Sunday, December 13, 2009

Support the Food & Flowers Freedom Act!

There has been such a growth in the city farm movement in the past year, that media giants like Time Magazine and USA Today have been writing and talking about urban farms and city farmers on a fairly regular basis. Even a recent issue of Los Angeles magazine had a cover story on growing your own called, “Homegrown.”

Here in LA, urban agriculture projects range from home food growing and community gardening, to those who are selling what they grow at local farmers’ markets and through small CSA programs and even mini-farm stands.

The momentum of such small farming efforts seems to be pushing it forward and it will only increase. This means there will be more access to fresh food for more people, which is especially important for low-income residents who currently don’t have such access.

One of the things the city of Los Angeles can do to increase and encourage urban farming is to eliminate many of the restrictions that urban farmers now face to support healthier local eating. Little by little these issues are coming to light as residents want to go beyond just growing fresh produce and want to raise their own chickens and other small farm animals, or become beekeepers, or even become flower or fruit farmers and sell these goods to their fellow citizens.

But, in Los Angeles, under an antiquated 1946 truck farming ordinance, selling anything grown on your property except vegetables is prohibited.

That is why a group that includes the LA Community Garden Council, other urban farmers have been working to have this reversed.

The good news is that LA City Council President Eric Garcetti has introduced a motion that would reverse this ordinance. If passed it would change this city law prohibiting people in R-1 zoning from growing fruit, nuts, flowers or seedlings for off-site sale and will explore allowing “the cultivation of flowers, fruits, nuts or vegetables defined as the product of any tree, vine or plant, and that these products be allowed for use on-site or sale off-site.”

Called the Food and Flowers Freedom Act by its supporters, the motion is gaining momentum thanks to the city farmers who have lobbied for it.

These include Tara Kolla an urban organic flower who runs Silverlake Farms, had to stop selling at farmers’ markets because of this ordinance and Erik Knutzen and Kelly Conye of Homegrown Evolution,

They, along with other urban farmers have created the group Urban Farming Advocates to legalize urban farming in the City of Los Angeles and they are asking for your support so that City Hall will change the law quickly because they believe “that LA’s current zoning does not support urban farming or people’s growing desire to have access to locally-grown, organic, fresh, nutritious, safe and pesticide-free food and flowers.”

Urban Farming Advocates is asking that you write to your Los Angeles City Council member and encourage them to support this Act. City of Los Angeles

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Memory of Maya Ishibashi

So sad to hear that Maya Ishibashi passed away. She along with her husband Tom (my farmer hero pictured in the post just below) have run their farm at Torrance Airport for nearly 50 years.

My thoughts go out to all of the Ishibashi family, but especially to my friend Tom, who has lost his life partner.

Here's a photo of Maya from the 1980s that I used in my book about the history of farming in our area.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving: Thank a Farmer!

This is me (last year) with my favorite local farmer, Tom T. Ishibashi, I want to thank him this Thanksgiving! He is my Farmer Hero!

I am putting a link to my story that I did for this week because they have chosen it as their Daily Action for Today/Thanksgiving Day.

So, make sure to go and Thank a Farmer, without them, there would be no Thanksgiving foods or any food for that matter.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Project Food / LA @ MAK Day

Saturday November 7, 2009

Project Food/LA is presenting this all day event that's "part rally, part political convention, part lecture and part panel discussion."

It culminates with the Edible Endeavors Convention --- This is a survey of food advocacy practices in Los Angeles that will be presented in a rapid-fire series of presentations, and features a diverse set of individuals and organizations that will present their work on behalf of food issues in the city.

Keynote by Evan Kleiman, host of Good Food on 89.9 KCRW.

Featuring Presentations by:
Community Services Unlimited
Fallen Fruit
Fed Up with Hunger, an initiative of Jewish Federation of Greater LA
Garden School Foundation
Highland Park Coop
Locali Market
M&A Gallery
Project Food / LA
Public Matters
Root Down LA
UEPI at Occidental College
Watts Labor Community Action Committee

Here's the Complete Schedule:

12-1 pm: A graphic workshop with Handbuilt Studio for Project Food / LA. In preparation for the Edible Endeavors Convention, Yuju Yeo leads participants in generating foodie propaganda – banners, flyers, posters, etc.

1-2 pm: Curatorial walk-through on the exhibition Otto Neurath. Gypsy Urbanism with guest curator Nader Vossoghian

2:30-3:30 pm: Panel discussion: A discussion of exhibition and display strategies in relation to infrastructure, do-it-yourself methods, social space engagement, and graphic communication.

3:30-6 pm: Edible Endeavors Convention

Location: MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Schindler House, 835 North Kings Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

USDA Launches Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative

Well, there's more good food news coming from the Obama Administration's team. Today, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack officially announced the kick-off of the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" Campaign from the USDA's People's Garden. As he says in this video , the campaign is designed to begin a national conversation to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity.

Secretary Vilsack recorded a video to invite Americans to join the discussion and share their ideas for ways to support local agriculture.

"An American people that is more engaged with their food supply will create new income opportunities for American agriculture," said Vilsack. "Reconnecting consumers and institutions with local producers will stimulate economies in rural communities, improve access to healthy, nutritious food for our families, and decrease the amount of resources to transport our food."

And, they are putting their money where their mouths are; this week alone, USDA will announce approximately $65 million in funding for 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiatives.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whoo Hoo! Michelle Obama Applies for Farmers' Market Permit!

Just had to post this great news. Got a notice from DCist that the First Lady's office has requested to close Vermont Avenue between H and I Streets NW between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., every Thursday, for the market.

According to the DCist, this is the day and time that their readers and commentators were hoping for but the location was never discussed since it was unknown.

In this block, Vermont stretches between the far corners of Lafayette Square and McPherson Square. However, nothing is final and location could still change.

