youth development

A new home (and farm) for transition age foster youth!

For years, RootDown's Executive Director has been telling our staff,
"One day, we're going to figure out how to support foster youth and kids from the juvenile justice system." Last month, this became a reality. RootDown has partnered with foster organizations, mental health practitioners, and the owners of the house in front of our micro-farm/FarmPOD to offer dedicated foster housing & supportive services to youth aging out of other foster programs. Tenants in this home will have free veggies, optional therapy, and a great community of civic, business, non-profit, community, and educational leaders in South LA who want to support them to transition to independent living. Keep your eyes peeled for more pics from our weekly house meetings. And contact us if you know youth who would benefit from this program.
We have only just begun! 



Making veggie supply and demand meet in South LA.

We slowed down our culinary/nutrition programs the last 18 months to focus on food production and what a success!  From 2012 to 2014, we saw a 434% increase in food production from 150 lbs to 801 lbs, annually.  Now, we're working to streamline our distribution processes and start building more demand for our veggies in South LA.  With our "Buck a Bunch" winter greens sales, kids' cooking classes at the LAPD Alba Rec center, adult cooking classes at Maya Angelou High in partnership with LATCH, and our diabetes program planning with patients at the St. John's Wellness Center, we're figuring out where supply and demand for veggies meet in South LA!

A buck a bunch - don't let the systems get you down!

From RDLA's Executive Director - We've gotten so good at growing veggies the past 2 years, sometimes we forget we are experts at pushing the veggies too.  I went into our Jefferson garden yesterday and was astounded - we had TONS of winter greens growing, enough to raise hundreds of dollars IF we were selling at the Hollywood or Santa Monica farmers markets.  * Our kids get discouraged sometimes. * They've worked hard to dismantle the myriad barriers that get in the way of getting healthier food to their peers, parents and neighbors - lack of land, dead soil, pests, thefts, summer school shut downs leading to garden lock-outs, prohibitive policies for selling healthy food on school campuses, resistant potential partner organizations...the list goes on.  Yesterday they stood and looked at all those winter greens with furrowed brows.  How will we ever sell these for a profit? I reminded them what we are here to do - first and foremost - to GET PEOPLE TO WANNA EAT THEIR VEGGIES. I reminded them, we don't have to achieve everything at once.  Each time someone comes into one of our gardens and tastes a new veggie and likes it, or takes herbs home and comes back, raving and asking for more (see Jonathan, our LAUSD maintenance and ops. guy, above) we collect another win.  

This week, our youth staff are going to host a "buck a bunch" winter greens giveaway outside of Jefferson High and the Student Empowerment Academy. For all who can give a buck, we'll take that as a donation.  For those who can't, we'll give them a giant bunch of greens anyway. Our customers will also get a little "recipe" card reminding them how easy it is to just chop an onion and some garlic, heat those in little oil, then toss in the chopped winter greens until they wilt, and throw this all over a fried egg or pile it on toast for a TASTY healthy meal.

Slowly but surely, we work towards balancing supply and demand to help create more just and healthy Youth-driven Neighborhood Food Systems in South Los Angeles.  RootDown LA - You're Gonna Wanna Eat Your Veggies!