The World Beat Cultural Center is one of Balboa Park’s most treasured spots. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, present and preserve both African and Indigenous cultures. They do this through unique events surrounded by music and dance, educational classes, delicious food and displays within the center.
The World Beat’s goal is to help raise the collective conscious throughout the community to help promote peace. They have a fantastic garden with programs aimed towards educating the youth and feeding the community. Their main goal is to create unity within diversity.
Once you step inside, be ready to be transported into another world! Every inch of this place is bursting with artwork and culture and love. The murals you will see were created by local artists (the Egyptian mural was painted by my buddy Anh Pham), commemorating important leaders and historical cultures.
There are multiple galleries with locally sourced goods, artwork and artifacts. Flags from all nations fly from the ceiling over the dance floor which has hosted hundreds of famous and upcoming acts, artists, and events.
The World Beat Cultural Center that we know today was actually once a 1 million gallon water tower. It was later repurposed and revitalized with founder Makeda ‘Dread’ Cheatom who was at the forefront of the vision. Over 30 years later, the center continues to thrive and expand.
You absolutely MUST try their food at least once in your life. Yes, everything is vegan, but even if you you don’t eat a strict plant-based diet, trust me and try their food. Many of the ingredients are picked fresh from their organic garden every day. Food just tastes SO much better when it’s just been picked from the vine.
We watched them go out to the garden and harvest a bunch of the ingredients in our meals and drinks right in front of us! They even have a moringa tree which I had never seen before! Check out the menu with photos here.
The garden is here teach teach anyone with a willingness to learn about the role of plants in society today, while also learning the relationship of plants in the local and global indigenous cultures of the past.
In 2015, in coalition with the local Kumeyaay, the World Beat Center embarked on a multi-level terraced garden of endemic and indigenous plants that are part of the Kumeyaay lasting traditions.
The unique organic herb, fruit, and vegetable garden honors the memory of George Washington Carver, and is dedicated to teaching young people about the role of plants in society.
Gardening classes are available to schools, youth programs, individuals and families by booking a workshop or requesting a docent at the World Beat Center
Not only was our delicious meal cooked by Makeda herself, but we even got to enjoy our meal with her!
Makeda also gave us a tour of the Children’s Ethnobotany Peace Garden: