Samuel & Daniela Mejia, Community Farmers, Imperial Beach Community Garden, Imperial Beach
“Hi, I’m Samuel.
I got a job after culinary school and was focusing on trying to do as much cooking as I could, trying to get in more experience. So I started working for a temp agency and they were sending me all over the place just working pretty much nonstop 40 hours a week, sometimes 60. It was pretty fun working different jobs, but during all that, it would just kind of gross me out in a way. Like all the nasty stuff that you see in restaurants and chain foods.”
“It just wasn’t the way that I wanted to live so I decided to take an approach to see where my food came from and that’s when I realized that not everything that grows, grows the right way or grows the way that it should. In order to feed a population, you have to grow things like this. There was just a lot that I was putting on other people’s plates and I was consuming that just wasn’t making me feel good and wasn’t helping me and my body to harmonize. A big step that I decided to take was to step out of the kitchen and actually find out where my food was coming from. So that’s how I really got involved in farming.”
“There’s a lot that we don’t understand about eating seasonably or eating what’s local. There’s a difference between a mango that comes all the way across the ocean and something that grows here. There’s a big difference in the carbon footprint.”
“It really starts with us and when we discover the benefit of eating healthy and growing our own food, that’s when we can share with other people the joy it brings and the difference that it makes in your pocketbook as well as in your body. It also changes the nutrition and energy that you’re projecting directly to the food. We really have to be thankful for our farmers because it’s a lot of work.”
“It’s something that not a lot of people can do because it takes time and effort and really a lot of passion because it’s just really hard nowadays, especially with all the stuff that’s going on and plants that are being modified and pests are becoming more resistant. There’s bugs now that we haven’t had here before. They’re destroying crops and trees. It’s getting a lot tougher, but we’re working through it by keeping varieties that do well and have thrived in these soils before and that’s the way we’re making it work right now.”
“Hi, I’m Daniella.
I’m going to school for business management and I’m self employed as a massage therapist. I have the whole home life, but it consists of taking care of my home and taking care of my family. But being here, being in the garden as well instead of being in the house and watching TV. I need to be outside. I need to be working and hey, guess what? I don’t have to spend all this money at the store because I can grow it. Now that I have my daughter it becomes even more important because she’s going to live a different childhood than I did. I’m very interested in seeing how that forms, how she will form and pick blueberries from the bush and blackberries from the vine. She loves it. She loves it. Now she knows the difference between eating a white strawberry and eating a red strawberry. She used to not let anything grow. She just wanted to eat it all.”
“I really appreciate this garden because I get to see so many different growing techniques because there are so many different cultures here. There are people from Vietnam. There are people from Guam, from the Philippines, from Mexico. There are people from the Midwest, and they all have different growing styles. Some people keep to themselves because not everyone speaks the language they are comfortable with. They keep to themselves, but you can see – and you can see everything that they harvest, that they eat, everything that they grow.”
“Especially the islanders. Just farming is something completely completely natural to them. They come with bags and bags and they leave with bags full of leaves. Things that you’re like, ‘Oh, you can eat that? Oh, you can eat squash leaves? You can eat Chayote leaves? Oh that’s funny. I just eat the fruit.’ ‘Oh, well we eat the fruit and we eat the leaves too. And celery, we don’t eat just the tops. We eat the roots too. Or the bananas. Oh, no. We don’t wait for the bananas. We actually eat the flower.’ So for us it’s completely new information that we wouldn’t otherwise know.”
“Before I started completely relying on what I was growing, I used to price shop in stores and see where I could find the cheaper stuff. I became aware that organic food was not all that expensive. It’s just a matter of where you buy it. There are some areas, some stores that don’t sell, so you get things extremely cheap. But there’s nothing compared to growing it yourself, of course. What you’re not paying in the store, you’re putting as effort into the land. There’s a lot of reward that comes through that, but I think organic food is accessible to everyone. Everyone. It’s just a matter of what you choose.”