Locally grown, organic produce is now more readily available and affordable for those who are struggling, thanks to a new farmstand in the North County.
The weekly Farm Stand in Encinitas is run by the non-profit Coastal Roots Farm and has a "pay what you can afford" philosophy.
The Farm Stand sells produce to the public every Thursday from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the farm, located at 441 Saxony Road.
Daron Joffe, known as Famer D, is the founding director of the 67.5 acre property in northern Encinitas, on what used to be the hub of the Ecke Ranch property.
"It's so great, I think, to not just help create a vision, but bring it to life," Joffe told NBC7. "It's superdynamic and an amazing opportunity to do something meaningful."
The farmstand uses "Suggested Donation Pricing." The farm developed its own payment system. Customers are told what the produce cost to produce. the prices are comparable to a traditional farmers' market. But then customers can privately decide what to pay, based on what they afford. The farm also accepts EBT (food stamps).
Coastal Roots Farm is now about a year old and is based after the model of Jewish community farms in other parts of the country.
It was conceived and funded by the Leichtag Foundation. The main goals are not only to produce food for the local community and to model sustainable agriculture, but also to reflect and serve the values of the Jewish community.
"Judaism is deeply rooted in agriculture," Joffe explained. He said an agricultural way of life helps promote social justice, self sufficiency and environmental stewardship.
The Jewish calendar and holidays are connected to the cycle of agriculture, according to Joffe. And that cycle is very similiar in Encinitas and Israel, because both areas have a similiar climate.
"It helps us connect to those rhythms," Joffe explained. The farm also showcases innovative water conservation techniques that have been developed in Israel.
Currently, Coastal Roots Farm donated 80 percent of its produce to local food banks and community organizations, including St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Encinitas, the Hand Up Youth food pantry program and Jewish Family Services.
There are big plans for the future of the farm. They are working to get a grant that would help purchase a refrigerated truck and pop up farmstand so they can go out into the community and reach those most in need. Some of the places they hope to reach include Vista and Camp Pendleton.
Coastal Roots Farm is also looking for additional funding that would allow it to grow more food.