It is so great to see FLOTUS and POTUS so strongly supporting local food systems and farmers. It's something this LA Farm Girl has wished for a long time!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Come And Celebrate "30 Years of Farmers' Markets in Los Angeles"

Just a quick post to let you all know about a great event coming up this Thursday, September 3. It's,"30 Years and Growing," a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Los Angeles’ first farmers’ market.

Many people aren't aware that the Gardena Farmers' Market, which opened June 23, 1979, was the first market in Southern California. This anniversary is going to be celebrated at LA City Hall and will include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Evan Kleiman of KCRW's Good Food, Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner Kurt Floren, Jonathan Gold the LA Weekly's Pulitzer-Prize winning food critic, and many organizers and farmers from the original Gardena Farmers' Market.

There will also be a salsa contest, several urban farmers from around LA , a "Taste The Harvest" Booth, more than 40 local farmers, prepared foods and fresh food vendors as well as local artisans, and of course, birthday cake!

When: September 3, 2009, 10am – 2pm
Where: Lawn of City Hall, 1st and Spring St. Downtown Los Angeles

This wonderful even is being sponsored by some great organizations and groups including Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA) and the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today (August 26) is Women's Equality Day

I just wanted to remind everyone that today is Women's Equality Day, a celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that acknowledged the right of women to vote! This photo shows only a small part of how long it took and how hard it was for us to "get" the vote. We should never forget that.

This interesting piece on HuffPo today by Luis R. Burgos First Deputy Commissioner, New York Division of Human Rights points out, we still have work to do: "Gender discrimination still exists, most notably in the work place. Women are paid 78 cents on average for every dollar earned by men."
And this quiz from the National Women's History Project is a great way to get the discussion going and to remind us it took 72 years for women to "get" the vote

Friday, August 21, 2009

LA Farm Girl Quoted in LA Times

I normally don't do "bragging" posts but this one is not really about me, but about James Hatano, the last farmer left on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I have talked to him many times and included him in my book and was interviewed about farming on the Peninsula by the Times' reporter, Jeff Gottlieb who did the story that's in today's paper and he included a quote I gave him about the importance of our farms and farmers. It's called, "The Palos Verdes Peninsula's last farmer"

Here's a photo of Hatano Farm from my book.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

LA Farm Girl's City Farm is Growing

These are some photos I took of my garden over the past week or so. It's really growing and I have had some great zucchini, beans, tomatoes and basil.

My green beans are coming in great now and they are yummy!

And, the avocado tree seems to be coming back after the severe "trimming" it got!

The zinnias are not only providing great color from my office window, but they are doing their job, attracting bees and other "good" guys!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finally Good News: Survey shows California farmers profit from agritourism!

Tanaka Farms, pick-your-own produce tours, IrvineI am so happy to share a bit of good news for California's farmers. According to a survey conducted by UC Davis' Small Farm Center (a great organization) "California farmers and ranchers hosted more than 2.4 million agricultural tourists in 2008, according to early results from California’s first statewide economic survey of agritourism operators."

Check out the preliminary survey results for more detailed info.

What exactly is agritourism? Here's a definition that I included in a story I did on the topic for California Tour and Travel, back in 2004

Agri-tourism takes many forms and includes such diverse activities as farm tours, bed and breakfast farm stays, Christmas tree farms, corn mazes, agricultural/historical museums, petting farms, farm markets, food festivals, pick-your-own produce farms, roadside produce stands, nurseries, greenhouses, and wineries. Many farms also enhance the visitor’s experience with home-cooked meals, pies and desserts, gift shops, picnic areas, hayrides, train rides, and even cooking and gardening classes.

According to the survey, "Most agritourism operators who responded to the survey reported their agritourism businesses generated some profit. A majority said they are planning to expand or diversify their agritourism offerings over the next five years. In addition, 22 percent of agritourism operators reported more than $100,000 in agritourism receipts for 2008."

The survey also showed that most visitors are local, another great trend!
“We are excited to find that agritourism really seems to work for a lot of small farms,” said Penny Leff, statewide agritourism coordinator for the UC Small Farm Program. “Our results also show that agritourism is primarily local. More than 85 percent of reported visitors were from California.”

Let's help keep the trend going and make sure we visit a local farm and help support California’s small farmers!

Underwood Family Farm, Moorpark, they have pick-your-own-produce, birthday party areas, and a great farm stand

Monday, July 20, 2009

California Agriculture Is In Crisis

I haven't posted for a bit and I kept thinking, I know I usually post about LA centric or City centric things and realized that I should also be posting more about the dire condition of California agriculture.

Some of you may ask but why? I live in LA, how is this relevant to me? Because California produces over one-half of the fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States and has been the #1 agricultural producing state for at least the past 60 years. It brings in over $10 billion a year to the state's economy and now that's in jeopardy.

Like the rest of the U.S. economy, California's agricultural industry is facing tough economic times. There are towns in the Central Valley, Mendota for example, that has a 40% unemployment rate. That is mind-boggling to me, that here in California this is happening.

But, unlike other sectors of our economy, agriculture is also facing pressure due to the state's drought and the increasing restrictions on water as a result of other issues including protection of wildlife from the already sparse water resources it relies on. And, illogical and overzealous new food safety regulations that are in response to the food recalls of the past few years (instead of addressing the real issues in our food system).

In the past week alone, I have tweeted about and posted on my facebook page at least a-half a dozen stories on the troubles facing California farmers, and it's so heartbreaking.

I have been writing about our farmers and farms for the past decade and I made a conscious decision from the beginning to always try to focus on the positive, to show those outside of ag. (i.e. we city dwellers and consumers) what's in it for us. Be it pick-your-own-produce farms, farm stands, farmer's markets, or hayrides, I have encouraged people to go out and visit farms, and to buy from our farmers, because that's how we can support and save them. And, I still encourage everyone to do that.

But now, I feel that this alone isn't as effective considering the huge challenges our farmers are facing. We need to be more than consumers, we need to advocate for them, and to educate ourselves to become informed voters and urge those at the local, state, and federal levels of government to think about what would happen if we didn't have our farms. And, we all need to think about what would happen if we didn't have our farms. I shudder to think about that myself.

