Among the carrots, cabbage, and collar greens, hope grows in a community garden in Southeastern San Diego and on small farms in rural North County.

Local organizations like the New Village Project and Foodshed are addressing inequalities in the food system by making healthier food more accessible.

“A food system is a complex sequence of things coming together, so we get our food,” said Diane Moss, managing director of the New Village Project. “We have to grow food, we have to distribute food, we have to cook food, we have to consume food, what do we do with waste. Anythings is all about how we approach and treat food like humans. ”

Traditional food systems have historically failed in marginalized communities, Moss said. Many low-income neighborhoods are considered “food swamps”, where there is constant exposure and significantly easier access to low-nutrition foods, resulting in health problems for many residents.

The New Village Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to removing barriers in these communities that hinder access to nutritious food. They manage Mount Hope Community Garden and operate Farmstand, the only farmer market in Southeast Diego that accepts food stamps / EBT, according to the nonprofit organization’s website.

“I think what we are trying to do is work with our communities to change our relationship with food,” Moss said. “We are really encouraging people to cultivate your food, or get to know people who grow your food.”

Foodshed is a black, indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) majority, a farmers-owned cooperative that shares goals similar to Project New Village.

“If we’re going to try to make sure everyone in San Diego has access to fresh and healthy food, then we have to make sure there are two things: that it’s affordable and that it’s accessible,” said Ellee Igoe, a foodshed farmer co-founder.

Debuting in March 2020, Foodshed began with a plan to collect from five farms in North County and distribute food to 60 families in marginalized communities. When COVID-19 struck, the organization saw a need to upgrade its initial plans, adding 27 farms and distributing to 400 families a week, including those in the Pauma Valley and City Heights.

The New Village and Foodshed project will collaborate this fall on a mobile farmers market that aims to increase the availability of healthy foods and encourage people to shop locally in central and southeastern San Diego.

Both organizations want to emphasize the personal responsibility of supporting small-scale climate farms and gardens. Moss sees it as an economic investment in the community.

“If you listen to the news you will hear a lot of negative things about the country where we live from a variety of social lenses, but we need people to know that there are good things happening here,” she said. “Economy, we can do something about it here … there is a part we can play that will be important to move to a better space.”

Jessica M. Arenas is a member of the UT Community Journalism Scholars Program for High School Students.