live / 2021

No-Cost Open Farmers Market

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Sowing Seeds of Change

Our goal is simple: to feed our community and do so with dignity, integrity, and with the ultimate goal of food sovereignty. Our No Cost-Open Farmers Market program will provide food access to hundreds of individuals in our community. The program will create a triad of good, by diverting food from landfills, creating jobs for marginalized populations, and engaging the recipients of our food program in activities and workshops that will ultimately empower them to directly influence their food system.

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

  • South Bay

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The food access issue in Westside Long Beach is one that plagues many LA County neighborhoods with similar demographics - there is no food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the idea that people should have ownership and input into the food system, rather than being subject to the systemic and economic drivers that lead to the conditions that create food deserts and geographic disparities. Everyone is entitled to culturally appropriate, healthy food choices that support their communities. A food system should not be driven completely by outside forces beyond people’s understanding or control. Rather, people deserve to understand deeply the roots of their food and to experience the dignity of choice and quality in their food supply. Our innovative approach to food distribution will pave the way towards true local food sovereignty in Long Beach by empowering local residents, especially those traditionally disenfranchised from local food systems, to create the future of food in our city.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Access to culturally appropriate healthy food is a universal right. To build food access in a dignified manner while promoting food sovereignty, our program will provide a No-Cost Open Farmers Market to the community where our Urban Farm is located. We are in an area of Long Beach that is considered a food desert according to the USDA, and is impacted by high levels of food insecurity due to low incomes. This program will provide free access to healthy food grown on our farm. We’ve also partnered with a food rescue organization to divert good food from the landfill. We will also provide recipients with tools to incorporate produce into their diets through nutritional education, cooking demonstrations, and recipes. We will provide information on CalFresh and help with the application process to further improve food access and security. Our Market will be run by Sowing Seeds Of Change vocational program participants, who are individuals with disabilities and foster youth aged 18-24. Thus, our proposed market program will not only improve food access in the neighborhood, but provides employment opportunities to local marginalized youth with historically low employment outcomes. Our vocational program will provide on-going mentorship to our participants to ensure they are able to carry out all the duties necessary for a successful weekly market. Our model will develop community around food by empowering our youth participants to serve as food ambassadors for their community.

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.

The Sowing Seeds of Change model is intended for replication. We have made connections with non-profits who are supporting our No-Cost Farmers Market initiative; including Food Finders and Armanda Unified. We are creating a network of vested agencies who will be able to replicate the program. The impact of our No-Cost market can be multiplied exponentially. The low cost of starting a farm on properties owned by local jurisdictions allows for ease of start-up relative to the potential impact of each farm. Pairing produce grown on-site with diverted food waste improves food system efficiency. We envision LA County where everyone has a farm within walking distance. We will create green public spaces that facilitate sharing food knowledge, so that people develop a sense of ownership leading to food sovereignty. Our initial goal is to start by creating no-cost markets in all of Long Beach’s food desert neighborhoods then extending it to Wilmington, Carson and beyond.

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 measure: a) number of pounds of healthy food distributed weekly b) number of weekly repeat recipients by keeping a digital registry of names, and contact info, and demographics c) number of recipients who utilized healthy food recipes provided with their groceries via periodic surveys taken in the no-cost market check out process d) number of participants employed in our no-cost market e) number of recipients who accessed additional resources such as Calfresh For above metrics, we define success as: a) distributing 200 pounds of fresh produce each week b) providing food to 6,900 target participants, 50% of those participants returning to the market at least once c) 50% of participants try the healthy recipes d) employing at least 5 employees aged 18-24 referred from Special Education services and/or the foster system e) ensuring 100% of our participants are aware of additional food security resources like CalFresh

Which of the live metrics will you impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Food insecurity

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT