The Growing Experience: Urban farm is a vital link in LB’s green supply chain

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The Growing Experience began in 1996, as a joint collaboration between the Community Development Commission (CDC), County of Los Angeles and the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCOOP).  The program seeks to provide public housing residents with an opportunity to access a community garden in an urban setting while also giving them an opportunity to learn valuable skills in the multi-million dollar “green industry” in a paid job-training program.

The Growing Experience offers a landscape training program that teaches participants with a mix of classroom knowledge and hands-on field experience.

Their Summer Youth Program has given many teens their first employment experience. In addition to landscaping, the youths also learn team-building skills and basic work ethics, which will carry them forward into their future careers.

Individual raised plots allow Carmelitos residents to grow their own organic vegetables and fruits.

The Growing Experience features edible plants as well, grown using sustainable methods whereby the soil is replenished and enriched. There is no use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.  A wide variety of heirloom vegetables are grown and provided to public housing residents of Carmelitos at low-cost during informal farmers’ market sales onsite.

Part of the movement to make Long Beach a greener place, The Growing Experience is in an integral link in the green supply chain. The local agriculture program trains residents for green jobs and supplies local businesses with fresh produce. Vegetables and other produce is also served at several local restaurants including McKenna’s on the Bay. The urban farm also works with BeachGreens, a company that provides home-delivery of fresh, locally-grown produce.

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