play / 2021
LA's Mobile Farm
Sprouts of Promise wants all LA kids to have access to growing vegetables! With an LA2050 grant, we’ll convert a box truck into a farm on wheels and drive it to schools, parking lots and playgrounds. Prioritizing food deserts that lack green space, we’ll give city kids hands-on experience with growing veggies, fruit, and earthworms. When possible, we'll bring ultra-fresh excess produce from our farmers' markets. * In the US, poor diet is a leading cause of death. But ample studies show that kids with gardens eat their vegetables.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
LA is a healthy city. In most categories we beat the national averages. But poor diet remains a leading cause of death, and this risk isn’t distributed equally. Residents of LA’s food deserts are especially prone to diet-related illness (Robbins, 2020). With its insufficient access to nutritious food, South LA has the highest rate of diet-related death in LA County. Eating habits start young. Nine out of ten children in the US eat too few vegetables (CDC, 2014). And when it comes to getting kids to eat vegetables, access isn’t the only factor. Research shows that when kids encounter growing vegetables, vegetables in general become less scary, and kids eat them. But South LA has drastically insufficient green space. There are few places for kids to encounter any growing plants, much less growing vegetables. Without access to vegetables and growing plants, many parts of LA will continue to suffer from preventable diet-related deaths.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Studies show that students with high-quality garden education eat up to three times more vegetables. Or, as Ron Finley says, “Kids who grow kale, eat kale.” We want to put a farm on wheels and drive it around LA, giving kids hands-on familiarity with growing vegetables and inspiring schools to start gardens. LA’s Mobile Farm will prioritize food deserts and areas that lack green space, visiting schools during the week, and neighborhoods on weekends. Children will receive hands-on farm experience, and will be given their own seedlings to care for. The farm will empower schools to start their own gardens. We’ll provide connections to farm-to-school networks, and leverage our volunteer base to assist in garden creation. The farm will maintain a library of brochures on topics related to school gardening, with an index of healthy food hubs in local neighborhoods. Practically speaking, we’ll build the farm by replacing the side panels of a box with windows and installing garden containers in the truck’s bed. The containers will be removable, allowing us to swap them in and out of the truck, so that each new group of children will have fresh vegetables to harvest. The farm will have an earthworm vermicompost system, and will utilize traditional olla watering vessels. The Mobile Farm will be well ventilated. Should school closures persist, the truck will make scheduled neighborhood visits, focusing on drive-by farming enhanced with virtual tours.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
LA’s Mobile Farm will demystify vegetables for thousands of LA city kids, making them statistically likely to eat more vegetables throughout their lives. As a result they will be less likely to suffer from preventable diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. LA’s Mobile Farm will improve health outcomes and extend life across Los Angeles food deserts. It will offer stress-reducing and health-benefitting green space. As it helps schools to start gardens of their own, the healthy benefits will be multiplied. Cruising around the city, LA’s Mobile Farm will be a vegetable-positive mascot for LA residents to cheer. The mobile farm’s presence around town and on social media will be a passive, vegetable-positive presence for Angelenos.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We will consider LA’s Mobile Farm a success if in its first year the farm reaches the following objectives: * Visits 60 schools, providing high-quality, hands-on farm visits to 180 individual classes and over 5,000 elementary school students. * Gives seeds and seedlings to 5,000 students. * Assists with the establishment of three schools gardens. * Hosts 50 neighborhood “farm pop-ups,” attends 10 community events and connects 7,500 Angelenos with fresh sources of produce. Moreover, we will measure LA’s Mobile Farm’s success by the extent to which it becomes a beloved LA phenomenon, passively promoting vegetables by its presence in the city. We will measure the farm’s popularity relative to the following targets: * 15,000 combined Instagram and Twitter followers * 1,000 external instagram tags * 3 media appearances (including coverage or cameos in radio, TV, print journalism, or the creative arts).
Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.
Los Angeles Food Policy Council will advise Sprouts of Promise throughout the implementation of mobile farm community and school visits. LAFPC’s Executive Director, Christine Tran, has extensive school garden and farm-to-school expertise. LAFPC will leverage their extensive local networks, such as their farm-to-school and urban-agriculture working groups, for the benefit of LA’s Mobile Farm. On matters of farm-to-school best practices, culturally appropriate farm crops, and in targeting and prioritizing schools for visits, LAFPC is the ideal partner. Their knowledge will also be useful in the area of assisting schools in the creation of new school gardens.
Which of the play metrics will you impact?
- Public arts and cultural events
- Access to open space and park facilities
- Open streets gatherings
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT