are all interested in farming and educating the public. Victoria Lapidus, Emma Tuttleman-Kriegler and Cleo Person all hope to further their education in agriculture and community service.

In a time when many teens and young adults often seem glued to their cellphones and computers, it was such a breath of fresh air to meet these young women who were finding a way to incorporate their love of service with hands-on gardening into their lives.

The young farm staff I interviewed reminded me of the members of the New York State 4-H Youth Clubs who I worked with while I was serving as Director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program in Cooperstown, New York.

It was my pleasure to judge a 4-H Animal Husbandry project, held each summer in Cooperstown. The youngsters had spent the year raising their bunnies, pigs and sheep to display at the State Fair. Each participant received ribbons, but the grand prize was a baby goat that my neighbor had donated to the group.

Baby goats and bunnies might not be pets that children can raise in suburban North County, but parents and grandparents can certainly introduce their children to the joys of farming and raising animals at Coastal Roots events and children’s classes.

According to its website, “Coastal Roots Farm is a ‘living Jewish farm,’ making practices that are thousands of years old relevant lessons for today. These practices inform how we grow produce, share belongings, treat neighbors, observe the passing of time, celebrate and improve, care for plants and animals, and create a vibrant, welcoming community. All of this makes Coastal Roots Farm a Jewish farm for everyone.”

Recently, Javier Guerrero, president and CEO of Coastal Roots, received the 2021 Fran Aleshire Leadership Award, which goes to a graduate of the Leadership North County Alumni Network program at Cal State San Marcos.

At Coastal Roots Farm, Guerrero has built a team to increase equitable educational programming, introduced internships and after-school programs, and overseen a 35% increase in production to distribute food to more than 30,000 marginalized community members annually.

For information regarding events, children’s camps, virtual visits and numerous family events, visit or contact Megan Freeman at 760-479-6505. The Farm Stand is located at 441 Saxony Road in Encinitas.

Jano Nightingale is a horticulturist, and former Director of the Cornell Master Gardener Program in Cooperstown, New York. She lives in Vista, where she gardens with her son and teaches gardening classes in North County. She can be reached at [email protected]