The Small Farm Solution: Building a Hyper Local Food System

Localizing the food system provides opportunities for individuals to understand and directly invest in the way they consume. In Highland Park, the relationship between the Milagro Allegro Community Garden, local homesteader Warren Ontiveros, and Good Girl Dinette is an example of a hyper-local food ecology between the grower, retailer and consumer. Diep Tran, owner of Good Girl Dinette, discusses how custom Vietnamese herbs are grown at Milagro Allegro by Ontiveros, specifically for her restaurant. While small-scale farmers like Ontiveros have much more flexibility and room for innovation, large agribusinesses are often ill-equipped to produce such products.

Small-scale farm and food enterprises have thrived by establishing direct relationships with retailers and consumers through farmers markets. L.A.'s first Farmers Market began in 1934 with just 18 farmers who sold from the backs of their trucks. Today, there are almost 100 Certified Farmers Markets around the county, bringing fresh local produce to the urban core, directly from local farmers. Weiser Family Farms, for example, has been selling at local farmers markets for over 30 years, allowing them to stay afloat financially and nurture the consumer-retailer relationship that was lost with the decline of mom-and-pop shops.

Weiser Family Farms Potatoes Despite these opportunities, significant barriers in infrastructure limit the growth of local and regional agriculture. The Farm Bill, re-authorized by the Federal Government every five years, offers a critical opportunity to change federal farm and food policy. In November 2011, congress members introduced the Local Farm and Jobs Act, intended for inclusion in this year's Farm Bill, that would invest in local food markets, thus securing jobs for small farmers and improving access to underserved communities. This potential change at a federal level is a great example of a trickle-down effect that would also hopefully cause changes in local communities.

Click the thumbnail images above for interviews with Diep Tran, owner & chef at Good Girl Dinette; Warren Ontiveros, local homesteader in Highland Park; Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms; and Phil Mcgrath of McGrath Family Farms.

Social Justice for Food
Diep Tran, chef and restaurateur, explains the slow food movement in Highland Park and her business relationship with local farmers.
A Cycle
Warren Ontiveros, a local homestead in Highland Park, describes his role in a local food commerce cycle and defines the values built from growing food.
Rewarding Niche Farming
Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms relies on farmers markets to survive as a business and produce innovative products.
Organic Health Insurance
Phil McGrath of McGrath Family Farms recounts his family's history in farming and the conscious shift toward organic produce.

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Change at the Community Level

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