Increasing Food Access in Los Angeles through Sustainable Urban Agriculture
With an aim to transform healthy food access and wellness through people, social enterprise and environmental justice, CultivaLA uses green spaces to empower immigrant and low-income communities across Los Angeles to grow and obtain fresh foods in their neighborhood. Using a community-centered and intergenerational approach, CultivaLA engages, educates and empowers community members from low-income communities to use urban agriculture practices and understand the importance of green spaces in providing fresh and healthy food to the community.
Describe the mission of your organization.
With a mission to transform healthy food access and wellness through people, social enterprise and environmental justice, CultivaLA transforms green spaces across Los Angeles into urban agriculture sites in order to grow fresh herbs and vegetables and to increase food access to Los Angeles’ most vulnerable and under-resourced communities.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
According to the U.S. Economic Census, low-income neighborhoods have two to three times less access to healthy food in their neighborhood. Lack of healthy food options leads to food insecurity, which Feeding America indicates as having serious negative effects on the physical and mental development, academic achievement, and economic futures of youth. Seeing food deserts and food insecurity as social justice issues that disproportionately affect the poorest communities, CultivaLA advocates for the transformation of green spaces across Los Angeles, so they may be used for urban agriculture. Studies find over 25% of California’s population in 2019 identifies as an immigrant, which also makes for an incredible need to support immigrant integration as they are often subjected to racism and relegated to bad, low-wage jobs. As a result, CultivaLA sees urban agriculture as an expression of immigrant agency, with immigrants using homeland seeds and plants to anchor in a new place.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
CultivaLA is a community-driven organization, working directly with cultiva-dores, who use their previous experience in farming from home countries to grow food resources in an urban setting. CultivaLA honors the experiences of immigrant communities and provides opportunities for them to use their skills to bring healthy food to underserved communities. CultivaLA also educates the overall community through urban agriculture workshops and training to promote workforce development, mentorship, and entrepreneurship for youth and adults. These programs are developing, and are aimed at building intergenerational connections, increasing self-efficacy and resilience of low-income communities, and promoting older adult well-being through urban agriculture. In 2020, CultivaLA adjusted its programming to provide an Emergency COVID-19 Grab and Go Produce Distribution, which provided over 90,000 pounds (lbs) of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables to families in the Westlake community, who were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. CultivaLA aims to continue providing free, grab and go food and produce through distributions to combat food insecurity and ensure local communities have access to healthy food during the grant period. CultivaLA currently oversees urban farming at various locations within LA County: Westlake Community Garden, Cesar Chavez Community Garden, St. Teresa of Avila Community Garden, Earthworks Farm, and City of Rosemead Community Wellness Garden.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
We hope our work will provide a place of respite for undocumented, immigrant, and low-income communities, who are often excluded or disregarded in other spaces in Los Angeles. As these groups tend to the garden, they also tend to themselves, as they practice self-care, share their experiences, and recreate intergenerational bonds with others in the community. Through the collective transformation of discarded urban patches of ground into oases of freedom, belonging, and homeland connection, we hope these urban agriculture sites also serve as inspiration and hope, while providing for the food needs of the community through harvesting of herbs and vegetables. Urban agriculture can offer a portal to understanding our social and existential conditions, especially as global migration is fundamental to this region and to the era in which we live. As a result, CultivaLA hopes its mission and programming will best support communities in a variety of ways, today, and in the future.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
As we aim to empower local cultiva-dores and community members to grow fresh herbs and vegetables at our urban garden sites, we will define and measure success via the following objectives: 1) Number of meals or units of fresh food provided to the community through harvesting and distribution activities; 2) Number of participants attending environmental programs/events at urban agriculture sites; 3) Number of individuals reporting a positive experience at urban agriculture sites; and 4) Number of individuals reporting an overall improvement in well-being due to involvement at urban agriculture sites. We will accomplish the aforementioned measurement and evaluation outcomes through registration forms, program surveys (pre/post), and food resource tracking and documentation from vendors and partners. We look forward to providing LA2050 with the outcomes of these metrics at the end of the grant period.
Which of the live metrics will you impact?
- Access to healthy food
- Food insecurity
- Older adult well-being
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT
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