Food sets the scale and character of Southern California culture and ecology. While the region tells a tale of an incomparable food empire, at the local scale, different stories emerge. The industrial scale of food production and distribution structure the challenges of foodsprawl in Southern California in patterns of expansive food miles, isolated food deserts, impassable edges made by the transportation and logistics network, ground water consumption for irrigation, and surface water pollution from agricultural runoff. On the consumer end of this structure, food justice challenges mirror patterns of poverty and limited access.
This sprawling regional infrastructural and settlement armature necessitates the reinvention of spaces and cultures to prioritize access to local healthy food. The Redford Conservancy is committed to adaptive research and engagement projects in support of innovative state, regional, and local efforts on behalf of food justice, especially those that provide direct support to approaches intended to reduce spiking numbers of obese Californians and multiple related functional benefits.
Community, family and individual gardens present a small but supportive response to these imperatives. Thinking and working at this scale by careful planning and design about what food is needed, where it might be grown, and how it is produced and distributed can inflect dominant cultures and economies of food, and reset cultural priorities in larger contexts of health and place. The transformational hypothesis of garden-making is that with the planting and knowledgeable care of home and neighborhood fruit and vegetable gardens comes individual and family access to healthy food resources. And with a productive and ecologically attuned garden comes both diversity and connectivity. In this green infrastructure gardening affirms the everyday values of stewardship and ecological and cultural commitments to identification with place. And in these small acts, food transforms the region.