For example, to get you in the right mood, this is a photo of an orchard along the Fresno County Blossom Trail back in spring 2002. The Blossom Trail with it's vibrant colors each spring, is a great family activity and something that could be threatened if farmers keep having to clear their fields and leave them fallow.

Here's some links to some of the stories from the past week or two that I am talking about. Please read them and think about our farmers next time you bite into the sweet and juicy stone fruit of summer!Here's Simonian Farms, part of the farm family mentioned in this first story about packing houses closing, so sad, they have been farming in Fresno since the early 1900s. "Economic woes cause stone-fruit packers to close"

"Fresno County left in the dust",0,7402229.story

"Despair flows as fields go dry and unemployment rise",0,3172131.story

"Crops, ponds destroyed in quest for food safety"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fallen Fruit Fresh 'n Easy Exhibit, at Another Year in LA Gallery

LA Farm Girl's Photos From "Fresh 'n Easy Exhibit"
This piece shows hand-made canvas cotton and burlap bags and painted with the phrase, "dispshit liberals always looking for a handout." Beneath the bags are shelves that feature a "Public Fruit Exchange," so when you visit you are free to take what you want and also to bring fruit to share.

This piece is an awesome pine table inscribed with the phrase, "to all 'haters' this basically shows that we can all live off the land."

These photos come from the great little gallery and the exhibit I stopped into on Friday. It's by the wonderful people from Fallen Fruit,, and its being held at a small gallery that's housed in what was once the Capitol Records pressing plant in the Glassell Park area of LA, called "Another Year in LA,"

Now for those of you unfamiliar with Fallen Fruit, they are (according to their site) "an activist art project which started as a mapping of all the public fruit in our neighborhood. We ask all of you to contribute your maps so they expand to cover the United States and then the world. We encourage everyone to harvest, plant and sample public fruit, which is what we call all fruit on or overhanging public spaces such as sidewalks, streets or parking lots."

As part of their art project, they have a quirky and very small, yet very important show going on at "Another Year in LA," highlighting their work that combines public art social practice with the production of images, photographs, and installations like this one.

They took objects from their first five years of work and are using them to tell not only their story, but the responses to that story that were left by anonymous viewers of a PBS video of Fallen Fruit on You Tube. Some of these responses are not only hilarious, but sad and include one of my favorites, like this one printed on this hand-made, cotton apron, "So, if hippies lean over my fence is it legal for me to eat them?" Hilarious!

What's really cool is that you can also purchase items from the exhibit and help support their work and have some great local art in your home too!

Another Year in LA, is a very small gallery, but the building is great, lots of character and lots of potential so we all need to come out and support them so they can keep having these kinds of exhibits.

Here's the details:

Exhibit Runs through Sunday, August 2 and there is a Closing Reception, "After Jam" on that day from 3 to 7 p.m.

Another Year in LA - 2121 Nth. San Fernando Road, #13, (323) 223-4000

Gallery/Exhibit Hours: Tuesday through Friday, Noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Local Food Tips - How to Eat More Local Food -

This is a great posting talking about Roger Doiron's (founder of Kitchen Gardener's International) new project encouraging everyone to celebrate Food Independence Day tomorrow July 4th by eating more locally grown food. Why? Eating locally is patriotic after all!

Friday, June 19, 2009

First Planting In My City "Farm"

Just a quick post to show that I have actually started to plant my new raised bed garden/farm. I am planting both veggies and beneficial attracting flowers and will post more as I progress. Still need my tomatoes and gonna call up Laurel to see about getting some

I am also hoping to do some serious blogging this weekend, lots of things going on and info. to share so stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Get Your Organic Heirloom Tomatoes

Well, as you can tell by the increasingly infrequent postings, LA Farm Girl has been so busy she hasn't had much time to blog, let alone "farm."

But, busy or not, this has to change since my dear hubby installed a beautiful vegetable garden for me, complete with a fence (to keep the doggie out) and raised beds. This is a photo of the completed area.

So, since I was not prepared for this, I didn't buy plants, set seeds or anything. Luckily for me, I can still get some of my favorite heirloom tomatoes and plant them now. This is because Laurel of Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants, is having an on-site sale this Sunday at her urban "farm."

Who is Laurel you might ask? Well, she has been growing and selling her heirlooms for the past 9 years, but she comes from a long line of city farmers, her family farmed in Lomita and she still lives there where she is raising her tomatoes.

As she says on her site, "We are your year-round Southern California source for more than 160 luscious varieties of strictly organically grown heirloom tomato plants, a few carefully chosen great-tasting hybrids, plus a fine selection of gardening products for your home garden, and for growing in containers and greenhouses."

I have planted her tomatoes in my garden before and can attest to how great they are. Plus, she runs the business along with her Mom and her sisters so it's a great way to support a local urban family farm.
Don't miss the Pre-Father's Day Plant Sale:

Sunday, June 14th
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

1725 257th St, Lomita CA 90717
Information: 310 534 8611

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vote For Your Favorite Farmers' Market: Might I Suggest Torrance Certified Farmers' Market

Torrance Certified Farmers' Market!

Voting has begun in American Farmland Trust's, "America's Favorite Farmers' Market Contest."

So, I am encouraging everyone to go and vote for the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market to show our support and why we are the 3rd largest farmers' market in Los Angeles County! And, its not just because we have a large selection of farmers, but it's because our market is a community event and has been a fixture in the South Bay for 29 years! The Tuesday Market began in 1985 and the Saturday Market in 1992.

Now more than ever we need to support our local farmers' markets and make sure they thrive. Without farmers' markets, many California farmers couldn't survive (like Ken Lee, who has the best pluots ever)!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Drought & Farmers

Well, I just returned home from a trip up to San Francisco and Berkeley to see my nephew graduate from Cal and to spend a few days in the City. I am one proud Auntie and I had a wonderful time in the Bay Area as I always do.

