Growing a Healthy Los Angeles

submission by jbeals.lacgc
Growing a Healthy Los Angeles

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

Los Angeles Community Garden Council

Organization website:

Organization Twitter handle:


Organization Facebook page:

Organization Instagram:

Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization



Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.


In the next year, LA Community Garden Council will help an additional 150 low-income families grow healthy food in their neighborhood.

Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


We @LAgardens can help 150 low-income families in LA grow healthy food in their neighborhood in the next year!

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)


Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



What is your idea/project in more detail?


We envision a community garden network for Los Angeles where people of all ages live healthy, active lives in a clean environment by growing fresh food in their neighborhood. This network enables healthy lifestyles by providing access to healthy food and getting people outdoors exercising through gardening. It fosters the meeting of people from diverse cultures to share the best growing techniques in order to practice sustainable urban agriculture while growing sustainable communities.

In the next year, LA Community Garden Council will build three new community gardens in low-income neighborhoods to ensure that at least 150 families can grow their own healthy food in their neighborhood.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?


First, we will focus on community organizing. We will partner with LA Conservation Corps to send out teams of paid youth ages 18 to 24 to canvass the neighborhood for approximately eight city blocks around the three identified community garden sites. They will knock on doors, meet the residents, distribute bilingual fliers providing information about the new community garden, and invite them to give us their contact information and attend community meetings. We will also reach out to schools, recreation centers, religious institutions, businesses, and other local organizations to let them know about the community garden and invite them to participate in the planning process.

Second, we will hold at least two community meetings for each garden where we will listen to the local residents’ ideas about how they envision the community garden and how it will make their community healthier. We will have a landscape architect present to sketch out the ideas and start to form the garden plans based on the community members’ needs and desires. Over the next few weeks while the architect develops the plans, we will continue to organize the community to build a volunteer leadership team of at least five people and we will work with this team to create bylaws, gardener agreements, and garden rules.

Third, we will help build the community gardens. We will ensure the water is connected, put up a fence and sign, and organize community volunteer days to build the raised beds, mulch the pathways, build a communal meeting area, construct a tool shed and composting area, and help make the ideas and plans a reality! We will bring in soil, seeds, and seedlings to make sure that the gardeners have everything they need to start growing food.

Finally, we will organize classes in the community gardens. Starting with basic gardening skills and partnering with the UCCE Master Gardeners, we will make sure that every gardener can grow basics such as tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, and beans without fear. After 6-8 weeks, when the first harvest is ready, we will help organize a garden opening celebration! We will continue to assist the garden leadership team and will gradually expand the educational program to bring in nutritionists from local wellness centers to lead classes on healthy eating and chefs to lead classes on healthy cooking.

How will your idea/project help make LA the healthiest place to live today? In 2050?


Within the first year, the three new community gardens will provide access to healthy food and exercise for at least 150 low-income families in LA County. Healthcare professionals are starting to recognize the need for a holistic approach to preventative care and a healthy diet and exercise are key components of this. From the existing LA Community Garden Council gardens, we have evidence that gardeners lose weight in their first year of gardening, which helps to prevent Type 2 Diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, and heart disease. Gardening is relaxing and therapeutic and helps patients with mental illness. By getting children outdoors to garden instead of indoors in front of computer screens, we will help to create positive childhood experiences. We will encourage gardeners to walk, bike or take public transport to their community garden for their health as well as the community’s health.

Building new community gardens creates a healthier environment for local residents. We will seek to have land leases that extend beyond 2050 and, preferably, ensure that the land is used as green space in perpetuity. Teaching organic gardening techniques, including composting and seed collection, will ensure that the garden is sustainable and it will lower residents’ exposure to unhealthy toxins. We will have rainwater collection systems in the garden to ensure the best water conservation methods are followed and to reduce dependence on imported water. We will plant trees around the perimeter of the garden to increase the tree canopy cover.

By focusing on low-income neighborhoods, we will help families to reduce their grocery bill by growing their own food. Ultimately, this reduces the number of households living below the self-sufficiency standard, builds more resilient communities, and helps to reduce rates of homelessness.

We are confident that this three-fold focus on (1) access to healthy food and active lifestyles, (2) creating a sustainable environment, and (3) addressing economic concerns in lower-income neighborhoods will help to make LA the healthiest place to live in 2050!

Whom will your project benefit? Please be specific.


Within six weeks of the completion of the new community gardens, at least 150 low-income families in LA County will directly benefit from eating the fresh produce that they are growing, based on each garden having 50 gardeners. As most avid gardeners know, a single harvest is often too much for your immediate family to consume and so you soon find yourself spreading the wealth and giving away tomatoes, zucchini, mint, and other edibles to your extended family, neighbors, school friends, and co-workers!

We are focusing on the Watts area of South LA for the new garden sites because of the immense need in this area where, according to the LA Times profile, the median household income is low at $25,161, the median age is young at 21 years (partly due to gang violence), household size is high at 4.0 people, only 2.9% of residents have a four-year college degree, and 38.9% of the households are headed by a single parent. 61.6% of the residents are Latino and 37.1% are black.

There are currently 125 community gardens open to anyone in the community in LA County (this does not include gardens with restricted access, for example at schools, hospitals, or detention centers). Our goal is to build three new community gardens in 2015, four new gardens in 2016, five new gardens in 2017, and continue to build one additional new garden every year for the next 36 years. By 2050, there will be 863 community gardens in LA County. If each of these serves 50 families and the average family size continues to be 4.0, more than 172,000 people will benefit from growing their own healthy food in their neighborhood!

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.


To acquire the land, we will partner with organizations including the LA Neighborhood Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land. We have worked with these organizations in the past and they bring expertise to the process of land acquisition.

