(center), a volunteer with the Los Angeles-based South Central Farmers
, talks to a group of fellows from the California Endowment Health Journalism fellowship Nov. 19 at the Watts neighborhood farmers market in Los Angeles.
has seen people who don't know where food comes from.
The nearest access to vegetables for the Los Angeles residents she
works with is at corner markets, and the foods are not fresh, she
The kids she
works with have never seen farmland or even a corn stalk.
feels kind of privileged for how she
grew up, on a farm her
father owned in the Westmorland area off the West Main Canal.
Early on she
learned the importance of the land.
"I knew no other life than having a relationship with the land and being able to eat off the land," she
The former Westmorland resident is using the skills she
learned as a child growing up in Imperial County to help feed those in a food desert in South Central Los Angeles.
is a volunteer with South Central Farmers
, a group that grew out of a 14-acre community garden in Los Angeles.
Controversy surrounded the area when the land was sold and the residents and farmers of that garden were evicted.
The story is the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary, "The Garden," directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy that Juarez
herself was part of.
Juarez first moved to Los Angeles after graduating with a master's degree in public administration from Bernard M. Baruch College in New York.
received a national rural fellowship to look into traffic congestion issues.
She began volunteering with South Central Farmers in 2003 after teaching a group of children where corn comes from.
started spending her
weekends volunteering at the garden before the eviction notice came down.
Through years of protests and heated exchanges, the group was eventually able to get an 80-acre plot of land in Bakersfield and trucks in fresh food to the South Central Los Angeles area.
is now working to advocate for healthy eating through the Health and Education portion of the cooperative.
wants people to move away from packaged food and be conscious of what they eat.
"I think that's where change happens," she
is still living by the lessons her
parents taught her
works with her
brothers and sisters to raise grass-fed cows in Imperial County, she
The family grows the plant - Sudan grass in the summer and ryegrass in the winter - to feed the few heads of cattle they have.
spends some of her
weekends in the Valley working with the animals that allow her
to eat more naturally-made foods, she
It's small now, with only family and a few friends participating, but that's how projects like it start.
The whole experience has brought her
back to what she
learned as a child.
never thought she
'd go into farming like her
family, but now it's become a passion of hers, she said.
knows how important it is to continue that family tradition.