Rooted in Community
Located on approximately 17 acres of land in Encinitas, complete with vegetable production fields, education farm and gardens, a food forest, chickens, and compost operations, Coastal Roots Farm works to bring communities together through healthy food, sustainable agriculture, food justice, and ancient Jewish wisdom. The Farm grows and distributes organic produce to those in need, provides hands-on education and experiences for students, produces family-friendly community events throughout the year, and much more. Join us as we speak with Coastal Roots Farm Executive Director Javier Guerrero to learn more.
Q&A with Javier Guerrero, Coastal Roots Farm Executive Director
Please give us a brief history of Coastal Roots Farm. When was it founded and why?
Coastal Roots Farm started as a program of the Leichtag Foundation in 2014. In response to research about the growing desire from Jewish and interfaith families in North San Diego County to connect to inspiring Jewish experiences, the Farm was born as an educational space for community connection. The Farm became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity in winter 2015, opened its Farm Stand and launched mobile distribution in summer of 2016, and is currently growing its educational offerings including Farm Camp, school and group visits, and other programs.
What is the overall mission of Coastal Roots Farm?
Coastal Roots Farm cultivates healthy, connected communities by integrating sustainable agriculture, food justice, and ancient Jewish wisdom.
How is the farm involved in the community?
We share organic produce with those who need it most and connect people to compelling Jewish ideas and traditions through farming and food. We distribute food through our on-site pay-what-you-can Farm Stand, pop-up no-cost mobile Farm Stands, and direct donations to hunger relief organizations. We also offer hands-on education and experiences through our school and group visits, Farm Camp, farm tours, volunteer opportunities, Jewish agricultural festivals, and other community events, which invite our neighbors to connect to the land, Jewish tradition, and each other.
At-A-Glance | Coastal Roots Farm
Which communities does the farm serve?
Since our inception in 2014, we have distributed approximately 150,000 pounds to the community through our on-site pay-what-you-can Farm Stand, pop-up farm stands at Vista Community Clinic and Camp Pendleton, a produce delivery program for Holocaust survivors and their families, and direct donations to local hunger relief organizations. Our community partners include St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Community Resource Center, Kitchens for Good, Helping Hand Worldwide, Mercy Housing, and Jewish Family Service. To date, approximately 70 percent of our harvest has been donated to community members that need it most. Our vibrant, welcoming community is made up of people of all identities. Community members of all backgrounds and abilities are invited to join us for experiences on the Farm.
What is your current role within the organization? Please elaborate on your specific responsibilities.
As the executive director, my role is to maximize the organization’s mission, vision, and impact in the community, building and supporting our Farm team to achieve our impact, and ensure the financial sustainability and efficient business operations. The success of the Farm, just as with any nonprofit or business, is to have clear focus on purpose, the problems we are solving, and the plan for how we are going to get it done. As a nonprofit, we are highly dependent on fundraising and financial contributions to achieve our impact and meet our goals. Working alongside our team, one of my key roles is to see how we can partner with individuals, businesses, foundations, and government to raise the funds needed to support our impact.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
I really enjoy all the people I get to work with each day here at the Farm and in the community. Overseeing a nonprofit requires listening to understand what allows you to connect the dots and see where the collaborations can happen. I also enjoy connecting our impact in the community with peoples’ passions, whether it’s around food justice, education, supporting Jewish life, or a combination of all three.
At-A-Glance | Executive Director
Name: Javier Guerrero
Community: San Diego
Education: BA from University of San Diego in Anthropology; MA from Northern Arizona University in Applied Cultural Anthropology; Business Certificate from UCSD in Business Management and Leadership
Family: Wife and two children
Hobbies and Interests: Surfing, sailing, camping/backpacking, travel, soccer, art, and photography
Favorite Places to Visit in Encinitas: All the surf spots and beaches, Lofty Coffee, GOODONYA Organic Eatery, Sabor de Vida, and so many great restaurants and shops along the 101
Tell us about the farm’s integration of Jewish agricultural practices and traditions.
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.
Are there any upcoming events the community should know about?
Join us for our free family-friendly Great Outdoors Shabbat series on Fridays June 7, July 12, Aug. 2, and Sept. 6 from 5 – 7:30 p.m. Bring a picnic dinner and blankets or chairs. We provide the music, crafts, and ambiance!
Also save the date for our annual Sukkot Harvest Festival on Sunday, Oct. 20. Sukkot is a Jewish holiday that gathers the community outdoors to celebrate the end of an abundant summer harvest and to usher in “the season of our joy.” Together, we will enjoy local food and live music, participate in farm tours and learning workshops, and play in the Kid’s Zone.
What are the farm’s short-term and long-term goals?
The Farm’s goals include: (1) significantly increase the number of school and group visits with curriculum and hands-on programs for pre-K through grade 8, as well as opportunities for high school and college-age youth to visit and experience the Farm; (2) continue to offer community programs and events for children and families, the largest being our Sukkot Harvest Festival on Oct. 20 with over 1,000 people attending; and (3) expand our growing areas on the Farm, especially with our 8.5-acre Food Forest, as we demonstrate regenerative organic farming practices to show people more sustainable ways to grow food while taking care of the land and soil.
What’s in store for the future of Coastal Roots Farm?
The future of Coastal Roots Farm is to expand its multifaceted role as a production farm providing hands-on learning experiences for schools, groups, children, and families, and as a gathering space for community and Jewish life that welcomes people from all backgrounds.
How can the community support Coastal Roots Farm?
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity and partnership of our supporters. You can support our impact in one of the following ways: donate to support our food distribution, school and group visits, and/or Jewish life initiatives; become a Farm Founders Circle member; become a corporate partner; sponsor a program or event; attend an event or shop at our Farm Stand; and volunteer your time. To learn more, visit coastalrootsfarm.org/support.
If you could grant your organization one wish, what would it be?
Although we grow a lot of food at Coastal Roots Farm, around 40,000 pounds per year, I would wish the Farm could grow that much more fresh, organic, nutrient-rich produce to benefit the thousands of people in our region affected by food insecurity.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
We hope people will check out our website and see all we offer for the community…and be sure to come check out our pay-what-you-can Farm Stand on Thursdays and Sundays! Also, please see our website if you or your business would like to support the Farm as a Farm Founder supporter or a corporate partner.