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Urban farming initiative targets South, West LA


Creating sustainable, community-led projects

Partnership for Growth LA, a nonprofit, interfaith community development corporation on Friday announced the launch of Freedom Farms, a groundbreaking new urban farming initiative aimed at addressing food instability and economic inequality throughout parts of South and West LA.

The Freedom Farms program–created out of a historic partnership between McCarty Memorial Christian Church and Jewish Center for Justice–is inspired by a long history of Black-owned farming co-ops. The program will focus on creating sustainable, community-led economic development for Black, Latino and other communities of color that have faced a lack of investment throughout history.

Partnership for Growth Los Angeles, led by Rev. Eddie Anderson (CEO) and Rabbi Joel Simonds (president), announced the Freedom Farms initiative at a press conference on July 7, , along with Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (55th District), State Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (28th District) and other local community leaders.

“We’re redefining hyperlocal farm-to-table, planted and grown with this diverse community. Our master farmers are teaching people how to farm, and then the produce that we are cultivating will be sold to local markets and restaurants,” said Rabbi Simonds. “This will be a model of how we use and think about urban space. Our mission and vision is to grow right here in the community and for this to be replicated throughout the country so that other congregations and other small plots of land can be used to cultivate healthy food.”

“As the rest of the country and other neighborhoods recover from the pandemic, our community is being left behind in many ways. Many of us are living paycheck to paycheck and are still looking to find grocery stores in our communities where we have access to healthy and affordable food,” said Rev. Anderson, pastor of McCarty Memorial Christian Church in the West Adams District. “In South and West LA there are not that many grocery stores that have good, healthy food. We can change this by partnering with our community partners, members and master farmers to put our hands in the dirt and bring healthy food to our community.”

The launch of the program comes as 1 in 4 (24%) households in L.A. County experienced food insecurity in 2022. On top of that, more than half (10 of 18) of food retail stores across South LA do not sell any fresh fruits or vegetables — yet South LA has only 0.10 large-scale supermarkets per square mile, and West LA has 0.14 per square mile.

“This is one of the most overdeveloped countries on the planet, with an agricultural industry that is not doing all that it can to make sure that all of us are fed, are nourished and are able to live sustainable lives,” said Rep.Kamlager-Dove.  “With this new partnership, Los Angeles is staking its claim and hopefully will be a beacon for how we merge state, public and private enterprise to elevate progressive movements of resistance, advocate for economic and environmental justice and showcase how we can feed our own with our own.”

The Freedom Farms program will begin as a three year pilot, focused on building partnerships with local community gardens, nonprofits and businesses to establish systems, build infrastructure and generate longer term financial and community support for the program and local urban farms. The program will coordinate and scale urban farming and gardening efforts across South and West LA, leveraging local urban agricultural expertise and creating economically sustainable food distribution to local food businesses.

In the first year of the Freedom Farms program, Partnership for Growth LA is setting a goal of establishing 15 farms in South and West LA in collaboration with partners, including founding 5 new urban farms and investing technical support into 10 existing farms. Over the next three years, the organization’s goal is to establish 37 farms through intentional growth and partnerships.