Wednesday, 09 November 2011 18:03

Homeboy Industries Wins LA Ford Community Green Grant

At every Green Festival, attendees vote for a local organization to receive a $5,000 Ford Community Green Grant. The winner of the Los Angeles Green Festival was Homeboy Industries.

homeboy-industries-300Homegirl Café, a division of Homeboy Industries, is a social enterprise restaurant that provides a comprehensive training program and employment for high-risk and formerly gang-involved young women. Homegirl Café and Catering has implemented urban farms as part of their restaurant service and culinary arts training program, aimed at bringing fresh, organic produce direct from our urban farms to our café and bakery.

Homeboy is the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the world. The Homegirl Café training program cycles trainees through three stations, one of which is garden and maintenance.

In this program, young women from gang-impacted neighborhoods, who have often never seen “where real food comes from,” learn to plant, harvest, and serve organic produce in the café and at farmers markets throughout Los Angeles. The "homegirls" now grow in four community gardens around downtown and East Los Angeles, and serve their fresh finds in the  Homegirl Café and in three farmers markets.

The Homegirl Café offers community-wide, successful family gardening and cooking workshops that many of their employees attend with their children, learning the basics of growing vegetables and preparing healthy meals. The grant award will be used to make urban farm family education an ongoing part of their training program curriculum, with agriculture workshops, healthy cooking classes and resources to assist community members with starting their own home gardens.

The Ford Green Grant Finalists

Bici Libre

Bici Libre bike repairBici Libre, a project of the non-profit organization Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, provides used bicycles and bike repair education through a community of volunteer teachers. Hundreds of people have received bikes or learned how to repair their own for free or very low cost through the program.

In sunny and flat Los Angeles, bike commuting is a green transportation mode accessible year round, but something as simple as a flat tire can keep people off the road. Bici Libre gives bike riders knowledge they need to do these fixes themselves.

Last year, they received a grant from the County Department of Public Health to start the Bike Wrangler program, which collects abandoned bikes from around the county, repairs them, and distributes them to underserved communities.


Food Forward

Food Forward fruit pickingFood Forward, founded in 2009, is  a grassroots volunteer effort to alleviate hunger by fostering  community interaction at a local level. Founder and Executive Director Rick Nahmias realized that the abundance of wasted fruit he saw in his own neighborhood could become a nutritious and sustainable source of food for the hungry. With only two volunteers and a single backyard, over 800 pounds of fruit was produced from the first “pick”.

In the first three months an astounding 10,000 pounds of produce was harvested, and a total of 100,000 pounds by the end of the first year. Since that very first pick in 2009, Food Forward has delivered over 570,000 pounds - or two and a half million servings - of fresh and healthy produce to community food pantries throughout Los Angeles and neighboring counties.



Farmworks - Urban Agriculture After-school Enrichment Program

Farmworks FarmersFarmworks Los Angeles is a new non-profit providing technical training and workplace preparation to at-risk youth through engagement in agricultural activity. Their produce is distributed to local restaurants through a partnership program, whose proceeds help defray operating expenses.

The program targets young adults, generally from lower income neighborhoods, who may not have completed high school or may lack the experience and skills to be competitive in the job market. These neighborhoods tend to be underserved in terms of access to open green spaces and availability of fresh, healthy food.

Farmworks offers opportunities to engage directly with all phases of food production and distribution, and general gardening basics including soil fertility, composting, and seedling propagation. Participants learn about how a local food system can supply fresh produce within a city environment, gain greater appreciation for ecological sustainability, and acquire basic business skills.


The 5 Gyres Institute

5 Gyres Seal Surrounded by PlasticThe 5 Gyres Institute, co-founded by Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, began in 2009 to research and communicate about plastic marine pollution in our oceans and create a global baseline of data on plastic pollution.  They address plastic marine pollution, global distribution of marine plastics, the potential for microplastics to transport organic pollutants into the marine foodweb, and the ultimate fate of micro-plastics.

5 Gyres has sailed over 25,000 miles across the 5 oceanic gyres, gathering 400+ surface samples to study the distribution and ecological impacts of plastic pollution. In April of 2011, 5 Gyres completed its 8th research expedition, concluding the world’s first global study on plastic pollution in all 5 subtropical gyres. These expeditions included the first documented research on plastic in the three southern hemisphere gyres – the South Atlantic, South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, demonstrating that plastic marine pollution is an international issue.

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