live / 2016

The Trellis Project: Growing health through gardening, nutritional support, and food access

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Groceryships and Netiya

Combining nutrition education and communal gardening to provide good food, a supportive community and water-wise, food productive landscapes at churches in underserved LA communities.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

Netiya, Groceryships, Emmanuel HM Turner AME Church, New Mount Calvary Church

Please describe your project proposal.

Groceryships and Netiya believe that a healthy life has two ingredients: whole foods and whole people. With the The Trellis Project, we’ll combine each organization’s expertise, offering one year of comprehensive food-focused education and community engagement from two distinct and interrelated perspectives: cooking and gardening. While the approaches are different, the intention is the same, to grow health by empowering local communities through existing support structures at their churches.

Which of the live metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Obesity
  • Local water
  • Resilient communities
  • Tree canopy cover
  • Mental illness

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to live?

To make Los Angeles the best place to LIVE, all residents need access to healthy food and sustainable green environments. Today, many don’t have this access; only 36% of residents live within a 5 minute walk to a grocery store and tree canopy cover only makes up 21% of our land (contrasted with a national average of 27%). Only 16% of the city is park land, and from 2007 to 2012 county farm land declined by 15%; only 3% of the total land area in the county is devoted to farming and only 2% of food consumed is locally produced. Access to community garden plots is in high demand and often too expensive due to fee hikes for water and the density of agricultural production associated with higher median income neighborhoods with higher percentages of white residents. Lack of access combined with health and environmental inequalities have dire consequences. 20% of LA County residents are obese and the poverty rate is 15%, one of the highest in the country. Poverty, obesity, and lack of access to fresh food are linked to negative health outcomes, including diabetes and depression.

The Trellis Project is a multi-pronged collaboration by two established nonprofits, Groceryships and Netiya, designed to address these health and environmental inequalities by integrating nutrition support education into pre-existing faith communities and making use of underused lands at congregations throughout LA County. Through LA2050 we propose to work at two south LA churches, offering Groceryships’ 20-week nutrition education support groups, the installation of two Netiya community gardens, and the Netiya Victory Garden certification course. Groceryships’ support groups include fresh produce “scholarships,” emotional support, and tools to consume more whole foods on a budget; Netiya offers the creation of water-wise community gardens on underused lands at faith-based institutions. Both empower communities to create lasting change in their food consumption habits, and increase access to healthy, whole foods.

Our two church partners, Emmanuel HM Turner AME Church and New Mount Calvary Church in Central Alameda, are home to a bustling community among the highest density neighborhoods in LA. Residents are 97% Latino and Black with a median household income of $32,000, well below the county median of $53,000. 28% of people in the 90011 zip code are food insecure, contrasted with 9% for the city overall, and the nearest grocery stores are over 4 miles away from our proposed garden sites. 35% of 90011 zip code’s residents are obese, compared to only 25% across LA County. Life expectancy here is estimated at 77.6 years, compared to 84.2 for West LA.

The Trellis Project will bring fresh produce and new ways of thinking about nutrition to the surrounding community. Food grown will supplement local food pantry offerings. Community residents can volunteer in the garden, participate in community events, and attend Groceryships’ and Netiya’s respective classes.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Both Groceryships and Netiya have extensive evaluation tools to measure success. For Groceryships’ programs, participants are surveyed on BMI, fruit, vegetable, and soda consumption, self-esteem, and quality of life scales developed by the WHO before and after the 20-week program. Netiya completes site-specific measurements after the community garden installs, tracking square footage converted into food-based gardens and percentage of produce grown that grows community food security. Netiya tracks the number of participants at garden work days, number of repeat garden volunteers, and participation in Garden courses.

Further success will be evidenced through community engagement. Netiya and Groceryships believe in empowering local community to gain the tools necessary to continue growing health beyond our initial year of funding. 70% of Groceryships groups are co-taught by graduates. We will train congregational leadership to lead future groups on-site. Additionally, congregational leaders can use Netiya gardens for educational purposes to host workshops and community gatherings on sustainable farming and food preserving methodology. We will track the number of garden volunteers who have begun or improved gardening at home, and continue to volunteer at their church or attend other gardening programs around LA County, the amount of food donations generated from the gardens, and the participation rate and occurrence of food drives and other related events at each church.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research