Regenerative Gardens for At-Risk & Foster Youth

Creator Kitchen Gardens for At-Risk and Foster Youth here in LA.

We are raising money for a pilot project to locally grow regeneratively farmed, super yields of nutrient-rich, organic vegetables in a cost- and space-effective way in the densely populated greater Los Angeles area, a location that does not naturally spring to mind as an optimal environment for farming. We want to change that idea and establish a model for other projects and cities.

Our nonprofit, For Land & People, is working in partnership with GCM (Guerilla Community Movement). We are seeking $50,000 in funding to establish and maintain two gardens in Los Angeles County designed to cultivate more than just food. We know that barriers are broken when people come together for a common cause. We also know that land, water, and air quality are restored when we practice carbon sequestration and regenerative farming. The goal for this project is to restore the Earth as well as the connections we have as humans – all starting here at home in LA.

Through our “Creator Kitchen” concept, we can offer young people opportunities and access to education and services they wouldn’t normally have: a training facility that offers qualified mentorship, high-quality food sources, wellness and nutrition information, life skills, community support, and job pathways in settings that allow them to evolve in their own way and pace, inspired by their authentic interests. A kitchen is a place where you bring ingredients together and make something nourishing. We intend to create conditions for growth and thriving in both food and people.

To accomplish our goals, we are partnering with Fresh Start Healthy Meals and Dough Girl Pizza in Sylmar, and the St. Joseph Center in Venice to support young people and their communities. Your contributions will help cover:

·       $10k for startup costs to establish & utilize garden space including nutrient-dense raised beds in Pacoima, CA (green space location TBD)

·       $10k for startup costs to establish & utilize existing garden space and add nutrient-dense raised beds at St. Joseph Center in Venice, CA

·       $30k first-year expenses for staffing, physical upkeep, a garden training facility and life enhancement programming at both gardens

This Creator Kitchen Gardens project is a collaborative project birthed in the nonprofit Guerilla Mask Movement  and working in collaboration with the nonprofit enterprise For Land & People and INlighten Community . Additional partnerships include: The Birdhouse , Ecosystem Restoration Camps , Alegría Fresh , St. Joseph Center, Olive Crest Foster Agency, Fresh Start Healthy Meals, and Dough Girl Pizza.

WHY

The pandemic worsened the already alarming rise in at-risk and foster youth experiencing homelessness, incarceration, addictions, and food insecurity (often simultaneously). At-risk communities across America are disproportionately affected by the lack of grocery stores that sell fresh, affordable foods. Los Angeles has 2.3 times fewer supermarkets per household in low-poverty areas compared to high-poverty areas. Predominantly White areas have 3.2 times more supermarkets than Black areas and 1.7 times more than Latino areas. Since the 1980s the cost of fruits and vegetables has increased by 24 percent, with spikes in food prices soaring post-pandemic. Meanwhile processed, fast food remains easily accessible and cheap and the cost of nonalcoholic beverages – often sweetened with high fructose corn syrup — has dropped by 27 percent. Hungry families are all but forced to choose inexpensive food that’s filling but not nutritious, resulting in a poor diet, malnutrition, and obesity.

Our Creator Kitchen projects respond to this growing need and allow us to introduce ourselves to the people and communities we intend to serve by developing relationships, supporting existing efforts, and becoming good neighbors. This project will also seed our plans to establish The Grange, a unique and multi-faceted, multi-acre farm in greater Los Angeles County. This visionary farm project will provide the platform for breaking the cycle of disconnection and destruction for both humans and earth. Our idea creates a comprehensive, land-based approach to trauma therapy, wellness, and education, with plans for stakeholder integration, panoptic solutions, and long-term commitment to structural and systemic change in food production, youth development, and community engagement.

