In the heart of Los Angeles, a collaborative effort between the Larta Institute and the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) has yielded an enlightening report that delves into the rich tapestry of urban agriculture within the sprawling metropolis. The study, titled “Rooted Horizons: Growing Food by and for Angelenos,” presents an intricate analysis of the historical, current, and future urban agriculture landscape in Los Angeles County. By uncovering challenges, pinpointing opportunities, and offering practical recommendations, this report underscores the potential of urban agriculture to address pressing issues of food insecurity, sustainability, and community well-being.
Despite its status as a significant food exporter, Los Angeles County struggles with food insecurity, with one in four households facing this challenge. The “Rooted Horizons” report dives into the core of this paradox, attributing this disconnect to a lack of localized food production and an absence of community-centered approaches to nutrition. This study argues that prioritizing urban agriculture within the county can lay the groundwork for more resilient and equitable food systems.
Key points highlighted in the report present a holistic strategy for advancing urban agriculture in Los Angeles County:
- Community Engagement: The report emphasizes the importance of establishing direct connections between residents and their food by fostering small farms within residential spaces. This approach not only promotes food accessibility but also strengthens community bonds.
- Aggregation and Scaling: The creation of methods and infrastructure for aggregating and scaling products is proposed to harness the economic and social benefits of small urban farms. This facilitates a more efficient distribution system and supports local economies.
- Hyperlocal Food Hubs: The concept of hyperlocal food hubs takes center stage, providing urban agricultural entrepreneurs and communities with resources such as technical assistance, marketplaces, and access to funding.
- Integration of Food Assistance Programs: The report calls for closer integration of established food assistance programs like CalFresh into a comprehensive urban agriculture program, offering a multi-faceted approach to addressing food insecurity.
Its commitment to a holistic approach to urban agriculture sets the “Rooted Horizons” report apart. The report envisions a revival of the region’s agricultural heritage by drawing inspiration from historical agricultural practices, including Indigenous wisdom. This approach provides economic opportunities across various occupations and paves the way for sustainable and resilient communities.
The report highlights the success of Compton, a city within Los Angeles County, as a shining example of urban farming facilitation. Clear regulatory pathways and strategies that empower urban agriculture have turned Compton into a model of what can be achieved with the proper infrastructure and support.
The foundation of the “Rooted Horizons” report is built on collaboration and dedicated funding. The California Community Foundation (CCF) provided a grant to the Larta Institute for this research. Moreover, the report builds upon the efforts of the Los Angeles Food Equity Roundtable, a partnership focusing on addressing disparities in the local food system. Supported by the Annenberg Foundation, CCF, and the Weingart Foundation, the Roundtable plays a vital role in advocating for integrated food distribution and development strategies.
The “Rooted Horizons” report envisions a Los Angeles County where urban agriculture plays a pivotal role in achieving food sovereignty and environmental justice. The report charts a course toward a more sustainable and equitable future by endorsing local farmers and integrating community-centered approaches. This effort bolsters the availability of locally grown, nutritious food choices and fosters economic growth and resilience.
As the report concludes, the vision of a transformed Los Angeles County, empowered by the principles of urban agriculture, hinges on the collaborative efforts of organizations, communities, and policymakers. With “Rooted Horizons” as a roadmap, the journey towards a more just and sustainable food system is underway.