Meals Insecurity Is Growing In LA. How Microfarms Can Assist

Start your day with LAist

Sign up for How To LA, delivered weekday mornings.

There’s nothing in this world like fresh produce handpicked from Mother Earth. I can appreciate this because I grew up in a working-class neighborhood that today would be called a food desert. There just weren’t a lot of places close by that had fresh, healthy, affordable food to buy.

About How to LA Newsletter

  • This is the web version of our How To LA newsletter. Sign up here to get this newsletter sent to your inbox each weekday morning

What You Should Know About Food Deserts

Due to racial segregation and poverty, food deserts mostly impact communities of color nationwide, especially Black neighborhoods. In Los Angeles, food deserts have been identified in parts of South LA and the San Gabriel Valley, as well as in areas around Commerce and Bell. Now, inflation is making access to food even harder. Food insecurity — which means a disruption in consistent eating — increased in LA County in 2022, jumping from roughly 553,000 households last year to more than 800,000 this year. That’s according to data from the University of Southern California’s Understanding America study.

A picture of a sign that has information about Asante Microfarm

But there are people working on solutions. Jamiah Hargins is the founder and executive director of Crop Swap LA. Through the cultivation of microfarms around Los Angeles — usually in someone’s front yard — he is creating a local food distribution system in the neighborhoods that need it the most. Hargins says he gets input from the community through surveys about what kind of food to plant. Hey says:

“In some neighborhoods we imagine there’ll be more collard greens, okra… and kales. In other neighborhoods there may be more cilantro, tomatoes, onions, peppers…That’s another part that’s great about this movement, it creates a confluence of culture and experience.”

Another thing that’s cool? Not only are people able to obtain fresh produce from these microfarms, Hargins offers employment opportunities for people who live within the area as well.

A black man in a yellow jacket stands in front of a mural of himself that reads: "Black excellence is a seed and you just need to water."

Jemiah Hargins, founder and executive director of Crop Swap LA, stands in front of a mural in Leimert Park. The art was painted in honor of him and his work in food insecurity in LA

For more about Hargins’ mission and how Crop Swap LA works, listen to the latest How To LA podcast. My colleague, How to LA host Brian De Los Santos, stopped by the Asante microfarm in View Park to talk to Hargins about all of it. It’s a great conversation. Check it out here.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

more news

(After you stop hitting snooze)

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding!

  • The final vote count is now official in Los Angeles County after a month of tallying hundreds of thousands of ballots. It turns out that fewer people voted this year than in the last midterm election.
  • Anaheim Mayor-elect Ashley Aitken will be sworn in later on today along with three new council members. This comes after former Mayor Harry Sidhu resigned after an FBI investigation concerning a now-cancelled sale of Angel Stadium went public.
  • Across California, there’s been a rise in hospitalizations of senior citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19. Only a third of vaccinated seniors age 65 and older have received the latest booster. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Following months of high gas prices, and a belief that oil companies had a hand in price gouging, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a plan today to cap oil refinery profits in California. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The deadline for state Real ID cards has been pushed back to May 7, 2025 in order to give states much needed time to obtain the new ID.
  • A new tool launched by Columbia Journalism Review shows how racial bias comes into play when reporting missing people.
  • Actress Kirstie Alley has died of cancer that was only recently diagnosed, her family announced Monday. She shot to fame after being cast in the beloved TV show Cheers.
  • During Monday’s World Cup match South Korea fell to Brazil in their round of 16 match. This marks only the third time South Korea has qualified for the knockout round.
  • And in case you were wondering what was up with the Dodger Stadium traffic on Saturday, LA Taco catches us up on the five best moments from the Bésame Mucho music festival that took place in the parking lot.

Wait! One More Thing…Life Changing Albums


Lauryn Hill (pictured performing at New Orleans Jazz Fest earlier this month) will perform her classic “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” at the Rock the Bells Festival

Like many Black Gen Xers and Millennials, I grew up adoring Lauryn Hill. But it was her debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, that had the most impact in my life. Even though it was released when I was still a young kid, songs like “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Ex-Factor” stayed in my head for years. As I got older, the album gained a deeper meaning for me. In the interludes throughout the album, Hill shows us a peek inside a classroom where a teacher, portrayed by American poet and current mayor of Newark Ras Baraka asks children about the concept of love.

So…what’s an album that changed your life?

That’s the question my colleagues posed on air to NPR music critic Ann Powers. Powers had Kate Bush’s The Dreaming at the top of her list. Among her other favorites: 1999 by Prince, Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes, U2’s Warning Baby and, because she has great taste, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Find out what other albums made her list and about what some Angelenos consider life-changing albums here.

Help Us Cover Your Community

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.

  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? let us know

Comments are closed.