Monday, December 6, 2010

Help Save The Hollywood Farmers' Market!

In case you hadn't heard, the Sunday Hollywood Farmer's Market is in danger. One of the largest farmers' markets in Los Angeles County, this 20-year old market is faced with the prospect of either shrinking in size or possibly closing altogether due to a conflict with a nearby business over parking.

The LA Film School petitioned the city to "move" the market away from their parking lot, which is located on Ivar Avenue between Sunset Blvd and Selma Ave.

According to KTLA News, "That means approximately 150 vendors who sell their own products every Sunday will be displaced. Vendors will lose the more than $130,000 in income that is generated every Sunday.

And with the loss of that income, 7 other smaller farmers' markets in low income areas like Watts, Crenshaw, South Central, Echo Park, East Hollywood and Atwater Village that are supported by the Hollywood Farmers' Market could also be forced to close."

The market is run by the non-profit SEE-LA, which has not only started all of these other markets, but created the Hollywood Farmer's Kitchen.

Yesterday at the market, SEE-LA gathered thousands of signatures showing the community's support. However, if you didn't get the chance to sign their petition, and want to show your support and be kept informed of what's going on with this issue, send them an email at: to show your support.

Also, make sure to "like" the Protect the Hollywood Farmers Market Facebook page.

There is a meeting scheduled for later today between market staff and the City. Hopefully they will be able to work out a way to keep this fresh food oasis that is one of the only sources of fresh, local food in the community.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy National Farm-City Week

This week, millions of Americans will gather around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends enjoying the harvest from the most bountiful food source in the world. But, did you know that this week (November 19-26) is also National Farm-City Week? A week designed by the National Farm City Council to highlight the important roles that urban and rural partnerships play in food and fiber production.

Did you know that the state of California produces more than 50% of the nation’s fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts? And, it does this using just 3% of the nation’s farmland. California farmers and ranchers produce nearly $30 billion a year, support over 1.1 million jobs, and is the top agricultural state, a position it’s held for more than 55 years.

For most people the answer to these questions is no. That’s because there are usually no big, headlining agricultural stories in the media. There is no constant coverage on the fact that thanks to California, we have the safest, most affordable food supply system in the world.

What about the people who grow your food, fiber and flowers? It might surprise you to know that California is still dominated by family and small run farms. Approximately 97% of California farms are run as family farms or partnerships.

If farm issues are covered on the news, most stories usually cast a negative light on farmers. However, many of our farmers practice sustainable agriculture and work towards preserving our natural resources, protecting the environment, and conserving water. They are the largest stewards of our land and are working to preserve what little open space is left.

But each year, their very existence is jeopardized by the unchecked growth of development, competition and dominance by large corporate farms, over-regulation at the state and federal level, and the apparent lack of concern for their survival by the general public.

American Farmland Trust says that every minute of every day, America loses two acres of farmland.

Maybe you think that because you live in Los Angeles you are so far removed from agriculture that it doesn’t affect you. Have you ever stopped to count the number of times during the day that agriculture touches your life? From the time you crawl out of the cotton sheets on your bed in the morning, to the time you brush your teeth at night; agriculture is there. If you use products like paper, shampoo, crayons, buttons, and shoes, then you are affected by agriculture.

You might also think that in Los Angeles County we don’t even produce agricultural products anymore. In 2006 (latest report available), L.A. County had 16 million dollar commodities including ornamental trees and shrubs, bedding plants, root vegetables, herbs, apples, strawberries, and grapes.

As you sit down at the table this Thanksgiving and give thanks for all of the good in your life, take the opportunity to thank our farmers. Remember: agriculture is part of our lives, so we must help to protect it.

