Growing vegetables in the desert is not for the faint of heart. “You’re creating an oasis for animals,” says Sofia Forier-Montes, manager of Felicia’s Farm. “There’s nothing worse than an entire bed of seedlings getting decapitated by a hungry rat.” Forier-Montes and her staffers and volunteers also brave 100-plus-degree days in order to raise 200 pounds of produce every week. Then, they give it all away.
Founded in 2010 by local accountant David S. Cutler to honor his late wife, Felicia, the four-acre operation donates its entire harvest to the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, where the just-picked carrots, broccoli, squash, and more are divided into grocery bags and handed out to the needy. “I try to focus on crops people will really cook,” Forier-Montes says. “We have the privilege of Googling recipes for vegetables we aren’t familiar with, but not everyone has access to that kind of information.”
Eventually, the 27-year-old hopes to buy her own farm, but she’s relishing the chance to gain on-the-ground experience, especially at a nonprofit: “Twice a week, I pull into the food kitchen in a big Chevy truck full of veggies, and there’s always such a positive reaction. Those deliveries are by far the most rewarding part.”