LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- University of California Cooperative Extension feeds the body and the spirit of low-income Los Angeles County residents by helping them supplement their diets with fresh produce while enhancing the sense of purpose and pride that comes from self-sufficiency.
The UCCE Common Ground Program assists residents in gardening, composting, and safely handling and preserving their garden-grown food. The gardens have also been used to train new gardeners for jobs in Los Angeles' $171 million green industry.
In all, there are 60 community gardens scattered throughout Los Angeles County. They provide fresh, healthful produce to low-income residents who otherwise might be challenged by cost and transportation to add fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets on a regular basis.
"All the pretty stuff aside, we're talking food here. Subsistence," said Yvonne Savio, UC Cooperative Extension Common Ground Program manager.
The program is unique in California. Only 20 metropolitan areas nationwide receive the federal funding to support low-income gardeners. In place since the 1970s, UCCE's Los Angeles County Common Ground assists food bank gardens, gardens at halfway houses and shelters for homeless people and abused women, school gardens and senior citizen gardens.
The outreach is done by UC Master Gardeners, who are gardening enthusiasts trained …