Cover photo courtesy of Avenue 33 Farm
Rooted Horizons: Growing Food By and For Angelenos
In a globalized economy, Los Angeles County is a major powerhouse in the food industry. Despite the significant role our region plays in our global food supply chain, a large portion is not intended for local consumption. As a result, many neighborhoods across the county’s 88 cities experience high levels of food insecurity and limited access to fresh produce. To address these inequalities, local leaders are turning to urban agriculture in hopes of achieving a triple bottom line of social, environmental, and financial returns of investment.
Urban agriculture encompasses various initiatives, from small educational gardens to large-scale urban farms, utilizing a range of techniques and technologies. Its potential extends beyond nourishing communities to improving community health and socio-economic conditions through community engagement and workforce development. However, there is a need for frameworks that connect community collaborations, philanthropic resources, and government policies to advance Los Angeles County’s urban agricultural network. This report examines the innovations, barriers, and promising opportunities in advancing urban agriculture in the county.
Larta Institute and Los Angeles Food Policy Council Publish Study on Gaps, Barriers and Opportunities for Urban Agriculture in Los Angeles
“Rooted Horizons: Growing Food by and for Angelenos” identifies infrastructural, bureaucratic and operational challenges facing urban farmers and suggests recommendations to advance urban agriculture in LA County.
Larta thanks the following organizations and businesses for their participation:
- ALMA Backyard Farms
- ASYRS Bridge
- Avenue 33 Farm
- Crop Swap Los Angeles
- Destination Crenshaw
- Edible Healing Garden
- Growing Hope Gardens
- Growing Roots
- LA Green Grounds
- Los Angeles Community Garden Council
- Moonwater Farm
- Old Grove Orange
- Prosperity Market
- Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles
- The BirdHouse
- The Climate Reality Project
- Torrance Memorial Medical Center
- University of California Cooperative Extension
- University of California Master Gardeners
- Willowbrook Community Garden
Larta Institute and Los Angeles Food Policy Council were assisted in this work by many individuals and institutions. We wish to name a few of them whose contributions were consistent throughout the period of the preparation.
Efrain Escobedo commissioned this Report for the California Community Foundation. Until his departure to take the helm of the Center for Nonprofit Management, Efrain was the principal driver of our discussions on the direction and imperatives of the Report. His insights and knowledge of the issues around food, entrepreneurship, land use and the overall state of funding were invaluable as we were considering the contours of the Report.
Lisa Cleri Reale, representing the Annenberg Foundation, was closely associated with the work and launch of the Food Equity Roundtable’s Report, which formed the basis for this Report. Lisa was a steadfast and consistent supporter and muse throughout the process.
Lauren Uy of California Community Foundation, who took over as the point of contact after Efrain’s departure, was instrumental in maintaining continuing focus on the constituents served and also was responsible with Lisa for the initial briefing on the Report in July 2023, featuring the people behind the case studies presented in the Report.
The team at LAFPC, including Christine Tran (who has since left LAFPC, but remains an influential and knowledgeable figure in food system issues in the region) and Taylor Clark, the principal writer and researcher of the Report. The collaboration between LAFPC and Larta was a high point of the formation of the Report, and Taylor was a major reason why this was so. Janet Valenzuela was also a key LAFPC team member, providing instrumental perspective on indigenous-based practices, environmental justice, and regional history as well as facilitating connections with the urban agriculture community.
Nicola Kerslake of Contain Ag is a well known figure globally in urban and indoor ag. She is knowledgeable about capital markets and policy issues driving incentives in the sector, and contributed insights throughout the Report. She has been a close associate and friend of Larta Institute.
The team at Larta Institute, including Danielle Pachuta for her graphics and design skills and Julie Mai for her marketing and communications work on this Report. Finally to my colleague, Carlos Gutierrez, who shares with me the credit for conceiving and developing this project and this Report. – Rohit Shukla, Founder & CEO, Larta Institute
In 2022, we worked closely with 589 startups. To emphasize our commitment to impact, we collaborated with them through the prism of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. We also committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in our selection process, and especially focused on under-represented entrepreneurs. Within our 2022 portfolio, startups who identified as women- or minority-led ventures grew to 48%.