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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

USDA Expands People’s Garden Initiative to Sow Seeds for Community-Based Agriculture in Underserved Areas of Los Angeles

November 18, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a grant to the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT) to expand educational resources and programs related to community gardening and urban farming. This project will continue USDA’s efforts to combat malnutrition while supporting local and regional food systems.

“The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods around a common effort and inspire communities to find solutions to challenges facing our country–from hunger to the environment,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

The LANLT was one of only 10 grant recipients throughout the United States. The $29,000 grant will be invested in creating educational programs and outreach at four community gardens located in underserved areas of Los Angeles. LANLT is partnering with Children’s Nature Institute (CNI) in delivering the USDA grant at the four gardens.

“We are pleased to see that the USDA is helping support healthier communities in Los Angeles by investing in LANLT,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “We appreciate LANLT’s commitment to creating small, accessible parks and community gardens in the neighborhoods that need them the most.”

These sustainable community gardens will give residents of poor Los Angeles neighborhoods direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables. A lack of access to fresh and nutritious food fuels obesity and domestic food insecurity–a condition where households experience limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

“The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust is excited to partner with USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative to ensure that new and existing gardens in under-served areas are strong and play a vital role in bringing healthy food into communities that need it the most,” said Alina Bokde, executive director of the LANLT.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) manages the People’s Garden Grant Program (PGGP), with funding from the Agriculture Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program was designed to invest in urban and rural areas identified as food deserts or food insecure areas, particularly those with persistent poverty.

The People’s Garden Initiative is a grass roots effort to grow healthy food, people and communities. USDA is working with over 600 local organizations to create school gardens, community gardens and small-scale agriculture projects in urban and rural areas, collectively referred to as community-based agriculture.

“The Children’s Nature Institute is pleased to be providing educational curricula for community gardens for academic, social and community learning,” said Michelle Rhone-Collins, executive director of CNI. “With focused programming tailored to the neighborhoods, these gardens will be the ideal location for both individual growth and community building.”

Since 2009, People’s Gardens have expanded to all 50 states, three U.S. territories and five foreign countries. They are located at faith-based centers, on federal leased or owned property, at schools and other places within communities. All produce grown at a People’s Garden on USDA owned or leased property is donated to help those in need. USDA invites partners to share their harvests with neighborhood food pantries, kitchens and shelters, which helps improve access to healthy, affordable food at a local level. Search the People’s Gardens Interactive Map to find out where our gardens are located. To learn more or to register your community garden as a People’s Garden, visit www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.

About LANLT:

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust is the leading non-profit working to create urban parks and gardens in urban areas of Los Angeles. The organization was formed in 2002 as a 501c(3) with initial funding from the City of Los Angeles in response to a 2000 report by The Urban Land Trust Task Force, which documented the shortage of green and recreational spaces in the city’s underserved neighborhoods. Since then, the LANLT has played an important role in the creation, renovation and opening of nine parks and gardens, seven of which are managed and programmed by the LANLT and local community management committees.

The LANLT is currently in the planning stages for several new projects, four of which are in South Los Angeles and one in Pacoima. It has also received a major grant from the Community Redevelopment Agency, with the support of Councilmember Ed Reyes, to redevelop MC Garden, one of the LANLT’s earliest properties. Presently, the LANLT is focused on planning a major community groundbreaking for a wellness garden at Fremont High School in South Los Angeles. The one and a half acre site will also house a community health clinic operated by UMMA.

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