Last week, Path to Positive: Los Angeles launched an ambitious plan to “leverage regional action for global impact on climate solutions.” By focusing resources and efforts on faith, health, business, higher education, and local governments, the program empowers communities with the tools to act on climate change.
An example of how Path to Positive seeks to strengthen ties between city officials, community leaders, and citizens—which also benefit the environment—can be found among the rows of garden plots topping the roof of DTLA’s prestigious Jonathan Club.
The Jonathan Club is joined by a growing number of community-based efforts to involve city dwellers in urban farming. The connection between agriculture and climate solutions is well established, however, equally important are the municipal benefits. While green spaces may be attractive to many municipalities, local governments are often reluctant to devote scarce resources to their development—until now.
An increasing number of organizations are cropping up to reduce the financial, technical, and logistical barriers to creating community gardens. These groups promote the environmental and community benefits of urban farming—yet the financial benefits are impressive incentives as well. Growing beds at the Jonathan Club, which cost roughly $40,000 to construct, are expected to yield up to $150,000 in produce per year, making financial benefits extremely attractive to communities.
The combination of community, environmental and even financial benefits make investing in urban gardens an easy choice for city leaders. Likewise, they are emblematic of the solutions that Path to Positive envisions for Los Angeles, and communities across the country.
At the Jonathan Club downtown, not everyone took it well when an infrequently used paddle tennis court on a fifth-floor roof was sacrificed to gem lettuce, swiss chard and microgreens.
Executive chef Jason McClain, of course, was thrilled. His father, a retired landscape architect, flew in from Alabama to build the garden, installing neat rows of galvanized horse troughs in which vegetables and herbs now grow.
Club members walking on the artificial turf track nearby pass tubs filled with citrus and fruit trees. The dinner menu lists "our home-grown items": broccolini, baby carrots, yuzu, blueberries, figs, snap peas and heirloom tomatoes.
"I mean, you cut a tomato and it's like a real tomato. The juice runs down your arm. It's never been refrigerated," McClain, dressed in crisp fresh chef's whites, said Tuesday morning to a busload of visitors on a daylong tour of urban agriculture and local food systems.
"It's just magical. You're in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. It's really great at 5 o'clock, when the traffic's going and you hear the obscenities, and I'm up here snipping arugula."
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