HOW

Our Regenerative Gardens enterprise utilizes SoxxBoxxes, a revolutionary growing system from Alegría Farms that produces organic greens far fresher and more nutrient dense than vegetables that are grown hundreds of miles or more away, and delivered to local stores days, weeks or even months after harvest. SoxxBoxxes are elevated planters that can be used over cement or other man-made surfaces. Each SoxxBoxx contains individual planting bags or “socks,” filled with a regenerative organic soil blend. This controlled growing environment assures nutrient-dense produce, high yields and faster growth rates.

SoxxBoxxes use 95% less water, 50% less fertilizers and zero toxic pesticides. SoxxBoxxes are carbon negative, meaning they improve air quality by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This means we can help protect our environment while providing historically underrepresented communities a way to grow organic, highly nutritious foods right where they live.

By including the Creator Kitchen component, these gardens can become hubs of their communities. Gathering around food preparation is a custom of all cultures and through activities like cook-offs and farm-to-table dinners, the Creator Kitchen brings people together to build relationships and amplify support systems.

WHERE DOES YOUR DONATION GO

Your contribution will help fund the design, installation, staffing, and training of regenerative microfarms throughout Los Angeles County. Specifically, donations will be used to purchase and install SoxxBoxxes and provide hands-on training to at-risk and foster youth in whole food nutrition, urban farming techniques, and backyard cultivation of fresh produce. Each participant in the program will learn how a SoxxBoxx works and, under the guidance of a trained mentor, help plant, maintain, and harvest the microfarm, taking home the produce that they grow. We are also partnering with local foster agencies and nonprofit organizations that serve at-risk youth & families.

Our goal is to raise $50,000 to purchase, install, and maintain enough Soxxboxxes to feed 1000 people. This will include the funds needed to purchase regenerative soil, organic seedlings, and packing materials for the produce, as well as paying for training and maintenance staff in the first year.

No donation is too small -- every little bit helps and we appreciate every contribution.  Your support of this project will help nourish at-risk youth, provide mentorship opportunities and teach job skills. Joanna and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us in feeding and strengthening our communities!

WHO WE ARE
 

About Jennifer Kelly, Founder, For Land & People
My name is Jennifer Kelly. I grew up with a single mom, in section 8 housing, in an alcoholic family. I see my past as a gift that has cultivated many superpowers in me. I have spent most of my life in service to and advocacy for others. In my community and through my wellness center/yoga studio called INlighten Community in the San Fernando Valley, I have helped hundreds of kids, adults, families, students and clients overcome addiction, improve their mental and physical health, and nurture their emotional and spiritual lives. As a yoga/meditation teacher, wellness life coach, hypnotherapist and nutritional therapist, I have worked with individuals to improve their health through the power of whole food nutrition, physical movement, love, and community support. I have mentored at-risk youth and been a foster parent for the past 24 years. I met my daughter Joanna when I was 27 years old and my life has never been the same. I am so grateful to be venturing into this project with her!

The onset of the pandemic, and the year long physical closing of my yoga/wellness center, prompted me to focus on ways to better understand the needs of our diverse community, how to help at-risk communities become more food secure and to educate people on how to build strong immune systems. I have been a nutritional therapist for many years and began studying regenerative farming, meeting with members from the Kiss the Ground movement and the Need to Grow movement, who are in support of this micro farm project in Los Angeles. Erik Cutter, founder of Alegria Farms, had the answer I was looking for in these SoxxBoxx systems. I am beyond excited that my daughter, Joanna, wants to join me in leading this SoxxBoxx Urban Farm with a Conscience project!!!



