GIS Research Lab Maps Landscape of Need for Los Angeles Community Gardens

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Access to fresh, healthy food is limited in many low income neighborhoods, a phenomenon that has lead to the description of “food deserts” where only low quality and unhealthy foods are available.  As part of the City of Los Angeles’ food policy efforts, the City sponsored research to describe these food deserts and how they might be ameliorated through community gardens in underserved areas.

SSI Research Professor Travis Longcore and Ph.D. candidate Christine Lam, along with Alina Bokde of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and Dr. Mona Seymour of Loyola Marymount University, developed a comprehensive metric to describe the need for better food that combined distance to existing full-service supermarkets, distance to existing community gardens and farmer’s markets, demographics (e.g., high youth and elderly populations), income, and prevalence of youth obesity.

The multi-criteria community gardens needs map highlights those areas have few options for health food and have a vulnerable population in need of better food options.  The analysis also presented a case study for South Los Angeles, where it identified locations where new community gardens might be located, including vacant publicly owned parcels, surplus properties from the City of Los Angeles, and potential multiple use sites such as schools and religious institutions.

The report, LA Gardens: Mapping to Support a Municipal Strategy for Community Gardens, is available online, as are maps of community garden need for the City of Los Angeles, and maps for South Los Angeles showingopportunity sites and and garden siting considerations.  Google Earth kmz files are also available for thelandscape of needexisting community gardens, and existing farmers markets.

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust was founded to grow healthier, safer and stronger communities by creating small, accessible urban parks and gardens that help remedy the critical lack of green and recreational spaces in greater Los Angeles’ underserved neighborhoods.

The USC Spatial Sciences Institute GIS Research Laboratory seeks to develop cutting edge geographic analysis tools and to apply those tools in ways that increase knowledge of the built and natural environments while training the next generation of geographic information scientists.

10/19/11 Update on Community Gardens

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Community Garden Council, the UCCE Common Ground Garden Program, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, has created “A Guide to Los Angeles’ Community Gardens”.

The PDF guide, and its Google Map companion, indicate the location of 79 community gardens across Los Angeles County.  Both resources are available from the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust’s homepage ( and at the following direct links:

“A Guide to Los Angeles’ Community Gardens” (PDF) –

Google Map of Los Angeles’ community gardens –

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