However, I couldn't help thinking about the disturbing landscape I saw as we made our way up through the Central Valley, along Highway 5, it literally looked like the Dust Bowl (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE, IT'S JUST DUST). A fact not lost on the farmers and the California Farm Water Coalition who had posted signs all along the fallow and brown fields that read "Congress Created Dust Bowl."

Now, unless you live under a rock, you are no doubt aware of the drought that our state is facing. But, I also know that most Angelenos haven't got a clue about the water issues facing our farmers and usually assume that they get "all the water," when in fact this is not true.

So, as usual LA Farm Girl is asking everybody to educate themselves about the real role of agriculture and the real impact to our farmers when these issues come up. You can start by visiting the California Farm Water Coalition, Here, you fill find useful information such as actual water usage by different groups in California.

For example, "The environment uses 48% of all developed water in our state. Ag gets 41 percent and the remaining 11 percent goes to urban use, according to the Department of Water Resources in Sacramento."

As they mention on their site, "Estimates from UC Davis economists indicate up to 80,000 jobs will be lost and $1.6-2.2 billion will disappear from the economy in the San JoaquinValley alone because of the reduced water supplies this year. Along with the economic decline will come incalculable social consequences."

This is already happening, in the town of Mendota, unemployment is 40% and farm workers and their families are now among the hungry and homeless. Pretty ironic in an area that grows food.

You might wonder why you should care about farmers or agriculture, well the main reason is that the water farms use goes to feed us, yes all of us and many other people in our nation. California produces one-half of the fruits and vegetables in the United States.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Vote For America's Favorite Farmers Markets

American Farmland Trust (AFT) is having a contest this summer for people to vote for a fave farmers' market. They are (not surprisingly) calling it, "Vote for America's Favorite Farmers Markets." As they say, "Together we can strengthen the local farm-to-fork connection and pledge our support for healthy farms, healthy food and healthy communities."

We Angelenos need to show the rest of the country how much we love our farmers markets and our farmers!

The first step is getting your Market Manager to enroll their market into the contest so they can be part of it!

So be sure to tell your favorite Market Manager to go to the site and enroll, its free and easy,

"Over the summer American Farmland Trust will be promoting farmers markets to local food enthusiasts in your community and beyond."

For those who aren't familiar with them, American Farmland Trust is "committed to protecting the nation's best farm and ranch land and improving the economic viability of agriculture."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Declare Your Food Independence!

As regular readers know, I have been a big supporter of Roger Doiron and his Kitchen Gardener's International for a long time and was very happy that his "Eat the View" Campaign succeeded in getting the Obamas to plant an edible garden on the front lawn of the White House.

So, I am here to help spread the word about their latest endeavor, it's a new campaign, "Declare your Food Independence this July 4th" with the goal of keeping the momentum going, " this spring and summer by reinventing our national holiday meal as a celebration of healthy, delicious, and locally-produced foods. July 4th deserves better than mystery-meat hot dogs and water-flavored beer! Think about how you could make contact with your state's first family about this idea. Locally-grown and home-grown foods are patriotic, so let's not hesitate to wave our colors. "

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Citrus Sunday, May 3, San Fernando Valley

I received an email (thanks Astra) about a really cool event taking place tomorrow, Sunday, May 3 called "Citrus Sunday." This is apparently the 4th annual event. Its a volunteer fruit drive to pick thousands of pounds of fresh citrus to benefit needy San Fernando families.

Volunteers will pick oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruit from trees in their yards or at picking locations and drop them off at participating San Fernando Valley Fire Stations.

For a list of drop-off locations and information on how to get involved check out this site:

If you have fruit you want to donate here's what they ask you to do:
• Pick the oranges, grapefruits or other citrus from the trees in your yard up to three days in advance.
• Wash them and put them in plastic bags

Sunday, May 3, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

LA Garden Show "A Festival of Flavors"

This is just a reminder that the LA Garden Show at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden starts tomorrow, Friday, May 1 and runs through the weekend until Sunday, May 3,

The good news for urban farmers is that this year's theme focuses on a variety of edible plants that can be "easily grown in a garden. From fruits and vegetables to herbs and grains, the LA Garden Show, "A Festival of Flavors" offers something for every garden---whether that garden is in pots, on a balcony, in the backyard or spans several acres."

  • Edible Garden Showcases
  • Guest Speakers throughout the show including Steve Goto "Tomato Guru" composting workshop and Permaculture workshop
  • Marketplace featuring edible plants and rare finds
  • Opportunity to learn about organic gardening and sustainable practices
  • Get New Recipes
Time - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 1 - Sunday May 3
Early admission for Arboretum members is 8 a.m.

Adults $7.00
Seniors (62 and older) and Students with ID $5.00
Children (5 to 12) $2.50, Younger Children

Free Entry for Arboretum Members

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buy Locally: Support Your Local Farmer!

I just wanted to do a quick post to remind everyone that the Ishibashi Farm stand now has flowers and strawberries but they are only going to be here a little bit longer!

I went over on Monday to buy some strawberries and things are getting to the in-between stage so when they run out, we will have to wait until their new veggies are mature.

A reminder, they are located at 24955 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blog Today For Equal Pay Day

AAUW (American Association of University Women) is encouraging all bloggers to blog for Equal Pay Day. What is Equal Pay Day?

"To match men's earnings for 2008, women have to work from January 2008 to April 2009 — an extra four months. In recognition of this inequity, Equal Pay Day will be marked on April 28, 2009."

Actions you can take to help change this inequity include:

Wear RED on Equal Pay Day to show how pay inequity keeps women in the red!

Tell your senators: Keep the Change

For more information on the issue and events for the day, check out the AAUW site,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day! The Garden Opens This Weekend

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Earth Day! And, I am looking forward to the day when every day is Earth Day and we won't have to "sell" people on the idea of saving the earth since it seems like a no-brainer to me.

I also wanted to let everyone know that the Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, The Garden is opening this weekend(April 24) at the Nuart Theater in West Los Angeles. The Garden is a powerful look at "the famous politicial and social battle over the largest community garden in the U.S., located in south central Los Angeles." All week there will be different speakers during the different screenings so make sure to check it out, .

