live Winner / 2020

Create a Residential Garden District in Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Crop Swap LA

We will select 15 homes on a residential street to install professional gardens and rainwater harvesting systems on their front yards, back yards, and available rooftops. We will train and hire a green team of gardeners to become a fleet of hyper-localized specialists, rotated between gardening trades, and paired in groups to learn from each other. For their participation, residents would receive a crop share as a part of the arrangement. This will serve as a model for creating jobs, food and a resilient society.


Has your proposal changed due to COVID-19?

Everyone will be required to wear masks, gloves, and to evaluate themselves as to whether they are healthy enough to assist in garden installations. Only minimal staff/volunteers are to be present for installations, and interactions with the home residents will remain scarce. Other activities have minimized but are still moving forward: fruit picking with gloves and masks, and the West Adams Farmers Market continues to run with approval from the city having visited to observe our containment tactics.

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

  • Central LA
  • South LA
  • Westside

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • Partnerships Lined Up include:
  • Erin Riley with Hope Gardens (vegetable and native garden installations)
  • Mike Garcia with Enviroscape (rainwater catchment installations)
  • Crop Swap LA (maintenance and distribution)
  • Chrysalis (part time labor and reentry support)
  • Tree People (orchard installations)
  • City Plants (seedlings)

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Partnerships Lined Up Erin Riley with Hope Gardens (vegetable and native garden installations) Mike Garcia with Enviroscape (rainwater catchment installations) Crop Swap LA (administration and distribution) Chrysalis (reentry citizen gardeners) Tree People (advising role: orchard installations) City Plants (advising role: seedlings)

What is the need you’re responding to?

Even before COVID-19 struck, Los Angeles was searching for solutions in all directions. Air quality was causing asthma in youth across the city. Access to healthy food looked more like deserts and institutionalized food manufacturing, causing a false sense of scarcity. Food security had meant nutrient-depleted agricultural fields, rendering it useless to decide between organic or not because the food still lacked what your body needs. Healthcare access meant preventive services that weren’t enough because nutrition was consistently ignored as medicine, itself. Joblessness alleviation was viewed through traditional workplace standards, excluding most non-transitional laborers. Local water was a billion gallons of water shipped to LA each day, yet we could collect and reuse that much rainwater.

In our proposal, hiring a green force of gardeners to create food on volunteered front yards will address these concerns, creating economic prosperity for each party involved.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

The organization began because the founder wanted fresh, dependable food for his incoming daughter, and understood the delicate nature of the food system. He first began gardening in college in 2002 as a stress reliever, and began Crop Swap LA in 2018. Drawing the attention of other community gardeners in person and online, the organization of volunteers has built one backyard garden, harvested tons of fruit from residents’ trees for community benefit and opened the West Adams Farmers Market as a community staple for food options. The membership boast numerous resiliency skills like growing nutrient-rich food, composting, rain water harvesting, seed libraries, landscaping, rooftop garden construction, aeroponics, hydroponics, preservation, and much more. Getting the attention of TIME Magazine and the Mayor of LA, all of this has come together with no budget. We are asking for your support to trigger our momentum and turn this dream into a reality.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

150
Direct impact
1,500
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The impact begins with the 4 full time green employed gardeners and their families, and extends to the 7 residential families in low income neighborhoods who will receive them. Assuming two apartment buildings participate, and 5 single family residents, this could amount to 65+ people. Indirectly, whoever purchases nutrient-grown food will be eating the healthiest food in the city. This will be available at farmers markets, mobile food trucks, and direct to home. It’s also known that front yard gardens that use rainwater catchment and onsite composting can significantly improve air quality. A study in Santa Barbara suggests CA could reach 8% of its greenhouse gas reduction goals by installing front yard gardens, helping neighbors nearby.

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

We will install front yard gardens, rain water harvesting systems, and composting for 7 low-income ($35k/y) residential families along a single street. Each garden will be professionally designed and managed by urban farmers for high-productivity and efficiency.

Our goals are:

  • To grow healthy food locally (3,500 lbs of food per household per year)
  • To create 4 green jobs along the way (FT, salaried, subsidized by farmers market sales)

Envision lovers strolling down this street and passing by a Crop Swap LA gardener, Kris, who is a recently hired reentry citizen and single parent. This is her full time job now, maintaining front yard gardens, harvesting the bounty from them, and transporting them to the market. The lovers also say hello to a neighbor who is tending her own front yard garden. She shares how energetic she’s been since working in the yard. She’s also grateful to earn a percentage of the revenue that Crop Swap LA makes, so doesn’t mind their gardeners passing through to keep it up.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Water-use efficiency
  • Resilient communities

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Capacity, including staff
  • Strategy assistance and implementation
  • Political influence on policies that could improve gardening