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New agriculture park, community center, breaks ground in Watts


This week Tim Watkins, president of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) and a number of local partners broke ground on a new urban farm park and community center located at 103rd and Grape streets in Watts. In April of 2012, California State Parks annnounced the award to WLCAC of $4.9 million in Proposition 84 grant funds for the project.

This is a dream realized for WLCAC and Watts residents, who have been working together for nearly a decade to build the project, which will provide opportunities for everyone to enjoy: recreation, education, events, healthy produce and green space. The neighborhood faces a health crisis with high rates of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and infant mortality, exacerbated by limited access to healthy food and green space.

The project will include growing grounds, an orchard, fitness equipment, a community center, learning facilities and more.

The urban farm park will be named MudTown Farms in honor of the historic name for the area, MudTown. This new farm and park space will bring hope, and with its new growth, a new meaning and honoring of Watts’ rich history.

MudTown Farms is a 2.5 acre site, and Phase III of development will include: a cannery, general store, and a roadside produce stand.

MudTown Farms will not be simply an urban park or simply an urban farm. It will be a self-sustaining community center with education, job training, community gardening, farming, and entrepreneurship for stakeholders of all ages and backgrounds.

It is designed by and for the community it sits in, and will be upheld for years to come as a model for nurturing the spiritual, physical, and economic health of urban communities.

This project has come alive through partnerships with California State Parks, The City of Los Angeles Prop K program, Southern California Institute of Architecture, the Trust for Public Land, and Cal Poly Pomona, to bring the design and programming to fruition. It is expected to be completed in late 2018.

Also, on hand at the groundbreaking was the extremely passionate Janine Watkins who discussed the importance of the project to the community and how through reconnecting to the earth, they will reconnect with one another and build a better future for all Watts residents.

Agroecologist and urban farmer Eugene Cooke, Councilman Joe Buscaino, Dr. David Martens (specializing in hypertension treatment), environmental design specialist Erik Peterson, and Clare Fox of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council are all partnered on this worthwhile endeavor to improve the health and opportunity for Watts’ most underserved residents.