And, for those of you here in the South Bay, there is a special "sneak" preview/screening tomorrow, Thursday, April 23 at Cal State Dominguez Hills, at 3 p.m. in Claudia Hampton Hall, WH D165, The writer/director, Scott Hamilton will also be there!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

100 Garden Challenge

My friend, fellow Master Gardener Sarah Spitz asked me to post about the wonderful event that The Westside Permaculture Group and Sustainable Works are sponsoring, the “100 Garden Challenge.” And, she even graciously sent me a press release to make it even easier to do! So, here's the deets:

The purpose of this event is to create 100 edible gardens in a single weekend to build and enhance our community, raise awareness about the benefits of locally grown organic produce, and inspire an appreciation of the gifts nature has to offer. The “100 Garden Challenge” will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17, 2009.

There are three primary ways to get involved:

1. Community members who desire to start and maintain an edible garden and who have land for a garden or fruit tree or space for potted plants, are encouraged to register their future garden site for the "100 Garden Challenge" on the Gardens of Gratitude website.
For participants in need of advice or assistance in designing or planting their garden, the Westside Permaculture Group will supply the needed talent and workers to assist registrants in completing the work. Participants may also work independently if they prefer. Financial assistance in the form of materials donations is also available to qualified project sites.

2. Westside Permaculture Group is seeking volunteer gardeners of all skill levels and ages to assist in the designing, planting and maintaining of the gardens for before, during and after the event. Needed volunteers include: both unskilled and skilled gardeners; certified gardeners (i.e.: with Master Gardener, Biointensive Gardening or Permaculture Design certification, or the equivalent); trucks and drivers. Other volunteers desired include artists, musicians, cooks and event coordinators for the Gratitude Parties being held both afternoons of the event.

3. Westside Permaculture Group and Sustainable Works are seeking businesses and organizations interested in supporting the event through monetary or in-kind donations. Proceeds will go toward financing supplies for qualifying low-income participants in realizing their garden, and other direct event costs. Current sponsors include: Sustainable Works, The City of Santa Monica, Co-Opportunity, The Learning Garden, Heal the Bay and The Seed.

Registration for garden sites, volunteering, or becoming a sponsor for the event may be completed by visiting the "Gardens of Gratitude" web site: For more information please contact Traci Reitz:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LA Food Bank Vertical Garden

Well, since LA Farm Girl is still recuperating from her surgery last Friday, I thought I'd just post a few photos of the new Master Garden project I am helping with. Last summer students from CAL Poly Pomona, sponsored by Urban Farming installed a vertical garden along a wall in one corner of the Los Angeles Food Bank.
Now, we are replanting all kinds of edibles in hopes that it will continue to flourish. So far we planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, strawberries, and some herbs like basil. It's amazing to see things growing sideways on the wall and its part of a new trend in urban areas to plant where and how there is room.

However, for me, it's super sad that when I drive to the Food Bank and look around the corner at the now empty 14-acre South Central Farm, lack of space was never a problem here, it was lack of concern and understanding. But still I am happy to be involved in such a worthwhile project and if it helps to raise awareness of sustainable food issues especially food "desserts" in our city centers, then I will be happy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Screening of The Garden This Saturday

While I know I put it on my events, I wanted to highlight a special event coming up this Saturday,

Its called "Locavore Launch" and it features a screening of the Academy Award-Nominated documentary, The Garden, about the South Central Farm and a panel featuring several of the farmers' from the film and the farm as well as David Burns, the creator of Fallen Fruit (an urban foraging movement), see my blog posting here for info. on Fallen Fruit,

Its also going to include a cooking demo. from the South Central farmers and is going to help them celebrate the fact that Whole Foods will be selling the farm's organic, local produce every day. For those who aren't aware, after being displaced from their South LA farm, they have started farming on land up in Shafter and offer CSA sign ups. Check out their site for more info.,

LA Farm Girl is sad she can't attend but will be recuperating from a medical procedure she is having done tomorrow. But, I will be there in spirit!

When: Saturday, April 11, Noon to 3 p.m.
Where: Whole Foods Market, South Pasadena

Monday, April 6, 2009

Americans are Planting "Recession" Gardens

Recently, there was an interesting AP story in my local newspaper describing how many Americans are turning to gardening as the recession has become more and more serious. I found it interesting that in not only this article, but in several similar articles, journalists are using the term "Recession Garden" rather than the term used by most of us who write about sustainable farming and gardening "Victory Garden."

As I have written and talked about this movement, I have had many people ask me, "Just what is a Victory Garden?" Basically, during WWI and WWII, millions of Americans planted Victory Gardens to help the war effort by conserving resources, namely food, and becoming self-sufficient so that other resources would be available to the war effort.

Historian and Food and Society Fellow Rose Hayden-Smith points out the benefits and the importance of Victory Gardens on her blog. As she states, "Nearly 40% of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed stateside during 1943 were grown in school, home and community gardens." She concludes by discussing how Americans were providing a service to the country and points out that, "Gardens were not a diversion...through gardening efforts, Americans made significant contributions to the war effort."

Think about it. Backyard growers like you and me grew almost half of the fresh produce at that time. That number just astonishes me! And all because people chose to get involved and help not only themselves, but a greater cause, a greater good.

How so? These gardens not only allowed them to make it through the hard times of the war by reducing their food budgets and helping them eat more healthfully, but it led to other positive changes on a larger scale by reducing food miles and saving fuel and other transportation costs, and it provided more food where it was needed.

Eleanor Roosevelt led by example in WWII by planting a victory garden on the White House front lawn to encourage all Americans to plant their own victory gardens. So, the question is who will lead us today?

Many are hoping it will be President Obama. I wrote about this in my post about the campaign to get a White House Garden planted. The non-profit group Eat the View is encouraging the President to replant a large organic victory garden on the White House Lawn with the produce going to the White House kitchen and to local food pantries. ***

The group sees this as not only a way for him to lead by example to meet the global challenges of food security, climate change, and energy independence, but to show how organic gardens improve individual health and ease the rising cost of food, just as they had done during WWI and WWII.

