Urban Farm Debuts Roadside Stand In Time For Holidays

Tucked behind a scrubby hill, and right next to a cemetery, Farmlot 59 is one-sixth of an acre full of life. Organic green plants flourish in their boxes and chickens strut about on this small farm and this weekend, foodies, friends and families will have an opportunity to taste just how fresh food can be. Open from 10AM to 2PM for the first time this Saturday and Sunday, Farmstand 59—the community agriculture project's first roadside stand—will have the most fantastic veggies and freshest eggs available in town.

Farmlot 59, which is run by Farmer Sasha Kanno, has just reached its first year of operation, and Kanno is very excited to showcase several fresh vegetables to the community. On the list to be sold over the weekends are several leafy greens like swiss chard, rainbow chard and kale. What makes these leafy greens so good is that greens travel poorly. “Even organic greens, or greens you get on a farmer’s market, will have been harvested a couple of days before,” Kanno says. “If you can buy greens locally, that’s the best.”

Along with some fresh greens, the Farmstand will be selling some incredibly fresh and crisp green peas and a very aromatic lime basil, just in time for Thanksgiving cooking. But some of the most talked about items there will be dried luffa sponges. Luffas, also known as loofahs, start out as large green gourds. They then have to be peeled and dried, and can then be used as a natural, exfoliating sponge.

Farmlot 59 is run entirely by Kanno and her team of volunteers under the umbrella of Long Beach Local, a non-profit organization. Grant funding and donations have helped with the start up, but Kanno hopes that the Farmstand, which will start up in officially with a more consistent schedule in Spring, will help keep the farm sustainable.

There are also plans in the works to have more educational opportunities. “I want to build a learning center, and am always open to schools coming by,” Kanno says. Kanno is optimistic about also being able to do cooking demos at the Farmstand as well. “I want to introduce people to new tastes and varieties.”

What makes these plants so tasty? “Healthy soil,” Kanno says. “If you put a lot of effort into the soil, you get great food. If you don’t have healthy soil, you won’t have healthy plants.”

But despite all the hard work, “organic farming is extremely difficult,” she says. Fences had to be built around the Farm to keep out rabbits and coyotes which demolished crops in previous seasons. Organic oils have been used to keep out the harlequin bug from devouring cabbages.

Even though organic foods are generally more expensive than other groceries, Kanno has done her best to research pricing and price the food as comparably to grocery stores as she can. “It’s not the cheapest, but I guarantee it’s the best,” she says, a plump green pea snapping crisply in her mouth.

For those who see the words “organic” and just assume its arbitrarily increased prices, they couldn’t be more wrong. The hard work and dedication Sasha Kanno and her volunteers are evident in this little plot of land. The plants flourish brightly in contrast to the rocky hills that surround the farm, and the smell of fresh herbs is inescapable.

Farmstand 59 will also be open in the weekend before Christmas, and then will open for regular hours in the spring, and with a whole new crop of treats that will bring out the best taste in any dish.

Farmlot 59 and Farmstand 59 is located at 2714 California Ave., on the back side of the new Willow Springs Park. Farmstand 59 will be open this Saturday and Sunday from 10AM to 2PM. For more information on Farmlot 59, including how to volunteer, check out its website.

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