Cultivating for the Community: Farm Lot 59
If you have ever eaten at the popular Long Beach restaurants Roe Seafood, Panxa Cocina or Chianina Steakhouse, you have tasted the zesty flavors of locally-sourced produce grown by Farm Lot 59, a half-acre urban farm located in a gully on 2714 California Ave.
Farm Lot 59 supplies these restaurants with homegrown fare and is a one-of-a-kind establishment in Long Beach dedicated to supplying all of the neighborhood fresh, organic food at its Farmstand 59 store.
Sasha Kanno, Farm Lot 59’s founder, grew up in Florida and lived in Colorado and Hawaii before moving to Long Beach in the early 2000s. In 2010, she began building the parcel of land that is now Farm Lot 59, which was previously an illegal dump filled mostly with household rubbish.
“We replaced the soil, and the City of Long Beach maintenance department helped us clean up and move all the debris,” Kanno said. “We got clean dirt from another location and built topsoil on top of that so the soil here isn’t native. But it is clean, remediated, and organic now that we’ve been farming on it for so long.”
The farm had been Kanno’s brainchild project from the beginning. Kanno says she didn’t have a background in gardening—she had previously come from the film production industry and was also in floral design—but she had the mindset that she wanted to create a farm on the outset of moving to Long Beach.
“I noticed there was no real local farm in Long Beach and there was an opportunity to create one,” she said. “My brother was a chef but I had no expertise as a grower or professional gardener. You can learn anything from YouTube.”
Since its inception, Farm Lot 59 has grown into a wellspring, supplying the local community and individuals with fresh, organic produce.
“We constantly have people hear about us because they see the [Farm Lot 59] name on the menu at the Long Beach restaurants we supply,” said Kanno. “A lot of people who come from Naples and the Shore eat at our restaurant partners then want to come and take a tour of the farm. It’s a great space and beautiful. It’s amazing that you’re surrounded by nature, yet ten minutes from the metropolitan part of the city.”
This Saturday, July 28, is a perfect opportunity to see Farm Lot 59 during “Farm Roast,” a fundraising event complete with music, food, beer by Phantom Carriage, and ice cream by Long Beach Creamery, available for purchase on site. Chef Art Gonzalez of Roe Seafood and Panxa Cocina will be cooking barbecue for guests, which can be pre-purchased by visiting the Farm Lot 59 website in support of the local farm.
“[Roe, Panxa, and Chianina] work with what’s in season, so we send them a ‘Farm Box’ and plan crops ahead of the season with them and grow what they can’t find commercially,” Kanno said.
This summer, the Farm Boxes have many seasonal items including a bouquet of flowers, herbs, peaches, corn, Japanese potatoes, shishito peppers, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, Bermuda onions, and nectarines. Not only do local restaurants participate in the Farm Box packages, but individual citizens can too by signing up for weekly or biweekly pick up.
Several years after the farm's inception, Kanno says she is still reading and constantly learning about gardening. One of her points of focus at the farm is teaching other people about sustainable practices and working with others to modernize urban agriculture.
“Raised beds are awesome if you want to create a small garden at home in your own backyard,” Kanno said. “You can get kits and make it super simple. Grow what you like to eat. If you like strawberries or your kids like melons, grow that.”
Farmstand 59 is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. where you can participate in the Farm Box program. The Farmstand also hosts a number of special events throughout the year, including cooking demos, yoga at the farm and more. To stay up to date about what’s going on at the farm, visit: http://www.farmlot59.org/
(All photos Copyright 2018 Studio Salt Creative LLC)