For the past 16 years, LA Community Garden Council has partnered with the LA Conservation Corps to employ youth from low-income neighborhoods to help with community organizing and construction of the community gardens. They bring skilled labor and efficiency in numbers.

We will continue to partner with the UCCE Master Gardener program to find knowledgeable and experienced teachers to lead our gardening classes. We plan to form new partnerships with healthcare professionals, especially nutritionists, to offer health programs in the community gardens.

When there is surplus produce in the community gardens, we will continue to partner with Community Services Unlimited, a local organization that distributes fresh food through markets in South LA, selling produce at low prices in neighborhoods that are considered food deserts because of the lack of availability of fresh produce.

Three factors that are critical to the success of these partnerships are (1) setting clear agreements and expectations in writing at the beginning of the partnership, (2) keeping channels of communication open and transparent throughout the project so that everyone is on the same page, and (3) debriefing at the end of the project so that we can determine ways to work together even better in future.

How will your project impact the LA2050 "LIVE" metrics?

Access to healthy food

Healthcare access

Exposure to air toxins

Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard

Percent of imported water

Obesity rates

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Rates of mental illnesses

Prevalence of adverse childhood experience (Dream Metric)

Percentage of LA communities that are resilient (Dream Metric)

Percentage of residents receiving coordinated healthcare services (Dream Metric)

Percentage of tree canopy cover (Dream Metric)


Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

The most immediate impact of the new community gardens will be to increase access to healthy food. This indirectly offers access to healthcare because a healthy diet is essential as a primary preventative measure in any health plan. The gardens will help to reduce obesity and related diseases. We encourage gardeners to walk, bike or take public transport to the gardens, for their health as well as for environmental reasons. Gardening is therapeutic and helps to reduce mental illness and it gets children outside and in community with people of all generations, increasing the prospect of positive childhood experiences.

By creating more green space and a sustainable, organic garden, we will reduce residents' exposure to air toxins. The gardens will contain trees to increase the level of tree canopy cover.

By focusing on lower-income neighborhoods, we will reduce grocery bills, and consequently the number of households below the self-sufficiency standard and reduce homelessness rates.

By building rainwater collection systems, we will conserve water and reduce the percentage of imported water.

Community gardens help to improve health and to reduce crime in neighborhoods, leading to more resilient communities.

Please select which other LA2050 Goals are relevant to your project or organization (check all that apply):

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the best place to LEARN

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.


We will consider the project to have been successful if, by September 2015 and within budget, we have:

1. Opened three new community gardens in low-income neighborhoods
2. Organized an active and effective volunteer leadership team of at least 5 people for each of the community gardens
3. Held at least ten gardening and nutrition classes for the community gardeners

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?


The two lessons that informed our community garden project most were from the LA2050 Report (pages 25-26):

1. Heart disease is one of the top four leading causes of premature death for whites, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders. This is preventable with a healthy diet and we believe that every person has the right to grow healthy food in their neighborhood.
2. Only 33% of children in Los Angeles live with ¼ mile of a park. By building community gardens, we are creating more green space where children can play and learn and therefore increasing this number.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.


LA Community Garden Council’s expertise is building new community gardens! We have built 32 community gardens around LA County and assisted with the building of many more.

We have already identified vacant city-owned land for the three proposed community gardens and we expect to be able to sign a standard lease with the city in 2-3 months once funding is secured. We will then spend two months focusing on community organizing. The design phase usually takes 2-4 weeks and we can build a garden, with LA Conservation Corps labor and volunteers, in 1-2 weeks.

We are therefore confident that we can build these three new gardens and make sure that they are functioning well with strong programs within the next twelve months.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?


We anticipate encountering the following barriers/challenges:

1. There are likely to be some residents who are, at first, reluctant to have a community garden in their neighborhood. They may fear excessive noise from the garden, a lack of privacy or have another concern. We will listen to these neighbors during the community meetings and at other meetings as needed, hear and address their concerns, and educate them in the many benefits of having a community garden in your neighborhood. We will be prepared to adapt our architectural plans to satisfy their concerns, as needed.

2. We have a waitlist for all of the 32 community gardens that we currently manage. We expect to have a waitlist for the new community gardens soon after they open. We will address this excess demand by working with the new volunteer leadership teams to determine clear criteria for who can lease a plot in the garden (for example, only those who live within a certain radius of the garden) and to determine the length of the gardeners’ agreement. Many of our recently opened gardens only allow one family to have their own plot for two or three years before passing it along to a family on the waitlist. In years when they do not have their own plot, they are still able to garden and benefit from the produce grown in the communal areas of the garden.

What resources does your project need? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

1 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

We are working on apps and games to support community garden networks to promote local food growth and social actions - can we collaborate on our game jam series and host an event with you?

by amoration
over 1 year ago

Pink ribbon award box icon 45b87e779c93f5099a48378c2aadc0fcd51184974daecf76e3f5c50034ea21fb
Award topvotedidea 5a5ae14e3d56a10363ea2a398cece46cf4df891213cbe68677c19d8903a1932a
Circle 1 inactive e7784182a1bd5eace578987db27fc19ec6337f418c48c6c8732605b9043d50d0 Step1 title submission inactive cde083e53089b973e7c9dc80a44a038c1ce4cf3b2650aeb5549157d1ed58a2d9

Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 2 inactive 74a43088831beb43fdbd7591ef5d50a5a7a26ff92c9e8ed489782459fa31a8d9 Step2 title voting inactive 96be722f53c417edddb5742ba9a6dc2fd403f7e4f6c19dbe883d50d20d93689d

Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 3 83da7a9432aeea960e1a9e9ee93e7ea1221af6c8f42b27964f2e9999d94b2b8d Step3 title 3d9e2a65d6ea1ad301f8fc607f5f828bd96362932c71d81c0da5b1fd964422b0

Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014