As those involved in the Eat the View campaign point out, it's not only the downturn in the economy that has led to this new "Victory Garden" movement. It comes from a renewed call for eating locally grown produce that has led this new movement over the past few years. It's only in the past year that it has gained momentum due to the current challenges Americans face in making ends meet.

Examples of this renewed interest in Victory Gardens can be found all across the nation. One of the most well known is the Victory Garden pilot project in San Francisco. Funded by the City of San Francisco, the project aims to turn backyards, rooftops, and unused land into organic gardens/city farms. For them, victory has been redefined to mean urban sustainability, with victory seen as growing food for increased local food security and reducing food miles.

Last summer, Slow Food Nation, worked in collaboration with Victory Gardens 2008+ to plant a Victory Garden at San Francisco City Hall for Slow Food Nation. As stated on its web site, the group believes it has "heralded the era of self-sufficiency by creating an edible garden in the heart of San Francisco's Civic Center. Planted on the same site as the post-World War II gardens 60 years ago, the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden demonstrated the potential of a truly local agriculture practice, uniting and promoting Bay Area urban gardening organizations and producing fresh, healthy food for those in need."

As part of this, in November 2008, they donated over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to those in need through a partnership with the San Francisco Food Bank.

Their work and efforts is something that I believe we should all aspire to achieve because it is possible and it is necessary.

***UPDATE, during the week of March 16, First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on an organic garden at the White House!

( Originally published on )

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Good Sustainable Food News!

This morning I got another great piece of news in my email box. Michelle Obama is not the only First Lady planting an edible garden!

Maria Shriver, California’s First Lady announced that they will be breaking ground on an edible garden in May,

As stated in the press release, “It will promote community and educational outreach and encourage all Californians, especially children, to include fresh, healthy foods at mealtime and plant their own seeds for the future.”

They are going to do this by working in conjunction with the California School Garden Network (LA Farm Girl belongs to this too), Alice Waters and California Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura.

This is great because California still produces over one-half of the nation's fresh fruit and vegetables and the garden will create awareness "about the important role of food, where it comes from, nutritional value, how it is grown and harvested and ultimately how it reaches the tables of those who need it most."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yet Another Shameless Book Plug

Torrance circa 1931, nothing but oil derricks and farms

I thought I'd just post here my good news. The interview about my book that I did with Evan Kleiman for her Good Food Show on radio station KCRW is going to air this Saturday, March 21st. It not only airs live on the radio on 89.9 f.m. here in LA, but live on the web I believe.

The show airs from 11 a.m. to noon but my portion is scheduled to be on at 11:26 a.m. I am also interested in hearing the other story about the ladies from Lomita's St. Mark's Church replanting their grape vines!

Here's the link detailing the show,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

White House To Get Organic Vegetable Garden!

Those of you that are regular LA Farm Girl readers know that I have been posting about the calls from the Eat The View campaign for President Obama to plant an organic garden on the White House lawn.

Well, the good news is that today, they announced that they will be planting an organic vegetable garden! And, although the White House vegetable garden will be dug up and planted on the South grounds of the White House, out of view of the main house, it will still be there nonetheless!

As somebody who has been writing, volunteering, and advocating on behalf of sustainable farming and gardening for the past 10 years, it finally feels like my work has paid off and that people are realizing how important sustainable food is.

Check out the details from ABC here,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why Eat Locally?

My recent posts on the creation of the USDA’s People's Garden and How to Get the Most Out of Your Local Farmer's Market that are meant to encourage people to eat locally got me to thinking. Do people really know why it might be better to eat locally?

There are many benefits to eating locally. To me, the biggest benefit is that it just tastes better. Instead of being picked before it's ripe, locally grown produce has been freshly picked, meaning it's sweeter, crunchier, juicier, and all-around more flavorful than produce that's traveled thousands of miles to get to you.

It's also better for the environment because it reduces the need for transportation, meaning it reduces carbon dioxide emissions and reduces the amount of packaging necessary to transport the food.

Local eating also helps preserve, support, and protect local farmland and farmers, and it provides a boost to your local economy by keeping dollars right in your own community.

Another great thing about buying locally is that it often turns out to be healthier for you. Because you know where your food comes from, who grew it and how it was grown, you are more in control of what you eat and what goes into your body.

You have a unique opportunity to develop a relationship with the people who grow your food. This means you are able to choose foods from growers who minimize or eliminate the use of pesticide, hormones, and other unwanted chemicals, and you can ask them about how their food is grown and why.

Where to find local food? As I wrote in my posting about farmers' markets, your local farmer's market is one of the best places to find the largest selection of locally grown fruits and vegetables. To find one near you, check out the USDA’s farmer's market site.

Another great option is to join a CSA or community supported agriculture farm. This is basically a kind of "subscription" farm, where you buy shares in a farm in exchange for a share of the harvest. Most CSA's require annual or quarterly subscriptions and offer a weekly or bi-weekly box of fresh produce that's either delivered to your front door, or that you can pick up at the farm or some other convenient drop-off location.

For more great ideas and encouragement, go to To find local farms, farm stands, farmers' markets, and CSA's in your area, go to Local Harvest, Food Routes, or the Eat Well Guide.

Since I am a Californian (I am LA Farm Girl after all), there’s a great resource for buying local, California grown food, it’s the Buy Fresh Buy Local Guide which now includes portions of southern California.

(Originally published on

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Women's History Month, This Year's Theme is "Women Taking The Lead To Save Our Planet"

Happy Women's History Month to all! This year's theme is not only about how women are helping our environment, but this year, Women's History Month will honor the "Mother" of the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson.

Carson's book, "Silent Spring," was so influential in creating changes in legislation, attitudes, and inspiring activists. As part of this salute to Carson, they are going to have nationwide screenings of a film about her life, called “A Sense of Wonder" .

