Local Farmer Turns a City Dump into a Charming Urban Farm

Long littered with car bumpers, scrap metal and trash, a land plot in Long Beach, California has been transformed into an enchanting petite urban farm. There, everything is organically grown and tended to the old fashioned way— by hand, without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

Farmer and founder Sasha Kanno has built a successful enterprise with the help of grants, donations and a team of community volunteers. Long Beach Local, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is an agriculture-based operation focused on training young farmers and educating residents about urban farming. Kanno is a visionary with a background in floral design and community gardening, who saw the potential for urban agriculture in Long Beach.

Sale of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey from the roadside stand helps keep the business sustainable. Not only do the bees produce profitable honey, they are important for pollination of the crops as well.

In addition to fresh picked vegetables and lettuces, esoteric items such as sunchokes and fennel pollen are sold to local restaurants, Michael’s on Naples (one of my absolute favorites) being one of the biggest customers. Micro-greens, which are grown in a greenhouse entirely built from salvaged materials, are a popular garnish used by many chefs.

The one-acre farm has its own micro-climate, noticeably hotter than the surrounding neighborhood. Kanno’s philosophy is not to fight nature, if there is a plant that doesn’t grow well there, she will move on to another. Along with her team of volunteers, she maintains raised beds growing chives, leeks and various herbs, and rows and rows of lettuces, squash, melons, eggplant, tomatoes, asparagus and more.

Another area of the farm is dedicated to an orchard of various fruit trees including lesser-known fruits such as cherimoya. The farming is labor intensive, all of the produce is grown from seed. Most of the seeds are heirloom variety, many over 100 years old. Heirloom seeds are cultivars whose unique qualities have been maintained by gardeners over many decades.

Hens are pastured, they eat organic grains and forage for bugs. Not only does Farmstand 59 profit from the sale of just-laid eggs, these hens help with pest control and soil fertility. Kanno explains that healthy soil is the key to healthy plants. During the day chickens roam a large fenced area of the farm, at night they sleep in a coop, protected from predators and the elements.

“We have very happy and healthy hens and a beautiful little farm,” Kanno said. “We love showing guests around the farm to see our growing practices and operations up close.”

Farmstand 59 opened on June 14 and it is open every 2nd Saturday after that from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each “Second Saturday Market Place” features farm fresh fare, including organic fruits, vegetables, flowers, and eggs. Other merchandise is also available, including heritage walnut oil, handmade produce bags, heirloom seeds and more.

For a $5 donation (though no one is turned away), visitors can tour the farm with Kanno while she shares her passion for biodynamic farming and how the dream became a reality over the past three years.

The LadyFarmer, a local mobile café, serves hot breakfast made from farm fresh produce and eggs, and Pop Up Coffee provides coffee and tea. Could there be a more delightful way to shop for food on a Saturday morning and simultaneously support local agriculture?

Not only is Kanno true to her mission to develop farmland in an urban setting and offer healthy food choices, she has also created a place for locals to learn about gardening and volunteering.

Long Beach Local Farm Lot 59 offers a delicious rural experience for the urban family.

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