OP-ED: On the Heels of EcoFarm, Farm Lot 59 Issues Call to Action for Urban Agriculture

Farm Lot 59 is the definition of a community farm. As a food hub that serves the greater Long Beach area and beyond, we create an outdoor community space where skills grow, healthy ideas take root and people become inspired.

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I’ve met and worked with thousands of people in the eight years I have been in local agriculture. Our visitors often don't know the basics, so I teach the basics, like how to use a shovel or push a wheelbarrow. I often teach what real food looks like as well, with lessons like how to find a tomato amidst its green leaves.

We work hard, and the soil shows it. We just so happen to get amazing produce out of that soil, which then creates jobs and many other opportunities for our visitors and the farm.

I just returned home from the 37th annual EcoFarm Conference in Monterey County and am deeply inspired by the great work being done. Santa Cruz-based "Food What?!" is a program that empowers youth to be proud of themselves, embrace their voice and understand their food rights. Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley is phenomenal. They joined forces with a local high school and other community partners for training programs and to provide a safe place for people to be and learn.

San Francisco's Bi-Rite market is a farm, creamery, and retail store. They offer training programs to the community and welcome back everyone who has gone through their programs. San Francisco Unified School District is totally on board, and supports real world garden classrooms, cooking schools and farming academies, and is dedicated to forming programs that directly benefit the youth.

When I come across programs like these, I see people who choose work that provides love and dignity in a field of crucial relevance to community health and I appreciate the transformative mutual power of vital partnerships. When we train others, we are no longer reaching the few around us; we are empowering those around us to pass along a critical life skill—a knowledge of food—to thousands more people who we may never know.

File photo courtesy of Farm Lot 59.

Farm Lot 59 is our amazing place to come to. It's a peaceful oasis surrounded by nature and varieties of plants from around the globe. It’s a safe place where people of any race and gender can share and receive full respect. It's not about farming—well, it is—but it's more. It's about food policy, transparency, the restaurant industry, retail, chemistry, soil science, education, food culture... it's endless. Your local farm is a hub for all kinds of good things.

Community farms like Farm Lot 59 are not meant to grow massive food crops. Instead, we teach people where food comes from, how to grow it, how to cook it and how make a living doing so. Humans have been cultivating crops for about 12,000 years, but many people today have forgotten their connection to food. Local farms are keeping this knowledge alive, and bringing people together through good hard work.

We need to come together as a city and put an end to food insecurity and food ignorance, and Farm Lot 59 is here to help. Dial in and stay informed, participate and give back. Learn about building a cooperative market, supporting our local economy and eating at locally owned restaurants that support their local farm. Reach out to Farm Lot 59 to explore a new partnership. You live here, work here and raise your family here. Let's work together to be the change that Long Beach needs.

Sasha Kanno is the founder of Long Beach Local, an agriculture-based nonprofit. She is the farmer and vision behind Farm Lot 59. She teaches at Farm Lot 59 and Maple Village Waldorf School. She has been awarded numerous grants and awards for her work in the community as a leader, innovator and driving force in the local food movement. She lives in Wrigley with Nelson, Nalu, some fish and a few chickens.

For more information about Farm Lot 59, visit the Facebook page here

Farm Lot 59 is located at 2714 California Avenue.

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