Whole Life Magazine

August / September 2017

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/859762

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 35

city of angels LOS ANGELES SPROUTS NEW COMMUNITY FARMS By Kathy Vilim Urban Oasis Gardens I magine green gardens popping up all over the place, soft- ening the harsh cement sidewalks and chain-link fences of the city. When the Los Angeles City Council voted to join California State's Urban Agricultural Incentive Zone Program (AB 551) on June 13, 2017, they gave us the opportunity to help beautify our neighborhoods by creating small urban farms. The State's Urban Agricultural Incentive Zone Program (AB 551) gives incentives in the form of property tax rebates on empty lots when property owners agree to use them exclusively for farming. AB 551 benefi ts both people with unused lots and people who want to fi nd lots to grow food. What is the Purpose of the Urban Initiative? According to Breanna Hawkins, policy director for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, (http://goodfoodla.org) the pur- pose of the program is to end what she calls the "food apart- heid conditions" found in "low-income areas and communities of color that have been divested and under-resourced for de- cades." Areas where there are no stores selling fresh vegeta- bles are known as "food deserts," and they are altogether too common in parts of Los Angeles. The city is also hoping to clean up some deserted lots, there- by beautifying neighborhoods and keeping them safe from loitering and crime. This program offers great opportunities to create more community gardens throughout Los Angeles. Per- fect for Angelenos who just want to grow food! Why Create Community Gardens? New community gardens can grow food for Angelenos who live in a food deserts without produce markets nearby. Health-conscious apartment dwellers can have their own plot in a community garden and grow enough healthy food for themselves. Gardens can also teach children where food comes from: Food comes from plants that grow in the earth. Children who grow their own vegetables eat their own vegetables. Neighborhoods all over Los Angeles will benefi t by replacing eyesore empty lots with more green space, trees that provide shade, and fl owers mixed in vegetable beds that attract polli- nators. This program benefi ts property owners fi nancially, espe- cially if the owner is a senior on a fi xed income. It can be a huge fi nancial burden to have that extra tax bill come due on a lot where they do not live. If they turn the land into a small urban farm growing vegetables, that burden is removed. . Application is Required: If you have an extra lot that is not being used, you can now grow vegetables on your lot, subsidized by the city in the form of Property Tax Rebates. Owners who are interested in tak- ing advantage of the program need to submit applications. Apply here: http://planning.lacounty.gov/assets/upl/apps/ uaiz_application.pdf Certain restrictions apply: 1. The property must be designated for exclusively agricul- tural use for a period of fi ve years. 2. The lot must between 0.1 and 3 acres. 3. There can be no other structure on the property except those needed for growing food. 4. The property cannot be subdivided in an effort to be- come eligible. 5. The property must be free of any toxic substances. From food desert to food oasis: What if you want to get a rebate on your property taxes but do not want to do your own gardening? Fortunately, there are groups who are happy to take over the farming for you. In fact, neglected lots are just the kind of land that non-profi ts like FarmLA.org work to rescue. FarmLA was started by Jason Wood and Emily Gleicher, cer- tifi ed Victory Gardeners. The couple started FarmLA.org so that they could do something about the abundance of underutilized land. Instead of empty lots sitting neglected, they wanted to turn them into farm lands to give back to those in need. I caught up with Emily Gleicher, Executive Director of Farm- LA, who said, "Farm LA is a local 501(c)(3) non-profi t organiza- tion dedicated to rescuing underutilized land in Los Angeles for sustainable energy projects and drought-tolerant agricultural farming. We are so excited about UAIZ AB 551 passing because LOS ANGELES SPROUTS NEW COMMUNITY FARMS LOS ANGELES SPROUTS NEW COMMUNITY FARMS LOS ANGELES SPROUTS NEW COMMUNITY FARMS By Kathy Vilim LOS ANGELES SPROUTS NEW COMMUNITY FARMS 8 wholelifetimes.com

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - August / September 2017