You can make a difference by asking where your food is grown, who grew it, and when and how it was grown. Shop at your local farmers’ market; look for Buy Local campaigns at your local market, showing that the food was made in California.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dont Miss It: LA Farm Girl Book Signing

Did you know that:
  • Gardena was once known as the Strawberry Capital of the World?
  • Redondo Beach was once known as Carnation City?
  • There were still a dozen dairies in Torrance until the mid-1960s?
  • The Palos Verdes Peninsula was once one of the largest producing areas of garbanzo beans?
All of this and more is true, and are just some of the great things I discovered while researching my book, "Farming In Torrance And The South Bay." If you are interested in this fascinating history and want to learn more, come to a book signing this weekend in Torrance.
Here's the details:

Date: Saturday, November 20, 2010
Time: 1 to 3 p.m.
Location: Costco - Torrance, 2751 Skypark Drive, Torrance, CA

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Forneris Farms Harvest Festival Starts This Weekend!

Since it is already October, Halloween will be here before you know it. That means it is time to go and pick-your-own pumpkin. Instead of going to that parking lot pumpkin patch next to your supermarket, why not go to a real farm and have a great day of fun and support a great local LA farmer?  

Yep, a "real" LA farmer, imagine that! Forneris Farms is one of only two "traditional" farms left in the San Fernando Valley---John Forneris has been farming in Mission Hills for the past 45 years!

Not only can you pick-your-own pumpkin, but during Harvest Festival time there's great activities for the whole family including a tractor-pulled train ride, a "farm frolic" area with kid's games, farm animals, antique tractors and cars, and on weekends there's food and entertainment. They also have an awesome corn maze with over 4 acres of turns to get lost in. And, of course their farm market is always open and features farm fresh produce year-round.

Follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook

Let's show John and Barbara that we support them and appreciate that they are here providing us with locally, grown, farm fresh produce and a great on-farm experience for the whole family!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

LA Farm Girl Post on UC ANR Los Angeles Agriculture Blog

My first post for the wonderful Rachel Surls' UC Los Angeles Agriculture blog is now live!

These blog posts are part of the book we are working on together all about Los Angeles agriculture both past and present.

The post is part one, about how Los Angeles became the wine growing capital of California in the mid-1800s.

Also, there's a great post from Rachel Surls all about Self-Help Cooperatives of the 1930s and how, during the depression people bartered for goods, including harvesting farmers' crops for a share of the harvest!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Meet LA Farm Girl at Food Rendezvous

I have been busily working on many things, including my next book, that I have neglected my own blog!

But....I just wanted to post a reminder about the first ever "Food Rendezvous," kicking off tomorrow in Venice. This is a new monthly gathering and hopefully people will keep coming back for more!

Here's the details on Food Rendezvous:

August 28, 2010, 4 - 10 PM

Location: SPARC, historic 1920s police station/jail house and its adjoining parking lots Venice, 685 Venice Blvd.



•Delicious food from emerging local artisans

•Creative chefs’ demos

•Cookbook swap

•Fun cooking contests

•Inspiring food movies

•Tasty live music

• Jam Making Contest

Local food authors, including yours truly!

I will at the Writer's Table tomorrow from 4 to 5 p.m. right when the event kicks off. Come and learn all about our rich farm history in the South Bay and LA area, and hear how both Venice and Lomita claimed to be the "Celery Capital" of So Cal!!!
"Farming in Torrance And The South Bay" by Judith Gerber

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Upcoming LA Farm Girl Events

LA Farm Girl's August 1 morning harvest, cucumbers, Oregon Spring & Lollipop tomatoes
Having had my blog for a few years now, I still don't feel comfortable using it to talk about myself, or all of the things that I am doing. And, I usually end up using it to promote other people's projects, events, etc.

But all of my fellow farm and garden writers and foodies tell me that I should.

So, I am going to take their advice and list of couple of things I am doing this month, but I don't feel as uncomfortable since they are great events featuring other people's work, a film, and other fun things.

First up, the Torrance Public Library will be showing "Food Inc." and following the film, I will be moderating a discussion. Those of you in the South Bay, please come out and help me lead an intelligent talk about this important film.