As they say on their web site, " Sense of Wonder Productions is teaming up with the National Women's History Project to host 100 screenings & events across the country entitled "An Evening with Rachel Carson." It's an opportunity to revisit the origins of the modern environmental movement, and learn how Carson's message can inspire us for generations to come.

We are lucky here in LA because there is a screening on March 19 at the Laemmle Music Hall Theatre in Beverly Hills,

For more info. on National Women's History Month, check out the group that led to it becoming a nationally recognized month, The National Women's History Project, You can even order goodies from them!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ishibashi Farm Stand Is Open!!!!!!

I am so happy to report that Tom T. Ishibashi and his family (including his wonderful niece Karen) have re-opened their stand at the Torrance Airport (at 24955 Crenshaw Boulevard)!

They have their first of the season strawberries and some beautiful poppies, with other flowers soon to debut once the weather warms up a bit.

I was lucky enough to spend 1/2 an hour chatting with him and catching up. He is one of the featured farmers in my book on the history of farming in the South Bay and Torrance and he reminded me that this year marks the 60th year that the Ishibashi family has been farming on this stretch of land. How lucky we are to have had them all these years and to still have Tom here!

Stop by and visit and buy your first of the season berries, they are good and only going to get better!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

White House Vegetable Garden By Summer?

(Photo Courtesy Eat The View Website)

Well, after the depressing news the last few days about California's budget and the cutback of water for California's farmers, LA Farm Girl is very happy to hear this piece of news from CBS news. It seems that an adviser to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says that there should be a vegetable garden planted on the White House lawn by this summer! Great news and I am sure the Eat The View people are so happy too!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

NY Times Story About The Severity of California Drought and What It Means To Our Farmers

Just when I think that things can't get any harder or worse for California farmers, I am horrified to be wrong. Our severe drought is causing more hardship for them including severe restrictions on water use.

This NY Times article talks about both the economic hardships and the hardships the drought has brought to the Central Valley, especially the town of Mendota which now has a 35 percent unemployment rate (and no, that's not a typo)!!! As the mayor says in the article, "People are saying, ‘Are you a third world country?’"

Other grim facts the article points out: "Last year, during the second year of the drought, more than 100,000 acres of the 4.7 million in the valley were left unplanted, and experts predict that number could soar to nearly 850,000 acres this year. All of which could mean shorter supplies and higher prices in produce aisles — California is the nation’s biggest producer of tomatoes, almonds, avocados, grapes, artichokes, onions, lettuce, olives and dozens of other crops"

We are still the number one agricultural state so this affects all us, truly sad what's happening in our state.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

California Revamps State Agriculture Committee

As the nation's number one agricultural producer and exporter, California's agricultural policy has always influenced what goes on in the rest of the country. Recent changes to the old California Senate Agriculture Committee will see if this trend continues as the state works to become a leader in creating a sustainable farm system.

On January 13, 2009, the California Senate Agriculture Committee was renamed the Committee on Food and Agriculture. And its leaders announced that it will no longer focus solely on grower and food producer issues, but also on larger consumer-focused issues including sustainability, food safety and farm animal welfare.

The reorganized committee represents a new vision that recognizes the need to protect natural resources at the same time it has to feed a growing population. It also brings a new focus on agriculture's role in developing sustainable communities that support healthy lives and healthy communities.

The biggest change that this committee brings is the recognition that consumers have thus far not been given a voice in Sacramento. For too long, only producers and those in the industry dominated the state's agricultural policy.

The Committee is led by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez who outlines the new committee's agenda on its new web site. "It was my goal, when reorganizing the Food and Agriculture Committee, to create the first ever forum where consumers and policy makers can discuss the fundamental topics of food safety, sustainable farming, animal welfare, and food security,” he wrote.

One change addressing the food security issue will be the inclusion of urban legislators on the committee, which has historically been made up of rural members. This is in response to the recognition that most urban residents need increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

As part of the goal to include consumer input, over the next year, the Food and Agriculture Committee will be holding a series of public hearings across the state and are seeking public input as they prepare for these hearings.

That's why they have created a new web site that provides both information on the committee’s change but also encourages public input on policy issues ahead of the public hearings. Those interested can sign up for email newsletters and updates on upcoming hearings, or post on the message board.

(Originally published on Care2, (Originally published on Care2, )

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bringing The Farm To The Hospital

One of the things in life that I find most ironic is the unhealthy food that is served in hospitals and at other medical facilities.

Think about it. In spite of the fact that fresh food has natural disease fighting nutrients that help speed healing and prevent illness, hospital food is not known for being a model of healthy eating. On the contrary, it has the reputation of being mostly non-edible and features all of the things that most doctors caution against: foods with enormous quantities of fat, sugar, and sodium, and many even have fast food restaurants right on site.

The good news is that in recent years many hospitals are using creative solutions to provide nutritional food to their patients and staff while promoting healthy, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable food systems.

The most common way they are doing this is by partnering with local farmers to improve the quality of food in these institutions. These partnerships, known as farm to hospital programs, not only bring healthier food, but also help small and local farmers by providing them with increased economic opportunities.

A leader in this trend is the Center for Food and Justice (CFJ) at Occidental College in Los Angeles. They have been working to promote the farm to hospital model and implement pilot farm to hospital programs throughout Southern California.

CFJ notes that the farm to hospital approach goes beyond buying local fruits and vegetables and includes other sustainable and health-promoting food purchasing options like organic food, sustainably raised meats, produce and dairy products, and antibiotic free meat and dairy products.

Also spearheading this movement is the nonprofit Health Care Without Harm, a coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations. They started the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge to get hospitals to serve more local fruits and vegetables, hormone-free milk, and meat raised without antibiotics or hormones. So far, over 160 facilities nationwide have taken the pledge.

The pledge also asks health care institutions to go beyond local and healthy food purchasing and adopt practices for food waste, food packaging, and buying fair trade products. Both organizations indicate that farmers’ markets on hospital grounds are an important component of farm to hospital programs. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland was the first healthcare facility to house a farmers’ market on its grounds. Started in 2003, it now has 10 markets at its California facilities.

