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The Real Plan to Turn a Huge Swath of Northeast LA and Chinatown Into a Farm

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With a big-time rehab headed for a huge stretch of the LA River, why not start rethinking the surrounding areas? Like, really rethinking. Architect's Newspaper reports that architecture firm Perkins+Will and the LA River Revitalization Corporation headed up a team that examined possible agricultural uses of the land that makes up the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan—the 660-acre area that includes parts of Chinatown, Cypress Park, and Lincoln Heights. The suggestion is not as out-there as one might think. The area already has "food processing and training centers" like LA prep, which rents commercial kitchen space out to chefs and food vendors. It's also zoned for urban agriculture. It's like it's begging to be farmed!

Of course, it's also pretty close to the city center, and there's a pretty good chance that the air and ground aren't exactly pristine (the rehab at the LA State Historic Park in this area was delayed by contaminant clean-up). So the group suggests "hydroponics, aquaponics, and greenhouses" to make the farming viable. The plan also suggests taking all the existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure up a notch, and creating a web of community gardens at the elementary and middle schools in the CASP area.

The work was paid for with money from Prop. 84, which funds water quality projects, but that only covered the study itself. The next step will be to look for money to actually implement these ideas. (And they are just ideas so far, not actual policy that's definitely going to happen.) LA River Revitalization Corp. is talking to the local nonprofits in the CASP area, like Homeboy Industries and Metabolic Studio (the art studio that's putting that big water wheel on the LA River). A rep for LA River Revitalization Corp. says that a corporate-funded "public/private demonstration farm on land owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power" would likely be the first element to be realized.

Pilot projects are slated to start in the spring of this year, though "some related infrastructure has already begun."

· Los Angeles' Green Thumb [AN]
· A Map Guide to the Glorious Future of the Los Angeles River [Curbed LA]
· No Parking Required in Mixed-Use Plan For Cornfield Area [Curbed LA]