Food Inc. Film and Discussion: Wednesday, August 4, 7 p.m.
Location: Katy Geissert Civic Center Library, Community Meeting Room, 3301 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503
Next up, please join me for the kick-off of an exciting new "Monthly Gathering for Food Lovers!" The Food Rendezvous

August 28, 2010, 4 - 10 PM
SPARC, historic 1920s police station/jail house and its adjoining parking lots Venice

  • Delicious food from emerging local artisans
  • Creative chefs’ demos
  • Cookbook swap
  • Fun cooking contests
  • Inspiring food movies
  • Tasty live music
  • And so much more!
And local food authors, including yours truly, I will be talking about our rich farm history in the South Bay and LA area.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Farm and Food News Update 7/23/10

So humbled and excited to have my blog post included in American Farmland Trust's weekly "Farm and Food News Update." I wrote about not only their work, but how things like agri-tourism can help save our farmland.

As they say, "No Farms No Food"

Farm and Food News Update 7/23/10

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why Saving Farmland Is So Important

Here is my posting for this week. I wrote about the importance of saving our farmland. Why?

Well, when I write about our farmers and our farms, I always talk about the obvious reason to keep our farmland, i.e. "No Farms, No Food," as the American Farmland Trust always says.

And, I always talk about how without land; our farmers will be out of business. One of my food "idols" is Russ Parsons, of the LA Times. As he says, farming is a business. This is true no matter how big or small a farm is and if it wasn't treated as a business, they couldn't survive. So, we need to support them and the land that they work so they can survive!

However, there are many other reasons that farmland is so important that most people often aren't aware of. One of the biggest is the fact that our farms are green space and can contribute to a healthy environment. Sadly, we don't hear about all of the work they do in this regard, all we hear about are the big bad, corporations, which I don't really consider "real" farms and which are degrading our environment.

Here's the story I wrote covering all of this, I would love to hear your feedback!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Follow Me On My Slow Project

LA Farm Girl's Farm

As those of you who read LA Farm Girl's ever-decreasing blog entries know, I seem to get busier and busier and get less and less accomplished, including posting here.

That's why I have decided to embark on a personal journey that I am calling "The Slow Project." It came out of a post I did last week for my Healthy and Green Living contribution, "5 Easy Ways To Slow Down."  

The response I received from that post, there were over 180 comments, told me that I was on to something, that we all need to take time to slow down a bit.

So, this week I wrote about my own attempt to slow things down and to "walk the walk" and kicked off The Slow Project.

I sometimes feel like such a fraud writing about slow foods, gardening as a healer, and sustainable farming, and then rushing around like a crazy woman in order to that.

I thought it was high time I put to practice what I have been preaching (so to speak). I would love to have you join me and let me know what works for you and how you are enjoying the process of being more mindful and enjoying the things around you.

As part of my efforts to take time to enjoy the literal fruits of my labor, after I tended to the garden, I took the time to look at what I have created, took photos and let myself enjoy it. Here's a couple of shots of what is going on now:

Here's my "Burpless" cucumbers, they are yummy!

flat leaf and curly leaf parsley doing great now!

Friday, May 21, 2010

LA Farm Girl's First Spring Crops

I have been so busy writing and farming that I haven't posted anything in over a month! So, until I have time to compose something meaningful, I thought I'd post a few photos of the first of my new veggies. I am still planting but so far, my burpless cucumbers and sugar snap peas are doing great, and my little tomatoes are growing, although there's no fruit yet.

My first cucumber is nearly ready for picking and several others are starting to pop out of their flowers!

My sugar snap peas are living up to their name, they taste like candy, so sweet! Thanks to Peter Lee, of Environmental Arts for the wonderful seedlings :)!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring's Simple Pleasures: Visiting Tapia Brothers Farm Stand

While we hear so much in the media, online and through our social networking sites about urban farms, community and school gardens, we often don't hear much about "traditional" farms that are still surviving and still offering us a chance to reconnect to the land.

Yesterday, LA Farm Girl ventured out to Encino to visit one such place: Tapia Brothers Farm Stand, at 5251 Hayvenhurst Avenue, in Encino, literally just off the Hayvenhurst exit off the 101 Freeway.

