Project Food LA

When the City of Los Angeles passed a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in 2008, Project Food LA (PFLA) was formed to bring diverse, creative voices to issues of food and justice in Los Angeles. Since its founding, PFLA has staged a series of provocative events in diverse locations in the city. Hungry Urbanism In this panel discussion series taking place over 4 months, PFLA engaged diverse thinkers to help look at the food system as an urban planning/design issue. The series of four discussions were staged at locations including Habeas Lounge and Southern California Institute of Architecture, the MAK Center in West Hollywood, and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee in Watts. The discussions tackled a range of topics including the role of local urban planning in the context of a global food system, a survey of urban food practices, the cultural conditions of health in South LA, and proposals for an urban farm in Watts. Fragrant Flavor Freeze Six local chefs were asked to create ice cream featuring a local, seasonal herb for a tasting event on Father’s Day. Visitors were invited to sample, smell, touch, taste the herb and the ice cream on which it was based. The goal of the event was to celebrate flavor and local, seasonal ingredients. Participants were challenged to reconnect multiple senses to the experience of taste. Sage Table For an exhibition of creative family practices with Broodwork at Otis College of Art & Design, PFLA created the “Sage Table.” This table was an apothecary of sorts, cataloguing 17 types of local sage in a unique table. The tabletop contained the sage varieties as well as a series of seeds for collection and home planting. Visitors were invited to sow the seeds with pots and organic soil that were provided. The table also housed a variety of reference materials and didactic information about the sage so common in California. Micheltorena Tree Planting With a grant from Closed on Mondays, PFLA was able to provide materials and labor for a tree planting at Micheltorena School in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. As part of the school’s community work day and the United States Green Building Council’s day of service, PFLA engaged a school mission to transform asphalt to permeable surface and fruit trees. A Guava Tree was planted in the playground, and has grown since we implemented the project. Mudtown Farms PFLA has been engaged with Mudtown Farm, an initiative of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. We have been involved with a series of events for this project. With a successful Prop 84 grant of nearly $5 million, PFLA has staged tours, cross promoted and advocated for the realization of this project. In addition to these past events, the Potluck Truck is something we have discussed for quite a while. Currently, events are being planned around the conflict between indigenous Mexican farmers and the Monsanto Corporation as big agriculture attempts to take over the Mexican production of corn.

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1 Submitted Idea

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    Potluck Truck

    Loosely based on the ubiquity of food trucks in the landscape of Los Angeles, the Potluck Truck is a mobile unit that encourages community engagement through informal cultural activities and collective meals. Moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, the Potluck Truck is a temporary community center that offers discussion groups, film screenings, and workshops all related to food and food production in Los Angeles, as well as related topics that address ideas of growth and sustenance. By not limiting itself to one location, the truck-space will interact with multiple publics and connect people in different cultural and geographic locations in the city. Our indicator is social connectedness, and the Potluck Truck brings people together. The name reflects the idea that everyone brings something to the table, metaphorically or practically, whether that be a story, seeds, a soup, or their wonderful selves. When people come together, especially when there is food involved, there is encouragement to relax, and conversations happen. Project Food LA is excited to retrofit a food truck and transform the interior space into a seed and book library, a space for people to leave poems, recipes and photos as well; the truck becomes a reflection and archive of the diversity of Los Angeles. We would joyously partner with local farmers and create programming around seasonal produce. Farmers will be invited to present about their farming practices, water conservation methods, and showcase their produce. The truck will include a film screen and pull out benches and poofs - the ability to turn an empty lot into a makeshift outdoor theatre. Food connects people; we all have to eat and the Potluck Truck uses this simple fact as a platform to challenge the normalization of areas of the city being food deserts, and the potentially isolating nature of domestic space. It harkens back to the idea of the commons, a space where everyone has a right to be, and inscribes food democracy into that shared privilege to congregate, and act, as empowered citizenry.