How an Urban Farm is Feeding L.A. County’s Homeless
The farm will handily top its 2016 goal to send 6,000 pounds of food into the kitchen—one summer day alone, the harvest included 100 pounds of heirloom tomatoes.
By Mary MacVea
Los Angeles Magazine
Nov 30, 2016
Eight miles from downtown, amid the warehouses and factories and railroad tracks of Bell, Corinne McAndrews plots out two rows of Purple Queen garlic. “I want to be part of a new way of thinking about urban agriculture,” she says of GrowGood, the farm she manages here. This isn’t a communal plot; it isn’t really a commercial one, either. GrowGood harvests food for people who are in no position to sort through the produce at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Spread over one-and-a-half acres of U.S. Army land that a few years ago, she says, was “void of biological life,” its dozens of varieties of vegetables and herbs and 50 fruit trees serve as the engine of GrowGood’s mission: sending its harvest to the large homeless shelter across the parking lot.
The farm was founded by Andrew Hunt, a technology entrepreneur, and Brad Pregerson, a city prosecutor. Pregerson’s grandfather, U.S. Circuit Court judge Harry Pregerson, helped open the shelter 28 years earlier in a converted U.S. Army hangar. Time as a volunteer in the kitchen inspired the younger Pregerson to find a way to get more fresh produce to the shelter. What’s ripe is picked, weighed, rinsed, and wheeled in a green wagon the 150 steps to the kitchen of the Salvation Army Bell Shelter, temporary home for up to 350 people, many of them military veterans. In early fall the wagon held rainbow chard, melons, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, and five kinds of squash.