Sasha Kanno, Farm Lot 59

Farm Lot 59′s Sasha Kanno Shares Urban Agriculture with Students & Local Chefs

Sasha Kanno, Farm Lot 59

On the grounds of what was an illegal dump, Sasha Kanno has transformed an abandoned parcel with an agricultural pedigree into an impressive nonprofit, fulfilling her vision of teaching food and farming to the residents of Long Beach while supplying local chefs with truly farm to table ingredients.

With some elbow grease and support from the City of Long Beach, Kanno cleaned up the dumping grounds, replacing soil with clean fill dirt before planting the first seeds in spring of 2012.

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For Kanno, the farm is a means to share her passion for teaching students the value of food production, while eliminating “food miles,” taking a holistic approach to growing the best crops for the local climate.

Farm Lot 59 is a 501 (c) (3) and was founded in 2010 by Kanno with the help of a founding board and local residents. Located in the heart of Long Beach, the farm has touched the lives of over 3,000 people who have either visited or attended an educational program through local groups and schools.

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Steps from the lot, Farmstand 59 sells produce from the farm, along with organic fruits and vegetables,which helps to fund the operation, along with grants. In 2016, Farm Lot 59 earned its Certified Naturally Grown designation, following rigorous inspections. The farm doesn’t use synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms.

As a model of small-scale sustainable agriculture, the farm utilizes a high-tunnel extension to grow some of the crops. Kanno believes the issue of food insecurity could be helped with the transformation of vacant properties into sustainable urban farm scapes, restoring soil back to its natural state and protecting the diversity of the ecosystem.

Kanno is a passionate visionary, applying her background in floral design, production, and event work to promote her mission. Earlier takes included starting a community garden where locals could eat what they grew, as well as a CSA.  However, she says she was “more production-driven” and saw an opportunity.

“I scouted properties for a farm and it’s worked out well. I studied farming, read books, watched videos, attended conferences. I took what I could and tried to bring to a small scale,” she says. “I never intended to be in food policy but food rights come with urban agriculture.”

These days, Kanno is focused on creating the next generation of farm educators, training teachers in garden education to extend her reach. “Every school can have a garden with grants. One problem is that parent volunteers are invested while their children attend the school. We need ongoing programs for success and to have the resources to help. We aren’t hitting the demographic in need,” she says.

When Sasha first started her enterprise, she says she’d grow flowers to bring to the local farmer’s market but since her flowers lasted, she wasn’t getting repeat customers each week. She says locally grown flowers didn’t necessarily appeal to people who were unaware of the hazards of pesticides close to food.

Local chefs including chef David Coleman of Michael’s of Long Beach and Chianina, and Arthur Gonzalez of Roe Seafood and Panxa Cocina encouraged Kanno to grow microgreens, salad greens, and herbs to use in their restaurants.

Mint

Gonzalez has inspired Kanno to grow Huacatay, a black mint grown in Peru. “When Sasha asked if she could grow anything specific for me, I asked her to grow a test batch,” says Gonzalez. “I could only find Huacatay in a paste.” Sasha says she found seeds on Etsy from a woman in Georgia. She saved the seeds in a glass jug, which brought what she says was an “insane amount of seeds,” which she planted, ending up with a full bed.

Today, Huacatay from Farm Lot 59 makes a starring presence in the menus at Art’s two restaurants. He uses the herb fresh and dried in dishes ranging from ceviche to seafood marinade and stock.

The farm also specializes in a signature “stellar” salad mix of mustard and kale in the winter, butter lettuce and romaine in the summer months, as well as special items like serrano chilis, fava beans, and husked cherries, which resemble tomatillos.

Kanno is a powerhouse, not only enlightening the community about sustainable urban farming but also supplying local chefs with fresh from the field ingredients.

 

 

Farm Lot is a proud advocate for local food policy and was a key instrument in the adoption of AB 551 and for modernizing our city’s outdated agriculture ordinance. We work closely with Long Beach Fresh on a continuing basis and the Good Food Purchasing Policy. We’ve worked together with many diverse organizations, representatives of local and regional governments, public agencies, other farmers, ranchers and food businesses. Our collaborative work is beginning to change local food access in Long Beach.

Now an eight-year-old farm with a committed board and strong support from City leadership.  We are building on that foundation to implement our vision, elevating our educational program to extend the reach of our edible education through teacher training and increased focus on advanced farmer training and the holistic approach to farming and efficiency. We value farming as a career choice and see its importance in the local economy.  And, we believe access to healthy food is a right and understanding where your food comes from is empowering.

We have a long track-record of partnership with community organizations, including:

  • Boy Scouts of America
  • The City of Long Beach
  • Conservation Corps of Long Beach
  • Friends of the LA River
  • Long Beach Organic
  • Long Beach City College
  • Long Beach Tree Planting Program / Port of Long Beach
  • University of California Master Gardeners
  • USDA
  • Wrigley is Going Green

 

To teach farming based on organic principles to create food security through education, farmer training and cooking classes in collaboration with our local partners.

Farm Lot 59 is a working organic farm, an educational center that is used to foster inspiration and exploration into food and farming.

 

Sasha Kanno

Founder & Farmer

Sasha is the founder of Long Beach Local, an agriculture based non-profit holding the lease for Farm Lot 59. She is the farmer and vision behind Farm Lot 59. Her mission is to grow the best varieties, rare and heirloom best suited for this climate of coastal desert and to train the next generation of urban farmers. She has been awarded numerous grants and awards for her work in the community as a leader, innovator and driving force in the local food movement. She lives in Wrigley with her husband, young son, backyard chickens, fish, dog and a tortoise.

 

Purpose

To teach farming based on organic principles to create food security through education, farmer training and cooking classes in collaboration with our local partners.

Farm Lot 59 is a working organic farm, an educational center that is used to foster inspiration and exploration into food and farming.

  • We envision a world where all people have access to healthy food and value where it comes from
  • Farmers have the tools and knowledge to succeed on our farm or on their own
  • Teachers can incorporate an edible education into their classroom using organic practices
  • Chefs use farm to table principles promoting locally sourced ingredients, seasonality, and direct purchasing

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