Most houses in South Los Angeles have a typical front lawn. But once Jamiah Hargins is done with them, they’re planted with kale, rainbow chard, tomatoes, and enough other produce to feed 50 families in the neighborhood each week.
“My company partners with homeowners who have a front yard and want to do something positive,” says Hargins, the founder of Crop Swap LA, a startup that installs and manages the community gardens, which it calls microfarms. Neighbors pay for monthly subscriptions to the ultra-local food, and homeowners get both a share of the produce and a cut of the proceeds. “We maintain it, but they get part of the income every month,” Hargins says.
When Hargins started a vegetable garden of his own at home a few years ago and ended up growing more than he and his wife could eat, he turned to Nextdoor to set up produce swaps with neighbors. Then he started thinking about how to create the infrastructure to grow local food at a larger scale.
View Park, the neighborhood where the first microfarm has been planted, is considered a food desert because residents there don’t have easy access to large supermarkets. Through Crop Swap LA, residents can subscribe to a 3-pound mix of fresh, organic greens and vegetables for $36 a month, or $43 with delivery.