ARTS DISTRICT, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tucked away on a modest plot of land in the heart of downtown L.A.'s Arts District is an old dirt lot, or at least what used to be one.
Othón Nolasco and Damian Diaz have laid down roots in a cause born out of struggle, growing citrus, pomegranate, herbs and peppers among other things.
It's the next step in growing their nonprofit called No Us Without You.
They founded it in March 2020, shortly after losing work as full-time bar consultants.
"Damian and I, like most of our friends, we're wired differently," said Nolasco.
They realized the families most severely affected by the pandemic are those often overlooked, including undocumented workers who hold jobs most don't want and don't see. They make a living by cleaning, sorting, working in kitchens, and suddenly, they find themselves without food to provide for their own.
"The families that we had just hired for these positions and these restaurants weren't going to have access to any unemployment, even though they paid every week in their paycheck for that right," said Nolasco. "They weren't going to have any support."
Through donations, being able to find food with the help of chef and business partnerships, and more than 100 volunteers delivering it No Us Without You has expanded. The garden will soon function as an event space for fundraising, and plans for the nonprofit will help grow what it provides.
"If they need to make salsa for an event or sell tacos, boom," said Diaz, pointing to an array of plants. "You have like 21 different kinds of chilies here."
Most are replanted from somewhere else - a metaphor not lost on anyone.
"We know what it takes, through our families' stories, to come to this country for any and all reasons to make our lives better," said Diaz. "This is the organization our parents wish they had when they came to this country."
The garden only paints a small picture of the overall need in the community. As of this month, the nonprofit says it feeds 1,600 families per week.
"If we as people go through anything in this pandemic, there's always someone else going through their version but 10 times worse," said Diaz. "It's a constant reminder to keep going."