Crop Swop L.A.

In America, more than 23 million people live in “food deserts,” areas with little or no access to fresh food, mostly within cities.

When Los Angeles resident Jamaiah Hargins realized his local food desert, he planted a backyard garden for his family. He did not expect the overwhelming abundance of fresh food that would come with it. Not wanting to waste it, he reached out to neighbors and online to invite people to exchange whatever garden extras they had for his.

What started as a simple way to share too many lemons, beans and herbs, grew into a weekly crop swap with other city gardeners, who helped one another to grow and share food for their families and the community at large.
When the group grew to over 100 urban growers, Hargins created the official organization, “Crop Swap LA.”

The group encourages local gardening and the sharing of anything extra – seeds, seedlings, soil, compost, as well as extra food and knowledge. No money changes hands, and the exchange is built on an honor system.

Crop Swap LA eventually outgrew Hargins’ backyard and became the “West Adams Farmers Market”, located in a transformed parking lot, complete with 10 stalls, food trucks, live music, and free yoga. The organization has also branched out into workshops for kids, and other community-focused offerings.

Its next big project is a for-profit yard-sharing program, where homeowners share their yards with the Crop Swap team, which will plant an edible plot. They are also looking at more parking lots and rooftops to farm.

“Really, our goal is to take unused space and farm it to create green jobs, sell that food, and create better health,” Hargins said.

Crop Swap La has grown like a weed, a beneficial one, that serves a community in need, turning a-once food desert into a garden oasis.