Field Note: Opening a Community Fridge in Saticoy, California

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In the absence of a grocery store, the Saticoy Food Hub invites the community to help itself to fresh, healthy food. 

Sitting at the front desk of the Saticoy Food Hub in Saticoy, California, I hear dogs barking in the yard of the auto shop next door, and watch cars zoom past on the one lane road that is at times treated like a highway. The sun is setting — I can see it reflected in the nearby library windows, and the mountains in the distance are bathed purple. 

“Hello. Welcome,” an automated voice chimes as a middle-aged woman walks through the door. “Hola, como estás,” she says, and heads straight for the fridge. “Oh my gosh, you have apples today! And eggs, this is amazing. Thank you so much.” She chatters as she loads her bag with pasta, rice, beans, pancake mix, nuts, an onion, and Cheez-Its (for the kids, of course). At my desk, I chat with young people walking home from the Boys and Girls Club, abuelitas coming to stock up on the basics, older men looking for razors and mac ’n’ cheese, and teenagers on BMX bikes and scooters. They’re excited that their favorite snack is back, or they ask me when we’ll get the apple sauce squeezes again. 

This is the Saticoy Food Hub, which houses a community fridge and is creating a farmers’ market. It was founded in January 2022 by Saticoy resident Sierra Doehr, who grew up in East Ventura. Roughly one year later, we have a four-person staff and three board members. Saticoy, a small unincorporated city in East Ventura county, is a USDA-designated food desert. Most of the residents here are people of color who work in the agricultural sector and/or live below the poverty line. There are no grocery stores within the city, or even within walking distance of the city. The racial and economic disparity of food access between Saticoy and Ventura, only about 10 miles apart, is an example of the food apartheid — food access disparities created and perpetuated by historical patterns of structural racism. Doehr, raised in east Ventura before moving to Saticoy in 2011, is strongly connected to the community and committed to tackling this issue. The Saticoy Food Hub is dedicated to a mission of creating equitable economic opportunities for food producers, while providing fresh, local food to community members.

The Food Hub has had an extremely successful first year and support for our work continues to grow. There is a sense of hope and community, of better days ahead. After earning non-profit status and establishing the community fridge, the Saticoy Food Hub set out to start the farmers’ market. Getting permits and sorting through the changing regulations has been a challenge, but Doehr, always resourceful, reached out to the Social Justice Fund for Ventura County, which responded with funding and pays her a small stipend for her work. The Social Justice Fund put us in contact with Ventura County Supervisor Matt LaVere and together we decided on Saticoy Park as the location for the market. We have just submitted our final permit request and, fingers crossed, will host our Farmers’ Market grand opening in a few short months! 

The Farmers’ Market will have programs, called Veggie Vouchers and Kids Bucks, to effectively double the customer’s spending power and increase revenue for each vendor, and offer music, non-food vendors, even a kids’ zone! 

Saticoy Farmers Market
1279 W Los Angeles Ave., Ventura.
Find us online at saticoyfarmersmarket.org
And follow us on Instagram and Facebook. 

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Hali Hammargren
Hali Hammargren
Hali Hammargren worked as an intern for the Saticoy Food Hub.

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