Other hospitals throughout the country that have implemented similar programs include Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, and Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

If you work at a healthcare facility or are concerned about the food served at your local hospital, contact the food services director or the health education department to see about making a positive and healthful change in your community. You can use these models to show them the effectiveness of Farm to Hospital programs.

(Originally published on Care2,

Monday, February 9, 2009

Message From Evan Kleiman

Well, I have been so busy this past week or so with both personal things and work things, I thought I'd at least stop to post this link to a video from KCRW Good Food host Evan Kleiman.

She is thanking everyone for their support, and reminding us all how we can continue to support KCRW and its great programs, like her show.

Check it out for yourself here:

I am hoping to get back on track with blogging tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Shameless Book Plug

Well, it's been a while since I posted any news about my book. As I mentioned the other day, there's a new Los Angeles Agriculture blog from UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County. Well today, Rachel Surls, the LA County Director posted a very nice entry about my book and even included a photo of one of my favorite farmers, Bill Mertz.

You can check it out here

Here's the photo she used from my book that is from Bill Mertz's personal photo collection (which he was generous enough to let me publish in the book). Check out the size of the celery that he and his partner Carl Tasche are holding! No wonder he was so successful!

Monday, January 26, 2009

New LA Agriculture Blog from UC Cooperative Extension

Just a quick post to let you all know about a wonderful new resource, a new blog all about Los Angeles agriculture from the official source, Rachel Surls, Director of UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County Office,

She just started the blog so she's still filling it up with content but she is hoping to make it the home of all things agriculture related and some things that aren't. And, she will also include some wonderful history about our county's agriculture since she has a passion for history and is a great resource. She is also interested in hearing your stories, leads, and whatever else you might want to include there.

And, contrary to popular belief, UC Cooperative Extension is not affiliated with UCLA, but is part of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department at UC Davis, the real agriculture college of the University of California.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Replant An Organic Garden At the White House

Those of you who read the blog regularly know I have been advocating for the creation of a Victory Garden at the White House and that this idea submitted by the Eat The View folks won the Grand Prize in the OnDayOne Contest.

Well now, they are asking that we vote for the idea as one of the "9 for '09" to encourage President Obama to plant the garden in his first 100 days in office.

You can sign their petition at their site,, or at the One Day One site, as part of the "9 for '09!"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Last to Day Vote For Victory Gardens 2.0 At

Just a quick post to let everyone know that today is the last day to vote for Victory Gardens 2.0, in the Ideas for Change in America competition!

On Friday they will present the top 10 ideas to the Obama administration at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. And they will then connect the winning ideas to leading nonprofits and launch a series of national advocacy campaigns to turn each idea into federal policy.

Right now Victory Gardens. 2.o is in 26th place and it needs over 5,800 more votes to make it in the top 10. So, click now and vote for it!!!! and click on Victory Gardens 2.0!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good News: Eat The View Comes Out #1

Eat The View, the campaign to plant an organic Victory Garden on the White House Lawn, came out as the #1 idea for change on the On Day One website,

The idea won first prize in the contest ahead of 5000 other proposals. The contest, a project of the Better World Fund, brought together over 5000 ideas for what the next president should do “on day one” to help tackle global problems.

Roger Doiron, the wonderful man behind the idea and the creator of Kitchen Gardeners International said this today:

"While it is unclear whether Mr. Obama will commit to this initiative, Doiron and his supporters are optimistic about their chances, emphasizing the proposal’s simple, symbolic and fiscally-responsible nature. It requires no new spending, but rather redirects existing natural and human resources towards a more productive and socially-responsible end. The sun and soil are already there, Doiron points out, as is the White House’s 13-person grounds crew who could help plant and maintain this new garden."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vote at For Victory Gardens 2.0

Just a quick post to let you all know that LA Farm Girl became an official endorser of Victory Gardens 2.0 on the site, which is Obama's site for hearing what we all want to be changed and one of the ideas that is leading in votes is a Victory Garden at the White House. Check it out here and vote for it!!!!!

As they say on the site, "Thousands of Americans and people from the around the world are asking the Obamas to lead by example on climate change, health policy, economic self-reliance, food security, and energy independence by replanting an organic food garden at the White House with the produce going to the First Kitchen and to local food pantries."

The "original" Victory Garden movement made a huge impact. The stats they give are amazing: "Victory Gardens (behind homes, schools, in vacant urban lots, etc.) produced 40% of the nation’s produce at their peak, helped conserve food and natural resources at a time of crisis, resulted in the highest consumption rates of fruits and vegetables our nation has seen, and helped keep millions of Americans physically fit and active. "

And, despite objections from the USDA, Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden on the White House lawn!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

LA Farm Girl Finally Realizes That It's 2009!

I guess the holidays have really knocked me off schedule and I realize I haven't posted in quite a while!

Last year I made some farm and food related resolutions and I realize that while I kept some of them, some of them I didn't. So, I have decided not to torment myself by making such resolutions again since one never seems to know what life is going to throw at you.

But....I will try to keep moving forward on my path to eat more locally grown, family farmed, fresh fruits and vegetables in the coming year. I am also making progress in buying more locally produced products in other areas as well, or at least shopping at local merchants so I am encouraging others to keep doing that as well.

I am also trying to decide which way to go with my writing, I so enjoyed working on my book about the history of farming here in the South Bay and am wondering if anybody is interested in the history of farming in Los Angeles, there is so much to it and it involves a lot of research but I feel like its so important to tell the story.

So, if you are a follower of this blog, please let me know what you think, are you interested in LA Farm History? Are there other things you are interested in? Let me know!

I also have the idea of doing a guidebook, "The Garden Lovers Guide to Los Angeles," and can't seem to shake it, but is anybody interested in that?

Here's wishing us a "fine 2009!" And here's hoping that our family farmers continue to find fresh food lovers who will support them!!!!