Los Angeles is seeing green, and we’re not talking about not money or jealousy. Instead, we’re referring to grass, and it’s sprouting in unusual spots: vacant lots.
Across L.A. and southern California, From Lot to Spot is taking old abandoned lots and beautifying the space — turning it into community gardens and public parks.
Founder and Executive Director Viviana Franco started the nonprofit back in 2009 after witnessing the lack of public space and fresh, healthy food access in low-income communities. So, she decided to get to work turning old lots into green space and parkland.
“I founded From Lot to Spot seven years ago out of a need in my personal neighborhood Hawthorne and Inglewood ,” Franco tells Sustainable Cities Collective. “There was an abundance of vacant lots. So I went to school to learn.”
The group’s projects include the 118th & Doty Pocket Park in Hawthorne, Larch Avenue Park in Lawndale and the Stanford/Avalon Community Garden in Los Angeles, as well as a mass projection in Riverside.  Working with the community, From Lot to Spot helped Riverside improve already existing parks, such as the Tequesquite Community Garden, Arlanza Community Garden and East Side Community Garden at Emerson Elementary School. These are only a few of the many projects on which the group has worked.
From Lot to Spot’s target is low-income food deserts where fresh, local food is scarce and fast-food restaurants and liquor stores thrive. Historically, many of these areas also contain large populations of Hispanics and African Americans.
The hope is that the parks and gardens will reverse the current health trends in these areas of obesity and diabetes and encourage healthy lifestyles. Parks provide a comfortable place for walks and exercise, and community gardens not only offer fresh food, but also boost the local economy, as well.
Although From Lot to Spot has grown over the past eight years, Franco has high hopes for the future as there is still much more work to be done. Her goals include the creation of 20 more farms by 2020, more partnerships with local organizations and increased access to local food in Riverside and Southern California.
“From a health and sustainability standpoint, local food is intrinsic,” Franco says to Sustainable Cities Collective. “There are no geographical limits of low access to healthy foods.”
MORE: This Startup Uses Urban Relics to Serve Up Local Food