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L.A.’s Freshest Produce

May 5, 2010

It could seem impossible to find farm-fresh produce in an urban center like Los Angeles, but there are several programs that enable locals to get handpicked produce directly from farmers (without having to go to a crowded farmers’ market) and even ways to grow their own.

Community Supported Agriculture is a way for people to buy fresh produce directly from farms. CSA customers can buy a weekly share of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, who package items to either be picked up from numerous drop off points or deliver these packages straight to the customer’s door.

There are several CSAs that serve the L.A. area, including CSA California and Farm Fresh to You. CSA California was founded a year ago by Sara Paul, who believes in the importance of supporting local farms. The program has 8 pick-up locations throughout Los Angeles, the most recent one being at RAWvolution in Santa Monica.

“We have about 150 people that come and buy a bag of local, organic produce every week,” says Paul. “It’s $25, and $2 goes to school garden and nutrition programs.”

Paul says that she has received lots of positive feedback from CSA California’s customers. “Oh they love it. They love that it’s fresh and it supports local schools and farms.”

Hear from Pilar Law, a first-time CSA California customer, about why she got involved in the program:

Farm Fresh to You brings fresh produce from a family-owned farm in Northern California straight to their customers’ doors. “The business was very successful in Northern California, so they decided to bring the business down to L.A. and it’s been very successful so far,” says Sammy Zamora, warehouse manager at Farm Fresh to You’s Anaheim location. “We launched September 1, 2009 and since that day we’ve been growing tremendously, not just in L.A. County but also Orange County and the Inland Empire.”

Farm Fresh to You now delivers 2,200 meals every week. Zamora attributes the success of this CSA program to several factors: “What sets us apart from the rest of our competitors is we’re an exclusively organic, 100% green company, and our produce is top-notch. And it’s directly delivered to your front door. Others deliver to one spot and customers have to go and pick up their own boxes.”

CSA programs like these benefit not only customers, who get to enjoy both the convenience and quality of their produce, but the farmers as well. “It’s a set order for them,” explains Paul. “We have a hundred people so we order a hundred pounds of things and they come and drop it off. It’s nice because a lot of them are driving from an hour, two hours away, so it’s just solid business for them; it’s solid support.”

“We buy from them, and it helps them financially to sell the product,” says Zamora.

If CSA programs don’t seem fresh enough, Los Angeles residents can grow their own fruits and vegetables, even in the most city-like settings. L.A. is home to over 70 community gardens, located all over the county.

The newest of these gardens is the Venice Community Garden, founded by resident Kip Wood. “I was shocked that Venice didn’t have a community garden,” he says. “Of all the places in L.A., you would think Venice would have one.”

“I developed a passion for growing food, and also I love parks,” says Wood. “I love public places that are beautiful, that people can gather in and lose themselves a little bit. So it’s sort of a combination. I want people to be able to grow their own food, harvest their own food, see the whole process of that, have the kids be involved in that.”

Wood founded the garden in January, and not only have all 50 plots sold immediately, but there is even a 40-person wait list. He feels that everyone innately wants to garden, and is happy that the new community garden will enable more people to do so.

“There’s some intangible quality, there’s a magic that happens, there’s something just about growing that connects with something that’s hard to put your finger on, but just feels good,” he says.

Wood’s garden was inspired by other community gardens, like the Milagro Allegro Community Garden located in Highland Park, which has 10,000 square feet of land and 32 plots.

“I’m a public health nurse and to me this is a really great strategy because it involves changing the physical environment and the social environment,” says Kathleen Smith, who has a plot there. “It does really serve as a social connector for people, so I really like that part, where you get to know other people. I wanted to be a part of it.”

Smith is currently growing green beans, tomatoes, sunflowers, marigolds, yellow squash, and zucchini on her plot. “I’ve always been a gardener,” she says. “I just like that practical aspect of growing food. And it’s just very satisfying to start something from a small pant or seed and see it produce something.“

How about you?

Photo by me

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2010 12:03 pm

    Great post. I don’t live in CA but I love that you’ve researched both CSA and community Gardens. Today is National Public Garden day. Have a great one.

  2. May 7, 2010 9:36 pm

    Thanks so much for your feedback, I’m glad you enjoyed my piece!

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