Farming Takes Hold in Undeveloped Areas of Los Angeles


28 June, 2017

For years, farming on empty land was a big issue in one of America's biggest cities -- Los Angeles, California.

The city government refused to permit planting of crops in vacant, undeveloped areas.

But Los Angeles residents pressured local leaders to let them grow food in open spaces, including strips of land between the street and sidewalks.

Two years ago, city officials gave residents permission to plant crops in such spaces.

Ron Finley is now growing food on a small piece of land near his home. He spends most of his mornings there.

"This is a food forest. There's fruit trees, there's also weeds that are edible in here. I want to educate people to the fact that there's food all around you."

The Los Angeles man often speaks to groups. He urges them to start community gardens much like his.

Finley has been growing crops in the city for many years -- even before the government gave its permission. Until recently, he had been told by city officials not to do so. He had even been ordered to go to court.

Tomatoes, edible flowers, fruits and vegetables are not often seen in the inner city. It is easier to buy unhealthy food and alcoholic drinks.

Tamiko Nakamoto helps 22 people grow crops in their community garden in South Los Angeles. He says they are growing both fruits and vegetables.

"Collard greens, sugar cane, banana, tomato trees, cabbage."

This month, the Los Angeles city council agreed to lower property taxes for people who let their vacant land be used as community gardens.

Finley says urban gardening is good for everyone. Because of the gardens, more families in the city are eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

"And it's making you healthy all over, not just your body, your mind-set, everything because looking at this, smelling this affects every sense in your body."

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

VOA Correspondent Mike O'Sullivan reported this story from Los Angeles. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

vacant – adj. not filled, used or lived in

resident – n. someone who lives in a particular place

strip – n. a long, narrow piece of land

weeds – n. a plant that grows very quickly where it is not wanted and covers or kills more desirable plants

edible – adj. suitable or safe to eat

mind-set – n. a particular way of thinking; a person's attitude or set of opinions about something