Gardeners come together at Creek to Bay

Today, we would like to highlight yet another amazing Creek to Bay site captain team! Recently, our Development and Marketing Coordinator, Sarah, sat down with Kaley, a Community Health Specialist from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who helps lead the New Roots Community Farm program. Read on to learn more about how this diverse group of community members have come together to do much more than pick up litter.

IRC logoFirst, let’s start with a little background; what does the IRC do? The International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides health care, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people from around the world whose lives and livelihoods have been uprooted due to conflicts and disasters. Every year, the IRC resettles thousands of refugees in 22 U.S. cities, including San Diego, in efforts to help people, “survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” (
One of their most popular programs, the New Roots Community Farm, helps promote food security for approximately 90 refugee families who reside in the City Heights area. Each family has a plot where they plant, maintain and harvest food that they bring home to their families. They even have a booth at the City Heights Farmer’s Market each Saturday, as well, where farmers can sell their produce to bring in extra income for their families. 
But the IRC’s reach doesn’t stop there. About three years ago, the New Roots team was introduced to ILACSD through a combined partnership with Ground Works San Diego – Chollas Creek and Linda Pennington; both of which are longstanding ILACSD supporters and advocates for the well-being of City Heights and Chollas Creek. Their collaboration was a natural fit because a portion of Chollas Creek, a 32 mile natural waterway and drainage system, runs along the backside of the New Roots Community Farm. Unfortunately, the creek has been known to attract illegal dumping and litter so when it rains those pollutants move downstream impacting several neighborhoods along the way.
Linda Pennington at last year's Creek to Bay cleanup!
When asked, “What motivated your team to volunteer as site captains?” Kaley replied, without hesitation, “The free dumpster” which may seem like a comedic response but she further explained that ILACSD’s support, training and cleanup materials were great incentives to join. Additionally, her team was motivated by the fact that having pollution near a growing garden is not only unsightly, but could eventually lead to health issues. Thanks to this collaboration, the team at New Roots Community Farm now hosts quarterly cleanups in addition to their involvement with Creek to Bay and Coastal Cleanup Day, ensuring a healthy and safe garden for all to enjoy!

IRC garden - site capt blog
The New Roots Community Farm located in City Heights is located on a 2 1/2 acre lot and provides 90 families with individual plots to feed their families.

Ensuring safe food is not the only focus for this cleanup site.  Although 90 families have plots at the garden, they often don’t see one another. Creek to Bay helps bring together one of San Diego’s most diverse communities, consisting of about dozens of different cultures and ethnicities, to enhance their local environment. It also provides them with a safe outlet to explore areas outside of the gardens. Since being introduced to I Love A Clean San Diego, volunteers have developed a native plants garden, walking paths, and removed pollutants from the creek bed. Above all else, the garden and Creek to Bay has helped to provide the gardeners with a greater connection to their new home in San Diego.

Join Kaley and her team at the New Roots Community Garden cleanup site in City Heights or choose from our other 105 sites at!

A Day with San Diego’s Junior Lifeguards

jr lifeguards2
Here I am demonstrating how storms push litter into into the oceans

Today’s blog post comes from our Environmental Educator, Monica Rosquillas, who is well-equipped to handle groups of enthusiastic kids armed with squirt bottles.

This past Tuesday we spent a fun-filled day at beautiful Mission Bay with the San Diego Jr. Lifeguards. The occasion marked this year’s second Environmental Day Fair hosted by Think Blue for this group of ocean-loving kids. ILACSD held two of the eight booths at the event; the Recycle Relay and the Watershed Model. Recycle Relay is always a hit. First off, ILACSD environmental educators go over the different types of waste and their proper disposal. Most kids were surprised to hear that disposable paper cups aren’t recyclable!  After the short recycling lesson, the Jr. Lifeguards use their waste disposal knowledge to compete in a fast and wet relay race (both the Jr. Lifeguards and ILACSD love this event). Our second booth, the watershed model, is an interactive presentation that demonstrates how non-point sources of pollution like litter and dog poop make their way from our streets to the storm drain system and natural waterways and end up polluting our bays and beaches. This presentation is really fun and eye opening; kids see first-hand how pollution travels, and they understand why we have to wait at least three days after a storm to go back in the water. It was a long day in the sun, but we had a blast and can’t wait until next year!

jr lifeguards
Who knows the answer? “Meeeeeeee!”