Eileen Levinson, Founder & Creative Director
Wendy Jackler, Program Manager
Coastal Roots is a Jewish community farm and education center in Encinitas. We grow and share healthy food, reimagine ideas about sustainability and Jewish expression, and inspire people and communities around the world to think in new ways about how they eat, live, and connect.
Rooted in Jewish values and centuries-old agricultural traditions, Coastal Roots gives North County’s growing Jewish population meaningful ways to explore and engage with Jewish life. Judaism is at its core an agricultural tradition, with our key holidays, celebrations and rituals following the rythms of planting, harvesting and rejuvinating the land. Judaism’s foundational practices of justice and charity link to practices of sharing the harvest with the poor, the hungry and the stranger. The following Jewish values guide our farming practices, programs and curricula:
Ba’al Taschit: Ethical consumption
Shmittah: Honoring natural cycles of the earth
Peah: Lining the corners of one’s field with food for the stranger and poor
Kayamut: Ecological sustainability
Ma’aser: Reserving at least one-tenth of one’s agricultural produce for the poor
K’vod Briut: The dignity of all creations
Hachnasat Orchim: Welcoming guests
Haganat Ovdim: Fair treatment of those who work the fields
Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chaim: Kind, humane treatment of animals
Tikkun Olam: Healing the world
The Farm is distinctly Jewish, and strengthening Jewish life is one of our goals. However, the Farm’s audiences aren’t all Jewish,and even those that are may not be overtly (or primarily looking for a stronger connection to Jewish life. Our approach is to be proud and straightforward about the farm’s Jewish grounding, without that being the lead or primary message in every situation.
Coastal Roots Farm lives out this wisdom in applied ways, to create experiential education around Jewish agricultural traditions. For example, we have started a Food Forest inspired by Pe’ah that will provide accessible trails of fruit gleaning opportunities for those in need. During the shmita year, we honor the practice by not growing in the ground, by letting the land rest, and providing educational experiences around the social justice issues that Shmita is built upon.
Though we are still in our infancy as an organization, Coastal Roots Farm established a “Theory of Change” to allow us to evaluate and monitor our goals and its social impact. Our theory of change is "using Farm-based activities to build a vibrant center for Jewish agriculture-related education and integration, as well as for Jewish engagement in local and regional community life."
We have seen survey after survey of attendees of the farm telling us that a Jewish community farm is bringing families closer to its Jewish community. Coastal Roots Farm was established because our region of San Diego has a large community of Jews traveling through their lives with non-Jewish partners. Our farm allows a low barrier engagement for people looking to connect with their Jewish identities.
We have learned that living out these Jewish values and witnessing them in practice is a huge driver of our success.
When people at the Farm talk about getting their hands dirty, they’re not being figurative. The Farm engages not just the mind and the spirit, but also the body. The farm evokes all five senses—sight, sound, smell, touch, taste.
Learning about shmita is not the same as walking through fallow field and taking a foraging tour, and discussing the social justice issues.
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