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.