Almanac II

2021 was an insane year to create, publish, and distribute a book about urban farming to a niche audience. But then again, is there a “normal” year to choose to create an almanac in this day and age? It turned out to be an insanely gratifying project that created new friendships, raised hundreds of dollars for two local food justice causes in LA, and was just a lot of fun to put together.

We sold out of the print version, but the FREE digital book is still on this website!

This blog was pretty quiet after the release of the almanac because:

  • I was unexpectedly offered my DREAM JOB and ended up transitioning into my new role just a few weeks ago
  • The almanac team and I were spending most of our time promoting the almanac and figuring out how to ship them to get them into your hands (THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE LOVE AND SUPPORT!)
  • I was fortunate to travel to Quebec (again) right before Thanksgiving so I wanted to unplug and just enjoy the trip (maybe I’ll write a separate entry about why I love the province so much; it has to do with their amazing food culture and urban planning, ofc)
  • Honest to God? I was just feeling burned out
  • It’s funny how when you start composting/gardening so you can write about the experience, you spend more time outside rather than inside with your laptop
A poor quality photo with the highest quality team who made the almanac happen!!

So this year, my plan is to actually bring my phone with me to my little wild garden so I can share the growth with you and provide realistic compost updates (it wasn’t as gross as I thought it would be and my garden LOVED the first layer I laid down before the rain storm).

Lastly, you probably noticed this entry is titled “Almanac II”. I haven’t been online, but offline, our team has been going to working group meetings and having internal talks about how we want to continue collaborating and growing the almanac in a way that is sustainable for ourselves, too.

I’m excited to share that, yes, there WILL be an Almanac II this year! It won’t look exactly like the first almanac, and we will be printing way more copies this time because…..(drumroll in my head) we are going to offer the print copies at local farmers markets and independent bookstores! We do plan to update the existing 2021 digital almanac sometime this year, too- we want to add some urban farms and farmers markets we missed the first time, and update the community directly as well.

Thank you to everyone who has been following along with this crazy, hyper-local project. I can’t wait to share more about what Almanac II will be! If you haven’t seen the first almanac yet, you can download a free copy at shegrowscities.com/almanac.

Thanks for making it this far. If you’re interested in more shegrowscities updates, I update @shegrowscities on IG regularly. And thanks for reading this blog about a girl who hates dirt and worms but tries to garden and compost anyway.

summer bummer

As hills burn in California, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the individual sacrifices we’ve all had to make this year. I think about my nail artist, my hair unnie, my favorite local restaurants, and of course, all my friends who were looking forward to finishing school, moving on from a toxic work place, or travel.

And then, doing my field research for the sustainability almanac brings me even more perspective. Farm stands serving their communities with masks on, community produce bins encouraging anyone who depends on food stamps to help themselves, and volunteers dripping sweat in valley heat to rotate crops as summer winds down. I start thinking about the migrant workers who are literally bending over backwards to feed all of us while getting paid just a few dollars a day with no benefits and no workers’ rights.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some qualitative thoughts on site visits I made to three urban farms and gardens: SOW‘s community garden, The Ecology Center, and Ave 33 Urban Farm. My biggest takeaway so far is every community deserves access to fresh produce, but we still have a ways to go to make this accessible to low-income families. It’s easy for me to drive up to LA to pick up my $30 produce box and enjoy the fresh herbs and tomatoes within a week- but how is that a viable option for a mom trying to feed a family?

I want to wrap up this season’s recap with a brief story. Recently, I observed an online thread about using cloth diapers. The OP was urging all moms to abandon disposable diapers for cloth diapers because they are better for the environment- and then OP broke down how many diapers you would need for one baby, how many you would need to wash on an average week, and so on. While I think people should definitely consider incorporating sustainable lifestyle changes, I do not think it’s realistic or fair to expect people to try to live zero-waste. This cloth diaper conversation made me realize that people who are unaware of sustainability may also be turned off by this type of attitude. Many people out there assume that sustainable lifestyle= expensive, unrealistic changes that demand zero-waste results.

I want to write my almanac for anyone who wants to learn about sustainability- what the word means, how it applies to individuals, and what one can do to make long term, affordable, and healthy changes to do their part in fighting climate change. And you don’t need to figure these things out alone- I’m finding out already that there is a huge community out here in LA ready to help.

2021 Sustainability Almanac Project

Click here to take the COMMUNITY SURVEY!

Good morning! I’m so excited to share this BIG ANNOUNCEMENT with you all.

In partnership with Sustain Our World, I will be writing a Sustainability Almanac for the Los Angeles region and releasing it for FREE in 2021.

Traditionally, an almanac is an annual publication that serves as a calendar of events and also contains important statistical information such as weather patterns, farmer’s planting dates, and the like.

I wanted to create an almanac dedicated to sustainable living for LA residents because I noticed there are many different resources out there for urban farms, local sustainability brands, mom and pop stores, and micromobility options, but it is difficult to find one guidebook on how to use these resources to make one’s own life directly more sustainable.

For instance, I have been getting a lot of calls from community gardens and non-profits that share similar goals in terms of urban farming and sustainable living, but they have never met each other before! My hope is this online guide will serve as a one-stop resource that not only lists local organizations, businesses, and farms that you can support, but also teaches you something you do not know but wish you did.

If you wanted to learn how to live without a car in LA, this guide can help you.

If you wanted to learn why your elected official isn’t doing enough on climate change, and what you can do about that, this guide can help you.

If you don’t know who your elected officials are, and you want to live more sustainably but you rent your home and are unsure if you are allowed to compost, install solar panels, or start a garden, this guide can help you!

This almanac will be informative and, most importantly, contain the most accurate and current data about existing farms, gardens, green space, and public transit maps. But I want to ask YOU what you want to see in this book. What will be most helpful to you? Until October 1, I am releasing a community survey open to all LA County residents so I can receive your direct feedback on what should be in the almanac. Please feel free to share this widely- the more community engagement, the better the results will be.

I can’t believe I can finally share this with you. This has been in the works for several weeks and I can’t wait to show you the final product.

Here is the survey link: https://forms.gle/v1xp5ZWjcjHtgZzZ7

THANK YOU for sharing widely and filling it out for yourself!
Love,
Jamie