Activists Seek Return of L.A.'s Lost Urban Agriculture

With a year-round temperate climate and a history of widespread urban agriculture, it's a shame that Los Angeles now finds itself ranked 43rd amongst America's 50 largest cities for their support of local food. Can L.A. turn back the clock?
June 13, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The good news, according to Willy Blackmore, is that if Los Angeles devoted just 9 percent of its urban land to crops, it could produce enough food to feed its residents. The bad news, for now, is that with only 6,000 acres of land in L.A. County devoted to growing food, the area is about 63,000 acres short of becoming "a self-sustained urban farming mecca."

Blackmore profiles a group of activists that are trying to turn the bad news into good news by pushing, "the city's agricultural policy further into the 21st century-and into the upper ranks of American cities with progressive urban agriculture agendas."

"'We all want to grow food and we want it to be easy,' says Francesca De la Rosa, co-chair of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council's working group to advocate for urban agriculture policy in the city. That would mean limiting bureaucratic hurdles, clarifying the rules, and extending some base-level incentives to urban agriculturalists-from overhauling the city's free compost and mulch giveaway programs to extending the reduced water-usage rate that big agriculture enjoys for smaller edible landscaping and gardening projects."

According to Blackmore, "Activists are also encouraging L.A. to find farming opportunities in its own backyard-the city's underused public parks, city-owned vacant lands, schools, hospital grounds, green spaces between the sidewalk and the street-even its prison yards. To push the issue, L.A.-based edible landscaping outfit Farmscape has launched a stunt campaign to elect the company mayor under a platform to 'bring farms back to the city.'"

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Published on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 in Good
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