June 11, 2022

Coastal Roots Farm Brings Tribal Food Sovereignty and Education Programs to the Community

Jess Arroyo, Marketing and Events Coordinator, Coastal Roots Farm 

Coastal Roots Farm is a nonprofit community farm and education center in Encinitas built on land indigenous to the Kumeyaay and Luiseño peoples. The farm has been able to reach far beyond their coastal roots to connect with Indigenous/Native families throughout the county to deliver farm-based educational programs and offer organic food distributions. From May 2021 to March 2022, they were able to donate over 7,500 pounds of fresh, organic fruit, vegetables, herbs, and protein-rich eggs to more than 1,970 individuals through the American Indian Health Center and the Iipay Nation in Santa Ysabel.

“If you want your family to eat well, you have to give them good food,” said Bernice Paipa, Tribal Chairwoman of the Iipay Nation at Santa Ysabel. “When we first started this distribution with the farm, most of the produce you would bring the community had never been seen or tried before. Food truly is medicine and people don’t know that. We are very isolated from the main towns, and it can take up to an hour to get to the grocery store. This requires time and gas, plus it’s hard to get perishable food when it must sit in the car for that amount of time. It is cheaper and easier to eat fast. So, the community is eager for this distribution.”

The food donations included educational resources such as healthy recipes, nutritional information, and storage tips to ensure recipients understand what they are eating and how food plays a critical role in their health. All participants agreed that the food distribution helped their household eat more fresh produce than they would otherwise be able to afford. A majority also reported eating a new vegetable or fruit.

Coastal Roots Farm partners with San Diego tribal communities to:

(1)  Support the building of community gardens on reservations (larger projects at Campo and Santa Ysabel reservations)

(2)  Provide technical training and support to grow food in tribal communities

(3)  Welcome tribal youth, adults, and elders to Coastal Roots Farm for hands-on technical gardening training and farm experiences

(4)  Provide the farm as a space near the coast for tribal communities to gather for their own programs and activities as the First Peoples of this land

Join Coastal Roots Farm for its annual Farm Film & Music series. The first event will take place on June 23rd with the film Gather, which documents the growing movement among Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty. Members of the Campo, San Pasqual, and Santa Ysabel Kumeyaay Reservations will be in attendance for live music and tabling around topics, including identity, sovereignty, and food.

Future films include:

  •       Thursday, July 21 - A Plastic Ocean
  •       Thursday, August 18 - Unbroken Ground
  •        Thursday, September 15 - The Biggest Little Farm
  •       Thursday, October 13 - Fantastic Fungi

About Coastal Roots Farm

Coastal Roots Farm works to foster inclusive spaces for people to come together to connect and learn in ways that catalyze a healthier, more vibrant community and a sustainable future for our region.  They practice organic farming, share their harvest with those who lack access to fresh produce, and deliver farm-based educational programs to the community. The farm engages nearly 15,000 community members in programs, including 6,000 youth who participate in educational programs annually. Each year, they grow and distribute up to 80,000 pounds of food for more than 30,000 individuals. More than half of the food is donated to food insecure populations in the County. At the farm, nobody is turned away for inability to pay.