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Sustainability Spotlight: The Growing Experience

Release Date: 2020-03-30

The Growing Experience is a 7-acre urban farm and community garden located within the Carmelitos Housing Development that provides fresh produce and safe green space. The community garden has been serving the Carmelitos community for over 20 years. In 2008, the Growing Experience was established and transitioned the site into an urban farm with programs and a farm stand available to the community. With 4 acres of farm land and 3 acres of community garden, including 60 raised garden plots and a variety of free programs, the Growing Experience is dedicated to making sustainability and fresh produce accessible in a park-poor area of North Long Beach.

The Growing Experience farms over 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs through organic and aquaponic agriculture methods. The aquaponic system has over 100 vertical towers with two 650-gallon fish tanks, and produces 20lbs of greens per week including herbs and lettuce greens. The Growing Experience distributes approximately 100 pounds of produce every week through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription box. The CSA box is available for pick-up for $20 and contains 8 to 10 seasonal fruits and vegetables and one herb. The Growing Experience is also home to a farm stand that provides fresh, organic produce every Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.*

“We offer more than just healthy produce,” said Holly Carpenter, program manager at The Growing Experience. “We offer safe green space and we offer opportunities for youth to learn using hands-on experience. We’re always looking for ways to partner in the community and look for innovative programs around art, youth, and sustainability.”

Programs at the Growing Experience encourage community engagement and provide educational opportunities that focus on urban agriculture, sustainability, and nutrition. Programs for youth include Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) programs which provide access to summer, spring-break, and after-school programs that focus on agriculture, utilizing local food systems, health and nutrition, and local ecology. Cooking workshops also teach youth and families about healthy cooking and eating and promote vegetarian meals while providing access to fresh, organic produce.

Programs and tours are free to the public, and garden plots are available free for seniors 65 years and over, in exchange for volunteer work, or for $100 per year. Volunteer opportunities are available every other Sunday.* Residents and businesses are also able to drop off their food scraps for composting to help feed the farm’s produce. Find more information about The Growing Experience on their website, or contact Holly Carpenter at holly.carpenter@hacola.org.

*Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the farm will be closed until further notice as a safety precaution. Compost may be deposited in marked bins outside the gate. The farm stand and CSA will be cancelled until further notice.