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Five Innovative Urban Gardening Programs in Los Angeles

For the first time in the history of the United States, children have lower life expectancies than their parents.

This is bad news. Here is some good news: “Let’s Hear It for Urban Agriculture,” “Mayor’s Agriculture Plan Soon to Bear Fruit,” and “Planners Recommend New Zoning, Lower Tax for Urban Farms.” These are just a few of the headlines that pop up from a Google search for current news on urban agriculture.

The idea is not new, but it’s being resurrected in cities throughout the country (and, for that matter, the world), in part because it’s one way of fighting childhood obesity, which, along with diabetes, is a serious health concern for children of all ages. The number of urban gardens in the United States has grown dramatically in such cities as Los Angeles, Detroit, Milwaukee, and San Francisco, where local governments and residents agree that these gardens are an important way to give children and residents access to healthy food like locally grown fresh produce. Below is a list of innovative programs and initiatives emerging in the Los Angeles area.

Urban Farming Food Chain Project

A partnership between Green Living Technologies and Emslie Osler Architects, this organization constructs “edible” food-producing wall panels and mounts them on buildings. The people who tend these vertical gardens use them for their own purposes (meaning produce is not sold commercially), but they currently have four locations in and around downtown Los Angeles.

Silver Lake Farms

Launched in 2004, Silver Lake Farms just began a Community Supported Agriculture program offering subscribers a weekly box of fresh produce, grown locally in Silver Lake. They also hold workshops on how to start your own vegetable garden, and sponsor a volunteer program that connects urban residents with local farms, community gardens, and homesteads to help out with some of the work.

Market Makeovers

Responding to poor access to fresh fruits and vegetables in their communities, South Los Angeles’s Healthy Eating, Active Communities initiative and Public Matters have teamed up to engage young people and convert corner stores into sources of healthy foods via an online toolkit.

Urban Homestead, Pasadena

An advocacy group for self-sufficient city living via farming and homesteading, this family-owned operation was started in the mid-1980s on a one tenth of an acre backyard plot. Most of the produce is sold to local restaurants and caterers.

Urban Farming Advocates

Formed in June 2009, Urban Farming Advocates is a group of individuals, small business owners, and organizations seeking to legalize urban farming in the City of Los Angeles. Their goal is to revise outdated ordinances that restrict people's freedom to use residential land for urban agriculture.

What sort of urban farming initiatives are going on in your community?

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