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In 2009 CAUSE organizers worked with residents in Santa Paula to identify the lack of access to healthy food as an important issue in their community. Embracing the idea of food justice the group, called Vecinos Unidos, imagined a number of community gardens on publicly owned land, to be run by residents, as a way to promote healthier eating options, while empowering the community to produce their own food. Initially the group focused on the local school board, urging them to adopt a policy to allow community gardens on unused school district land. That idea was met with much resistance from the superintendent.
Out of those efforts, a resident offered part of their private property for use as a community garden. had our initial crop during the Summer of 2011 and are in preparation for the fall garden.
The emerging leaders of Vecinos Unidos continue also organize and advocate for healthier school meals and participate on the school district wellness committee to encourage both healthier eating among students and to promote school and community gardens in Santa Paula..