Now, many people know Tapia Brothers as home to TomatoMania, but they are so much more. For LA Farm Girl, it's a place to return to for some memories of when I was a kid and I would go to the stand sometimes to buy strawberries with my Grandpa.

Their farm and stand is one of only two such "mom and pop" farm stands left in the once agriculturally abundant San Fernando Valley. They don't even have a web site so if you want to make sure they are open before going, call the stand at (818) 905-6155.

It is a little early still for their tomatoes, but I bought some and they were already pretty sweet, as were the strawberries. As the weather warms up and summer comes, they will have their sweet corn and peaches and much more.

We need to make sure the Tapia Brothers know how much we appreciate them and how happy we are that this family owned farm is still here, so go and show them some love.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Cesar Chavez: It's Cesar Chavez Day

Today would have been the 83rd birthday of civil rights activist, farmworker, and labor leader Cesar Chavez, who along with Dolores Huerta founded the National Farm Workers Association.

Here are some quotes from Chavez to remind us of the huge contribution he made for farmworker's rights by advocating for justice, equality, and dignity for all Americans.

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”

"Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's Tomato Time!

For those of us who live in southern California, most tomato planting begins in mid-to-late March depending on nighttime temperatures. This means now is the time to plant and luckily for us, there are plenty of places to get a wide variety of yummy heirloom tomato seedlings.

Here are a couple of great events to get you started:
  • Friday, March 26 through Sunday, March 28, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. TomatoMania! at Tapia Brothers Farm in Encino. This is one of the biggest tomato events in the area, with almost 300 tomato varieties!
  • Wednesday, March 31 through Saturday, April 3, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Long Beach City College Horticulture Club Plant Sale will feature 4,000 tomato plants for sale. All proceeds benefit the horticulture program.
If you can't make one of these events, why not buy from a local urban farmer? Laurel Garza is owner of Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants in Lomita, Laurel grows and sells over 130 varieties of heirloom tomatoes from her own urban southern California farm. She not only sells year round to online customers, but has on-site plant sales as well. Check out her site for a list of upcoming sales or to schedule an appointment to pick up your plants.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Help Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative

Well, it is hard for me to believe that it's been a whole month since I last posted on my blog! Things have been so busy but I wanted to make sure I got a post up about a great new project that my wonderful Master Garden Program (UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County) is launching.

This is the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative, which is part of UC Cooperative Extension's LA County Common Ground Garden Program.

Click here for a description from UC Cooperative Extension's LA County's own fabulous director Rachel Surls about this exciting new effort,

As she says, UC Master Gardener volunteers and community partners are offering a low-cost, four-session class, held at 10 locations around Los Angeles County, to teach new gardeners the basics of successful vegetable gardening. These "Victory Garden Circles" will provide not only basic lessons, but also a way to stay in touch with fellow gardeners, ask questions, and share produce.

Groups are gearing up to start in late March and early April. Participants who complete all four classes will become UC Certified Victory Gardeners. A google map shows the locations and contact information for each site.

They are hoping to start ten more sites in the fall, and LA Farm Girl is looking for a site to do this in her area, the South Bay, ideally, we need both indoor and outdoor access in case of rain or extreme heat.

You can follow all of the excitement on the blog or at the Initiative's web site

Monday, February 15, 2010

A People's Garden

Well, since has asked that I not use the same posting for my own blog as the ones I write for them, LA Farm Girl is starting off the week rather lazily and simply putting a link to this week's post here for your reading pleasure.

It's about the USDA's People's Garden Initiative, encouraging us all to plant gardens in our local communities. A great idea! And, nothing precludes me from posting a photo of one of our great local community gardens, Torrance's Columbia Park Community Garden.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spread Some V-Day Farm Love

Since this weekend is Valentine's Day and since LA Farm Girl has never been one who believes in celebrating an artificially created day to celebrate love, I have been on the hunt for alternative ways to spend the day all centering around my one true love, our urban farms and gardens.

And, fortunately I have found some and thought I'd share them with you.

