Today, we would like to highlight yet another amazing Creek to Bay site captain team! Recently, our Development and Marketing Coordinator, Sarah, sat down with Kaley, a Community Health Specialist from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who helps lead the New Roots Community Farm program. Read on to learn more about how this diverse group of community members have come together to do much more than pick up litter.
First, let’s start with a little background; what does the IRC do? The International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides health care, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people from around the world whose lives and livelihoods have been uprooted due to conflicts and disasters. Every year, the IRC resettles thousands of refugees in 22 U.S. cities, including San Diego, in efforts to help people, “survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” (www.rescue.org)
One of their most popular programs, the New Roots Community Farm, helps promote food security for approximately 90 refugee families who reside in the City Heights area. Each family has a plot where they plant, maintain and harvest food that they bring home to their families. They even have a booth at the City Heights Farmer’s Market each Saturday, as well, where farmers can sell their produce to bring in extra income for their families.
But the IRC’s reach doesn’t stop there. About three years ago, the New Roots team was introduced to ILACSD through a combined partnership with Ground Works San Diego – Chollas Creek and Linda Pennington; both of which are longstanding ILACSD supporters and advocates for the well-being of City Heights and Chollas Creek. Their collaboration was a natural fit because a portion of Chollas Creek, a 32 mile natural waterway and drainage system, runs along the backside of the New Roots Community Farm. Unfortunately, the creek has been known to attract illegal dumping and litter so when it rains those pollutants move downstream impacting several neighborhoods along the way.
When asked, “What motivated your team to volunteer as site captains?” Kaley replied, without hesitation, “The free dumpster” which may seem like a comedic response but she further explained that ILACSD’s support, training and cleanup materials were great incentives to join. Additionally, her team was motivated by the fact that having pollution near a growing garden is not only unsightly, but could eventually lead to health issues. Thanks to this collaboration, the team at New Roots Community Farm now hosts quarterly cleanups in addition to their involvement with Creek to Bay and Coastal Cleanup Day, ensuring a healthy and safe garden for all to enjoy!
Ensuring safe food is not the only focus for this cleanup site. Although 90 families have plots at the garden, they often don’t see one another. Creek to Bay helps bring together one of San Diego’s most diverse communities, consisting of about dozens of different cultures and ethnicities, to enhance their local environment. It also provides them with a safe outlet to explore areas outside of the gardens. Since being introduced to I Love A Clean San Diego, volunteers have developed a native plants garden, walking paths, and removed pollutants from the creek bed. Above all else, the garden and Creek to Bay has helped to provide the gardeners with a greater connection to their new home in San Diego.
Join Kaley and her team at the New Roots Community Garden cleanup site in City Heights or choose from our other 105 sites at www.CreektoBay.org!