LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Unlocking Potential for People, Plants, Place

ALMA Backyard Farms restores and upholds Los Angeles as a city that unlocks potential for people, plants and place. ALMA's success is proven through urban farming operations and restorative job training programs wherein: (1) People formerly incarcerated have opportunities to give back. (2) Plants grow and feed people facing food insecurity. (3) Once neglected urban spaces are transformed into productive organic farms and places for nourishment. These are brought together at ALMA's Farm Stand to model environmental justice and food security.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Opportunities for People Who Have Been Incarcerated

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

East LA

South LA

South Bay

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Nourishing the whole person is crucial as LA faces a shortage of beauty, marred by upticks in violence, homelessness, rampant drug use, inequity. ALMA understands that challenges around food security are exacerbated pre-, para-, post-pandemic, especially in parts of LA historically disenfranchised and disproportionately home to more parolees, presenting a complex, inter-related social/environmental justice issue, long proven in local, regional and national discourse, increasingly visible on our streets. ALMA sees stakeholders stuck talking about/around LA's struggles, putting more time and resources into defining issues, rather than actualizing solutions. ALMA's urban farms and healthy re-entry programs on a small, limited scale exist to realize and model food security, to create a nourished community now and long-term. Listening to who they serve, ALMA builds safe, healing green spaces, grows and shares affordable food, promotes healthy lifestyles and a sense of belonging.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

ALMA simultaneously addresses food insecurity and recidivism by providing healthy pathways for re-entry through urban agriculture initiatives and operating the Farm Stand as a stand for dignity and restoration - no life or land is wasted. The Farm Stand is the hub for ALMA's 3 core programs, all with plans to expand in 2024 and beyond: 1) Farm Stand Social Enterprise: Compton Farm Stand serves 400+ families bi-weekly, offers high-quality, organic produce at a pay-what-you-can model; Creates new jobs for 15+ formerly incarcerated individuals per year. 2) Peas-In-A-Pod Youth Farm Education: Onsite farm/food education for youth and families; Affordable workshops held weekly at farm-adjacent grade schools, monthly at the Farm Stand and Summer Farm Camp. Last year 500+ children participated. 3) Job Training for formerly incarcerated individuals: Urban agriculture job training and healthy re-entry for persons formerly incarcerated. 25 formerly incarcerated individuals received hands-on technical education, restoration and healing in 2022. During the Pandemic, ALMA rose to the challenge of rising food scarcity and as the need continues, ALMA operates as the People's Farm with focus on whole-person well being and care given equally to people, plants and place. Using best practices in urban agriculture and equitable employment, ALMA offers opportunities for folks re-entering to give back through restorative action and kinship - vital aspects of relational farming.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Guided by the principles of reciprocity, ALMA listens to the evolving needs of the communities they serve in and around LA to manifest real transformation. One urban farm, one plant, one person at a time, ALMA creates palpable changes in LA intended to ripen for this season's harvest while enriching the ground for seasons to come. In Compton, folks expressed the need for safe, green spaces to gather. In response, ALMA hosts alternating Sunday Farm Stands with affordable fresh food, all-ages recreational activities, youth and family education, urban agriculture job training and farm/food related small business incubation. With continued and additional support, ALMA will expand by: Increasing amount of food grown and distributed; Host more seed to table and organic plant nursery services and events; Extend education programs; Increase capacity for re-entry training and employment. ALMA encourages regenerative agriculture as a community resource to nurture civic participation and pride.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Measuring success at ALMA is done internally through individual and team feedback/dialogue and externally through surveys and onsite conversations. Quantitative data e.g. lbs of produce grown and distributed, and qualitative data indicating effective leadership, a strong work ethic, high quality standards of care and beauty and a shared sense of achievement, are also tracked. A 2023 research study on ALMA by Pepperdine University graduate students in collaboration with A-Mark Foundation states: "[ALMA's] Success was evident locally, systemically and through individual testimonials ... " The research shows this and ALMA has confidence that their unique model has opportunities to scale. Furthermore, the study says: "ALMA's holistic approach suggests an effective model of success for other programs [...] addressing environmental stewardship through the lens of equity and sustainability addresses both the urgent and long-term needs of historically oppressed communities and individuals [...]"

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 22,500

Indirect Impact: 112,500