According to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Los Angeles is home to a bustling economy with one of the largest populations in the United States. Yet 1.4 million people (14 percent of our county’s residents) experience food insecurity. With thousands of empty plots of land sitting vacant and unused, how can this be? Thankfully, several L.A.-based organizations are working hard to turn food deserts into urban community gardens. As a result, making healthy foods accessible to thousands of people who would not have them otherwise. If you love gardening and giving back, grab the kids and family and dig in!
Urban Community Gardens #1 FARM LA
Fueled by their passion for urban gardening and their desire to give back, Jason Wood and Emily Gleicher created Farm LA. Its mission is re-purposing land to grow gardens and nutritious food for those in need. Today they have successfully implemented 10 mini-farms. They show residents how to create their own gardens on a shoestring budget utilizing public sidewalks. Furthermore, Gleicher and Wood helped to pass a new Incentive Zone Act. A bill in Los Angeles that gives landowners tax breaks for converting unused property to urban farming. With all the resources of a city with plenty, “hunger doesn’t have to exist here in L.A.,”says Gleicher. farmla.org
Siena Mills was just a high school freshman in 2015 when she was shocked and saddened to learn in a nutrition class about the statistics of hunger and the lack of nutrition and food deserts in some of L.A.’s poorest neighborhoods. Mills founded the non-profit organization Flourish and partnered with existing organizations to reach more people and communities.
For starters, the organization is focused on supporting communities that have limited access to fresh produce. They grow gardens, provide tools to grow food and promote nutritional knowledge. She currently has eight gardens. Due to it being one of the largest public housing developments in the city, the one at Nickerson Gardens is a particular point of pride. “This location has a real community feeling and is maintained by the residents,”explains Mills. Asked how she feels about making an impact at such a young age, Mills remains humble. “It’s not that difficult to make a difference—if everyone did a little something to make the world a better place we would all be better off.” flourish4ever.com
#3 LA GREEN GROUNDS
Green Grounds is a grassroots organization of volunteers who put edible gardens in the food deserts of South Central LosAngeles. Started in 2010 by Florence Nishida, Vanessa Voblis and Ron Finley (also known as“The Guerilla Gardener”), LA Green Grounds utilizes front lawns and parkways. Also they are building a sense of community by hosting “Dig-Ins”where volunteers, family and friends pitch into build each garden. This encourages those in the neighborhood to maintain them and grow their own food. With more than 30 gardens successfully planted, they have truly made an impact. Not only are they adding these gardens to neighborhoods in need but also teaching the residents gardening techniques and skills. lagreengrounds.org