Farmlab, conceived by artist Lauren Bon, is an ambitious environmentalist laboratory and research space with educational public programming Salons every Friday. The work/exhibition space and offices are adjacent to the previous Not-A-Cornfield project in downtown L.A. that gave Farmlab its beginnings.

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SUSTAINABLE LA, a selection of short films about Angelinos engaged in the green revoluton.

Presented by the Echo Park Film Center
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For upcoming events, please visit the Farmlab website.

Written by Bill Kelley Jr.

Farmlab is born out of collaboration amongst several groups and its genesis should be situated within the very public battle for the preservation of the South Central Farm and the Not-A-Cornfield art project that eventually become Farmlab. In the middle is the artist Lauren Bon whose dual role as a trustee of the Annenberg Foundation that funds Farmlab and its conceptual leader places her in an interesting, if not sometimes contradictory, position. The preceding yearlong Not-A-Cornfield project was a collaborative project that converted 32 acres of a former railroad yard, known locally as the Cornfield, into an agricultural and cultural site where local activist groups and organizers came together to plant a field of corn near downtown L.A.. The Annenbergs, and Bon in particular, were key players, although unsuccessful in the end, in trying to save the community organized South Central Farm from commercial development.

Farmlab grew out of these two experiences and has been a year-long attempt to catalyze the different organizations and specialists in the field of environmental sustainability, urban planning, and community activism. On Fridays the public is invited to have lunch and listen to invited speakers at the Public Salons held at the Farmlab space adjacent to the former Cornfield site. A performance area behind the offices under the Spring Street overpass called Under Spring hosts a variety of events for different community groups. In the Farmlab building space art exhibitions are shown, research is sponsored, and discussions are held. The research space is consistently overgrown with experimental projects, from gardens planted in converted abandoned cars, to mycoremediation research on the detoxifying power of mushrooms.

And given all the activity, the project is about to transform yet again. Farmlab is about to become something else. Perhaps under the self-imposed pressure of having to decide whether it is an arts organization, a public policy organization, or both. It's somewhat understandable, given the complexity of the issues here.

Some of their larger projects include saving trees from the South Central Farm and temporarily housing them at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens. Agbins on Skid Row was an effort to bring communal garden to the homeless community in Los Angeles via mobile garden bins. Apart from these and other efforts, what makes Farmlab unique is its ability to bring variously specialized and concerned community together in ways that most art institutions rarely do. In this sense, what Farmlab has been trying to achieve is a community effort. Despite its generous funding, it was made possible because there were a need for a catalyzing effort amongst different groups and individuals. Its impact also lies in recognizing that fact.