Preserving the Environment

Despite Pests and a Lack of Experienced Help, This Woman Found Success Raising Organic Produce

December 17, 2014
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Despite Pests and a Lack of Experienced Help, This Woman Found Success Raising Organic Produce
She's turning Long Beach, Calif., into a local food hub.

When it comes to food, Sasha Kanno is involved in pretty much every aspect of it. A resident of southern California, she’s been working for many years to bring the organic food movement to the region. Between her numerous gardens and her new nonprofit Long Beach Local, Kanno is a pioneer in the field of sustainable agriculture.

With no prior experience in farming, Kanno’s interest was originally piqued by watching YouTube videos, Sustainable Cities Collective reports. Farming became a job, though, after she attended the EcoFarm conference in Monterey, Calif.

From there, she served as the director of the Wrigley Garden – a community garden in Long Beach, Calif., — and went on to co-found Wrigley Co-op Food.

Then came Long Beach Local. The nonprofit biodynamic farm doubles as a training and education center. Its one-acre lot (Farm Lot 59) grows a variety of specialty crops and flowers without a boost from chemicals or pesticides. Farm Lot 59 also boasts egg-laying hens and beehives.

Her work isn’t just for residents, however; she also helps local businesspeople. Every Thursday, Kanno sits down with chefs from the area to plan their menus, and her gardens service six restaurants in Long Beach. Furthermore, she runs a rooftop garden for Michael’s Restaurant Groups, which uses the fresh produce in their restaurants.

When it comes to challenges, there are only two things standing in her way: quality assistance and the bagrada bug. Since Kanno’s work runs on volunteer service, she’s at the mercy of whoever is interested.

“Labor is my biggest challenge,” she tells Sustainable Cities Collective. “It’s hard to find people who are experienced.”

In regards to the bagrada, the insect entered the California scene in 2008 and is especially fond of organic produce, eating just about any crop, while also reproducing quickly and efficiently.

“There’s no organic eradication,” Kanno explains. “The first year it wiped me out. I literally cried.”

Fortunately for Long Beach, Kanno and her crops did survive and continue to thrive. Clearly, neither man nor bug can stop this woman.

MORE: This App Helps Urban Farmers Get Their Crops Growing

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