Urban gardens can serve as multi-benefit spaces that build long term climate change resilience, food security, and job training. Community Services Unlimited (CSU) is developing the South Central Growers Network which will support a growing number of urban gardens allow urban farmers to share resources and sell their home grown produce to South L.A.’s First Organic Marketplace. The goal is to build long term climate change resilience and self-reliance in food security.
The food environment in South LA is grim: a disproportionately high number of liquor stores, fast-food chains, and corner/convenience stores. Only 75% of the food retail outlets sell fresh fruits and vegetables, compared to over 90% of outlets in the wealthier areas of West LA.
Residents have the highest rates of obesity in adults and children in the county. Adults have the highest rate of diabetes (10%) and hypertension (28%), and are 4x’s more likely to die from diabetes than those living in the wealthiest area of the city. Economic inequities exacerbate this problem. The community has been neglected, underdeveloped, under resourced and made the site of some of the worst environmental pollution in the city.
In July 2015 CSU purchased a 10,000 sq foot South LA property (at S Vermont and W 66th St.) that they have been re-designing with multiple partners to house the Paul Robeson Community Wellness Center. This will include South LA’s 1st Organic Produce Market, a café selling healthy food and drinks, a commercial kitchen, an urban farm, community meeting and programming space. The center will house CSU’s popular and well known community greening programs and be a location for our educational events designed to raise awareness of the global issues impacting the community, such as climate change.