First on my list, "Love Pick" a great event organized by that awesome group Food Forward, those wonderful folks who go on organized fruit picks and collect it for those in need. As they say, "Calling all who are in love or looking for love (singles, couples and lovebirds welcome)--come find love in the orange grove."

Here's the details:
Date: Sunday, February 14
Where: Franklin Canyon Orange Grove (off Coldwater Canyon)
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m.
Spots Available: 40
To Reserve a spot, RSVP to

Number two on my list and something completely different is a look back at the history of farms and farming here in So Cal. through a visit to Rancho Santa Anita known today as the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia

On V.D., you can take the Curator's Tour of the Historic section of the garden and learn all about the history of Rancho Santa Anita, from when it was a citrus growing ranch, a cattle ranch and hear how it became the world class botanic garden it is now.

Date: Sunday, February 14
Time: 10:30 a.m. to Noon

While there, you can also check out the exhibit on display also related to the history of the garden when it was a ranch. Time & Land: Artifacts from the Arboretum's Collection. See art, tools, archaeological artifacts, documents, photographs and more that tell the story of the Arboretum and Rancho Santa Anita.

Exhibit Dates: Now through April 2
Times: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Free with garden admission of $8

And, if you do go to the Arboretum on Sunday, you can also check out the Mushroom Fair,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Plant the Perimeter Fruit Tree Giveaway

Tree People and LACMA Present:

Plant the Perimeter Fruit Tree Giveaway
Sun, Feb 7, 12 noon - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, BP Grand Entrance, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
Artist collective Fallen Fruit kicks off a yearlong project, EATLACMA, with a fruit tree giveaway.

Come pick up a free fruit tree along with planting instructions for your garden. This is the first in a series of events, which will include an exhibition, opening in June, and a series of food-related events throughout the year.

EATLACMA is a year-long investigation into food, art, culture and politics. EATLACMA's projects consider food as a common ground that explores the social role of art and ritual in community and human relationships.

EATLACMA unfolds seasonally, with artist's gardens planted and harvested on the museum campus, hands-on public events, and a concurrent exhibition, Fallen Fruit Presents The Fruit of LACMA (June 27-November 7, 2010).

Image courtesy of Fallen Fruit

Monday, January 18, 2010

City Labs Community Service Fair

Just a quick post to let you know about an event this weekend that will let you help LA's community organizations by getting involved in community service! City Labs Community Service Fair is presenting this one-day fair to browse, discover and connect with 50 local non-profits — organizations doing great things who need your support to maintain sustainability.

Some of LA Farm Girl's favorite food and garden (and green) organizations are participating and need your help including:
LA Guerrilla Gardening
Food Forward
South Central Farmers' Health and Ed. Fund Tree People

Date: Saturday, January 23rd 2010
Hours: 11 am – 4 pm
Location: California Market Center’s Penthouse (110 East Ninth St. in downtown LA)
Donation at Door: $5 per person (includes entry, a free drink, and DIY workshops)

Free Workshops including Lazy Person’s Guide to Going Green w/YourDailyThread ‘Craft for a Cause’ area presented by Causecast :: pack and assemble food boxes for the city’s hungry.

There will be a lounge and even live music and raffle contests all day long including amazing prizes from Chronicle Books, local UNIQUELA designers and more!
Parking Information: The Parking Garage is located underneath the building, with parking entrances on Main Street and Los Angeles Street. There are also plenty of above-ground lots and a fair amount of street parking near the venue.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Only One Week Left to Apply For Master Gardener Program

I just wanted to let everybody know that January 15, 2010, is your last chance to request an application for the Los Angeles County 2010 Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program,

To get an application, Email Yvonne Savio, and let her know which elist(s) you're interested in: 1. Community Gardening and Food Security and/or 2. School Gardening.

Criteria: lots of prior community volunteering, passion for helping low-income residents.

Apply and join me, LA Farm Girl as a UC Master Gardener! It's great fun and so rewarding, plus you meet the nicest people doing something you love. What could be better?