About Joanna Cruz, Manager Trainee, SoxxBoxx Los Angeles
Hello you all my name is Joanna Cruz aka Gala C. I won’t bore you, with too much. I consider myself to be a loving, resilient, generous, gifted soul. I come from very humble beginnings and was granted many chances at life. A chance to be free from the darkness and the abuse I once endured. The child in me wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The very beginning of my existence craved the love that I was missing. So I found love in many different amazing human beings. My bonus mother Jennifer Kelly has been a part of my enlightening growth journey for twenty four years. Reconnecting with her was the energy I was missing. She sees me, knows me and understands my pure intentions. Which brings me to this, I thank you and I am grateful to you for introducing me to natural healing/medicine. My lifestyle choices have taken a turn in a positive way. I recently was introduced to farming educators that are making a significant difference in the world. I strongly believe the universe sends you messages and one of the messages that continuously circles around, is taking steps to live in my soul purpose and to educate those around me that may be less fortunate and or may not have access to growing their own food.

We all deserve a chance and it is a blessing to have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. I plan to educate the masses in hopes of the message being passed down to generations after me. Let’s cultivate for humanity and see the growth where we plant the seeds. Help me help to educate our children, our youth, and our adults. Thank you everyone for your generosity and taking your time to read this.

About Mar Diego, Founder, Dough Girl Pizza
Mar Diego is an ex-convict, chef, and philanthropist who has dedicated her life to creating inspiration, rewriting her story, and rehabilitating troubled youth and adults. She launched Dough Girl as a way to bring quality food to low-income areas. Today, the pizza joint has evolved into much more. Dough Girl is lending a hand to local youth dealing with issues like homelessness and addiction. Diego says it's a way to "pay it forward." In Broken Bread on KCET she shares her personal story with Roy Choi. In her youth, Diego sold drugs and, ultimately, was incarcerated, where she worked in the prison’s kitchen. After her release, Diego went to culinary school, all of which led to Dough Girl and ongoing service to her community in Pacoima, CA.

About Karen Van Nuys, Advisor, St. Joseph Center
Karen Van Nuys, PhD, is a board member for the St. Joseph Center in Venice, CA. She is the executive director of the Value of Life Sciences Innovation Project at the USC Schaeffer Center and a research assistant professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy. Her recent research focuses on the social value of novel therapies for heart failure and hepatitis C, the flow of funds in the pharmaceutical distribution chain, and the impact of commercial practices such as copay coupons and copay clawbacks on the utilization and cost of prescription drugs. Her work has been published in leading journals in economics, medicine, finance, and health policy.

About Henry Park, Business Advisor, For Land & People  
Henry is a technology entrepreneur shaking up the non-profit world by taking an approach of stacking problems and solutions to bring rapid yet long-term term results. He co-founded the nonprofit Guerilla Community Movement (GCM) in response to the global pandemic to bridge the corporate and entrepreneurial communities with non-profit leaders to reorganize our resources in ways that maximize our joint impact. His superpower is networking and connecting people with goals and motivations. 

Henry is Founder / CEO of 3GC Group an IT managed service provider, Co-Founder/ Executive Partner of Pandoblox a software development company and Chief Effectuator of GCM. He has a BS in Economics and minor in Psychology from UC Irvine and an Executive MBA from Tuck University. Rooted in the kundalini yogic framework of existence, he looks at personal, family, business, spiritual and philanthropic efforts as one integrated way of living.

MORE INFORMATION

What is regenerative soil?  

Regenerative soil is rebuilding degraded soil organic matter to make it more healthy — through minimizing the loss of topsoil, retaining more carbon than is depleted, boosting biodiversity, and maintaining proper water and nutrient cycling. 

 
More About SoxxBoxx 

Powerful Produce that can be Grown Anywhere 

How SoxxBoxx is Supporting Food Banks in OC 

The Future of Regenerative Farming and Technology

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Donations

  • jonny allen 
    • $100 
    • 4 mos
  • Nicholas Benedict 
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
  • Aaron Wolfe 
    • $200 
    • 5 mos
  • Alex Shohet 
    • $500 
    • 7 mos
  • Elora Lyda 
    • $100 
    • 7 mos

Organizer and beneficiary

Jennifer Lakhmi Chand 
Organizer
Burbank, CA
Eric Speicher 
Beneficiary