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AmeriCorps Members Honor MLK At City Heights’ New Roots Community Farm

Gardeners at New Roots Community Farm in San Diego's City Heights Community, ...

Photo by Ebone Monet

Above: Gardeners at New Roots Community Farm in San Diego's City Heights Community, Jan. 2020.

Local LISC AmeriCorps members rolled up their sleeves Monday to volunteer at New Roots Community Farm in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

The micro-farm, which was founded more than a decade ago by refugees in San Diego, sits on 2.3 acres of land on 54th Street near Oak Park, in the City Heights community.

Listen to this story by Ebone Monet.

Garden managers say many of the participants were farmers in their home country. However, San Diego's high cost of living prevents many immigrant families from being able to rent or buy property where they can plant gardens. New Roots gives them an opportunity to reconnect with the land.

Luchia Lokonyen, who is one of 80 gardeners with plots at New Roots, said she learned to grow vegetables as a child in the East African country of Uganda.

“If I don’t do it I don’t feel good,” said said. “Now when I have a garden I feel really really good, I feel like I am back in Africa.”

Reported by Ebone Monet , Video by Andi Dukleth

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has managed this garden since 2010. That was the year former First Lady Michelle Obama visited the garden as part of her campaign against childhood obesity. Antonio Cerecedo Figueroa was there that day. He says Obama's visit showed community members that the work they were doing in the garden was important.

“We provide an area where they can harvest and grow and not only show their younger generation of kids and future kids what the roots were in other parts of the world,” Figueroa said.

Also on Monday, City Heights Community Development Corporation (CDC) announced it is taking over management of the garden, which has a nearly 100 person waitlist for a plot of land. The organization’s leaders say the gardeners will continue to keep what they grow and be able to earn money by selling produce at farmers' markets.

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