Kesha Dorsey Spoor, Philanthropy and Communications Manager of Coastal Roots Farm

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Coastal Roots Farm

Cultivating Healthy and Connected Communities 

Tomorrow night marks the beginning of the harvest holiday, Shavuot, where we celebrate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. Historically, Shavuot was the time when farmers would bring the first fruits of the season to the Temple. This week, we are featuring Coastal Roots Farm, a not-for-profit Jewish community farm and education center. Coastal Roots integrates sustainable agriculture, food justice, and ancient Jewish wisdom into programs that have collectively donated 150,000 pounds of food to their local communities in the last five years.  

Read our interview below with Philanthropy and Communications Manager Kesha Dorsey Spoor.

What is the mission of your organization?

Coastal Roots Farm cultivates healthy communities by integrating sustainable agriculture, food justice, and ancient Jewish wisdom.

How does Coastal Roots Farm achieve its mission?

Coastal Roots Farm grows and distributes organic produce to people who need it most and brings a diverse community together through Jewish programs and other events. Each year we provide around 40,000 pounds of food to 20,000 low income seniors, active duty military and veterans, families, immigrants and Holocaust survivors. To date we have donated approximately 70% of our harvest. We have a pay-what-you-can Farm Stand that upholds customer dignity and provides access to fresh, organic produce to anybody in the community. The Farm is also a laboratory for Jewish education with a science curriculum where visitors experience firsthand Jewish values and practices in our unique outdoor setting and build community at festivals that mark Jewish agricultural holidays.

How would you connect your organization to a Jewish text, holiday, value or experience?

At Coastal Roots Farm, we are proud to be part of a national movement of Jewish Community Farming and part of a Field Building Initiative which integrates Jewish experiential education with agriculture. Its purpose is to cultivate community, promote environmental sustainability and food justice, foster opportunities for meaningful spiritual engagement and personal growth, and strengthen Jewish life.

Jewish community farms use farming, gardening, and food as a way to teach about Jewish tradition and heritage, build Jewish identity and community, and make the world a more just and sustainable place. At Coastal Roots Farm, values such as Ba’al Taschit (ethical consumption), K’vod Briut (the dignity of all creations), and Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chaim (kind, humane treatment of animals) 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.

What are some non-monetary ways for others to get involved in your organization or cause?

Volunteers (in the San Diego area) help us grow and harvest the produce we provide for the community. You can get your hands dirty three times each week in the vegetable production fields, Education Farm and Gardens, or Food Forest. Private or corporate volunteer opportunities are also available! (If you live outside of Southern California we also have a list of Jewish community farms in the US on our website).

Who or what has inspired you in the work that you are doing?

To us, a "healthy, connected community" is about so much more than nutritious food. I am inspired by Coastal Roots Farm's understanding of health; we engage is social action for a healthy society, bring people together for a healthy community; farm sustainably to contribute to a healthy environment, and live and share Jewish values to nourish our souls. This approach meaningfully nourishes community and makes a real impact in the community. We are so honored to be doing this work.

To learn more about Coast Roots Farm visit https://coastalrootsfarm.org.

Amy Benarroch