Why a farm?

Updated: Nov 16, 2021


 

I'm Sasha Kanno and I'm a farmer and founder of Farm Lot 59. In 2008 I hit a point in my life where I didn't want to drive to LA for work anymore. Working in the film industry had taught me a lot about construction, art, & design. Along with my floral production background, I figured It would be easy enough to start a farm. Well, the farming part I can learn on YouTube...right?!





I wish that I could say that doing good and serving the community was always the goal but it wasn't. Since I was going to be a mom I always had an outdoor education element to the farm but I never thought I would be at the point where we donate 100% of produce to the unhoused neighbors in our community. I had no idea what food insecurity was or the deep issues with land access in urban communities. I had a backyard at my house and I grew tons of produce fairly easily. I had started a community garden and taught people how to grow food. I grew up with fruit trees and a veggie garden. I didn't know that people didn't know where food came from.



My main motivation was I wanted to have my son and be around. I couldn't make movies and bad TV and be the mom I wanted to be. I wanted rural without leaving the city. I wanted a farm close to my house where I could grow fruit, flowers, veggies, and herbs to sell and make a decent living while supporting a local agriculture movement in LB. People weren't farming yet in Long Beach. Nobody heard of Farm to Table eating. Grass-fed and free-range were not common vocabulary words. It's not that long ago but LB was last on the program of supporting local. It's still a problem. Greenwashing is real even on the hyper-local level. I still wouldn't consider LB an urban farm-friendly city.


Back then, to work in agriculture meant working for the city at the Office of Sustainability driving around town delivering mulch and planting street trees. Or you could work at the Growing Experience if they would hire you but... since they were funded by LA County and part of housing development it was bureaucratic and jammed up in some drama. Perhaps you could be a landscape designer for residents' backyard gardens and edible landscapes. That was about it. After checking my options to connect my family with the land, I realized if I wanted that I had to build it. I had to build Farm Lot 59 from the grime up.


When I would pitch my idea of building Farm Lot 59 people didn't fully understand. But they were open to it. Nobody ever said don't do it. I thought I was going to grow food, have kids over for field trips, show people how to grow their own, and have this little project that would make enough money to sustain itself and my little family. I quickly faced reality...it's a lot harder than you would think to start a project like this.


I'm starting this blog to tell you all about it. The rough start, losing friends, gaining a community, going broke, losing a lease, dealing with theft and vandalism, restaurant sales, greenwashing, flower farming, covid, all of it. It's been quite a journey.

 









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