On Saturday, I headed over to an event where community gardeners gathered to learn more about gardening and how they become a useful tool in their neighborhoods. Los Angeles Community Garden Council hosted the event at Farmlab in Downtown.
A reoccurring topic at the event was the lack of access to fresh produce for those in low-income neighborhoods. Ironically, fast food restaurants have begun to accept EBT cards while some Farmers Markets are still struggling to accept the cards as a form of payment. The Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card is the identification card for the Food Stamp Program.
The government was helping farmers markets to acquire the machines needed to use EBT cards but with the budget crisis they are no longer doing so. Out of 120 farmers markets only one-fourth accepts EBT cards.
The role of the community gardens is then to provide fruits and vegetables for those who can’t afford to buy them. When the community gardens associated with the Los Angeles Community Garden Council have a bountiful harvest they are encouraged to donate the produce to local food banks or their neighbors.
Because of their work, a representative from the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa awarded them with a certificate of excellence. Al Renner, the director of LACGC received the honor.
Also in attendance was councilmember Ed Reyes, from district 1, who has been an advocate for community gardens in Los Angeles County.