South L.A. community gardens slated to open this summer

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By 2UrbanGirls

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The Faith Community Coalition is receiving a grant from Logos Faith Development and is pleased to announce the sponsorship of two new community gardens in the South Los Angeles area.

Two churches will receive scholarships of $2,000 each towards the creation of the gardens. Their goal is to provide resources toward developing healthy eating options in areas deemed as food deserts.

“The [U.S. Department of Agriculture] defines a ‘food desert’ as an area that has limited access to affordable and healthy food,” said Rev. Jennifer Oliver, who is a community-based food justice advocate. “There are many food deserts within the South L.A. area, as well as a wide variety of organizations that work to mitigate the problem of food insecurity in various ways.

“However, the USDA also notes, in one study, that minorities and poverty (low income, high unemployment) are more prevalent in food deserts,” Oliver added. “These issues persist as community development and infrastructure are neglected.

“Food justice is not just a health issue, but it is also an economic justice issue. So, at the very basic level, our goal is to enrich and empower the community by providing healthy, locally grown food … but on a larger scale, our goal is to foster collaborative partnerships to build capacity for a community-based food system capable of promoting economic vitality and social equity. Hopefully, the gardens will serve as our entry point in participating in the larger consumer market.”

Food deserts are not a new phenomena in South Los Angeles and community gardens are one way to begin to address creating healthier eating options within the minority community.

“I watched as supermarkets in South Los Angeles burned during the 1992 civil unrest, which created food deserts for Black and brown people,” said Pastor John Cager, founder of the Faith Community Coalition. “These grants will provide access to fresh, healthy options for [people of color].”

The COVID-19 global pandemic has also highlighted the need to maintain a healthy immune system, which can be achieved with a healthy diet and healthy eating options. A local nonprofit has teamed up with a food justice advocate and two South L.A. churches to sponsor community gardens for their members and the community at large.

I have worked with Martin Porter, as a part of the Faith Community Coalition, for about two or so years, as the health and wellness coordinator and as I heard about the work that he and his team was doing through Logos, I decided to share with him some ideas that I had about using the food system as a mode of community development,” Oliver said. “Our mission and values seemed to line up, and after a few conversations, we received the sponsorship and support for this initiative.”

The gardens will be sustainable and produce fruits and vegetables year-round. The goal is to deliver produce with zero pesticides and no genetically modified organisms, and designed to be community based to assist with upkeep.

“It’s my desire that as we fund and support these new community gardens in South Los Angeles, we can play a small role in helping to connect people to Kingdom Living,” said Martin Porter, managing partner of Logos Faith Development. “That we can connect them to a healthy positive vision of life that is built on God’s desire for us to garden the land and in doing so tend to the garden of our souls.”

2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood area. She can be reached at 2urbangirls@gmail.com.