Community Services Unlimited Can Help You Get a Jump On Your New Year’s Resolution to Garden and Eat Healthy

CSU's produce stand outside their urban farm in Exposition Park. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

CSU’s produce stand outside their urban farm in Exposition Park. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Every time an email from Community Services Unlimited (CSU) lands in my inbox, I am always inspired by how much a handful of people can accomplish when they are dedicated to the cause.

Whether it is stocking corner markets with produce, hosting food justice conferences, or building gardens, running classes, and celebrating the environment at local schools, or putting together a new program with Hunger Action LA to reach those who are dependent on government assistance, they have rolled up their sleeves and gotten down to work.

Instead of complaining about the lack of grocery stores (although they do that, too), for example, they set up several produce stands in under-served areas of the city.

Depending on the day of the week, you can find them peddling in-season fruits and vegetables sourced from local farmers and their “Beyond Organic” products at Exposition Park, St. John’s Clinic, the Magnolia Place Family Center, LAC USC Medical Center, or, my personal favorite, the parking lot of a liquor store on Western adjacent to the Ralph’s that recently vacated the neighborhood.

At the Expo stand or the newly created Grand and 3rd St. site downtown, you can stop by to pick up your weekly pre-ordered produce bag. The subscribers’ bags, filled with seasonal fruits, veggies, and herbs sourced from local farmers and CSU’s own urban farm, are a really good deal, according to USC business students. (see schedules/locations here)

Comparing the local “Beyond Organic” carrots, ginger, apples, cabbage, grapes, red onion, and asparagus found in the $10/$12 CSU bag with that of the same, but non-organic/corporate-farmed products at local Superior, Ralph’s and Fresh & Easy markets, the students found that the chain grocers were generally more expensive. While a comparable bag at Superior came in under $10 at $9.67, a similar bag at Ralph’s cost $10.36, while one at Fresh & Easy cost $14.14. And none of the chains do what CSU does, which is turn around and use the revenue to hire local youth to work on the urban farm and learn how to run a small market.

This weekend, they will be holding the last Garden Gateway workshop of the year, where they will teach participants basic organic techniques, prepare a healthy dish using some of the produce featured in the workshop, and send you home with gardening supplies and produce to get you started.

The class is free and runs from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday, December 14th at the CSU Urban Farm, located at 3980 S. Bill Robertson Lane. For more information, please RSVP or contact: Heather@csuinc.org.