Ready to know more about San Diego?

Subscribe

How a Small Farm and Café in North Park Helps Refugees Build a New Life

Tune in to Episode 198 of the Happy Half Hour Podcast
Alexandra Steinhaus

By Kayla Wong

Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week’s special guest is Anchi Mei, senior program manager of the International Rescue Committee in San Diego. The IRC is a nonprofit devoted to helping refugees and asylees set down roots and build a new life. Anchi runs its MAKE Projects (Merging Agriculture, Kitchens, and Employment), which include a small working farm, a café, and a culinary program right in the heart of North Park, by St. Luke’s Church. Through the farm and the café, high school students and adults alike can earn an income while learning job-readiness skills. Their catering company, Project CHOP, was created as a transitional employment program to provide their interns and employees—many of them students attending schools in City Heights, and women—the opportunity to “learn by doing.”

Anchi shares that the pandemic forced them to adapt their programs. She and her team turned a vacant lot into Pop on 30th, an outdoor dining spot where they now collaborate with North Park restaurants who can also use the space. They also changed the crops they grow on their small farm—they previously grew specialized vegetables for area restaurants, but have switched to more common produce like zucchini and tomatoes to start a CSA box that the general public can subscribe to, which will help support their programs. While their mission across the board is to help refugee and immigrant communities gain the skills and knowledge to build stability and success in their lives, Anchi believes the benefit goes both ways, because they get to deliver fresh food to the community. Check out their website to make reservations for the café and subscribe to their weekly CSA box.

In Hot Plates, we’ll start with the bad news first: Tiger!Tiger!, a North Park favorite, isn’t going to reopen. Bankers Hill Restaurant and Bar is temporarily closing after September 26, but take heart—it’s not permanent. We end the segment with good news: A new French bakery opened in Pacific Beach. La Clochette du Coin, a café and bakery in La Jolla known for their tartines, opened a second location on Cass Street. The Wise Ox just had their opening in North Park in the space formerly known as The Heart & Trotter. It was purchased by chef Brad Wise, and is a deli and butcher shop rolled into one serving sandwiches along with housemade hot dogs, burgers, and beef fat fries. A new food truck is coming to North Park this weekend. Chef Lauren Lawless, who just won Supermarket Stakeout and will be on Hell’s Kitchen early next year, is launching a tapas food truck, Flawless Cuisine, on Adams Avenue.

For this week’s Two People for Takeout/Two People for $50, Anchi chose the croissants from Wayfarer Bread, and Troy picked his favorite Italian restaurant, Bencotto in Little Italy. They also wanted to give shoutouts to their favorite restaurants in City Heights: The Neighborhood Cafe and Minh Ky Restaurant. David also went with pasta, choosing Cucina Sorella in Kensington, and Marie’s pick to satisfy her mariscos cravings was Oscars Mexican Seafood.

Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Do you have a question for Troy? Need a recommendation for takeout? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you’re too shy, you can email us at [email protected].

MAKE Projects participant Tina Nguyen in the program’s small working farm in North Park

Alexandra Steinhaus

Share this post

LATEST EPISODES

Podcast

Lia's Lumpia Fuses Filipino Cooking with Black Soul Food

Listen now

Podcast

Little Lion’s Chef Learned Everything from Her Grandparent...

Little Lion’s Chef Learned Everything from Her Grandparents

Listen now

Podcast

Actor Martin Short Becomes Mayor of a Food-Obsessed Town

Listen now

Podcast

San Diego’s Best Beer Isn't an IPA

Listen now

Podcast

Javier Plascencia Talks Michelin Stars & Caesar Salad's ...

Javier Plascencia Talks Michelin Stars & Caesar Salad's 100th

Listen now

Podcast

All the Best Eats at the San Diego County Fair

Listen now

Podcast

Cardellino Owner Brad Wise on Truffles, Caviar & Butcher...

Cardellino Owner Brad Wise on Truffles, Caviar & Butchering

Listen now

Podcast

San Diego's King of Produce

Listen now

Podcast

Is this San Diego's Most Picturesque Rooftop Restaurant?

Listen now

Podcast

Trying Petco Park's Best Food with Don and Mud

Listen now

Podcast

SD’s Secret Sommelier Weapon is at North Park’s Black Ra...

SD’s Secret Sommelier Weapon is at North Park’s Black Radish

Listen now

Podcast

Radio Host Chris Cantore & Chef Tyler Mars Launch New Po...

Radio Host Chris Cantore & Chef Tyler Mars Launch New Pop-Up

Listen now

Podcast

Fast Food Secrets With Jordan Howlett

Listen now

Podcast

Feeding San Diego Rescues 1.2M Pounds of Food a Month 

Listen now

Podcast

Making Wishes Come True With Chef William Eick

Listen now

Podcast

The Beach Boys’ Mike Love Puts Us in a Kokomo State of Min...

The Beach Boys’ Mike Love Puts Us in a Kokomo State of Mind

Listen now

Podcast

Lighting Up the Gaslamp 

Listen now

Podcast

The Story Behind San Diego's Hottest Backyard Restaurant

Listen now

Podcast

Is This the Best Falafel in San Diego?

Listen now

Podcast

San Diego’s Legendary Tony Tee Drops By the Pod

Listen now

Podcast

Feeling Lucky with Jason Mraz

Listen now

Podcast

The Spirits Company Giving Back, One Drink At a Time

Listen now

Podcast

Let Us Eat Cake

Listen now

Podcast

Getting Real With Celebrity Chef Lauren Lawless

Listen now

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA