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Guest Column: Farm to Table movement sees growth in Seal Beach Susan Abir | Thu, Jan 11 2018 03:59 PM

The farm to table movement can be seen in Seal Beach menus and in internet ads for local restaurants more often.  Current ads on social media have begun highlighting the farm to table sourced ingredients.  But for all the recent hype surrounding the movement, farm to table activity has been in Seal Beach for a long time.  Take Walt’s Wharf for instance, which in 1970 wanted to supply our local area with, “something more locals [for fish] than driving to Newport Beach or San Pedro”.  Walt’s Wharf owners continued to do this by growing organic vegetables and lettuces for the restaurant on their 110 acre Lompoc farmland when they reopened the restaurant in 1979.  It could be argued that this is the reason why many other restaurant alternatives have come and gone while Walt’s has a steady stream of guests filling the benches just outside their doorway.

More recently, the farm to table trend has received a push in support in our local area from Long Beach Fresh: a strong local coalition for urban agriculture which connects “Eaters, Feeders, and Seeders with resources, partners, and models empowering them to resolve their needs and use their offerings.”  To this end, LB Fresh recently helped pass a local ordinance to support allocating land for community gardens.  Eighteen to twenty parcels, previously vacant lots, have been allocated for this purpose with owners of the lots receiving a 10% property tax cut.  Ryan Smolar, Project Co-Coordinator at LB Fresh, noted “there is one lot farmer who is selling now to three local restaurants. “

As demand rises for seasonally fresh fruit and vegetables the LB Fresh model offers a viable alternative filling the gap created by small family farms and growers who are selling their spaces to seek new enterprises.  Advocates in the farm to table movement point out diminishing flavor profiles of produce shipped from abroad; This is easily verified at the local market where consumers can pick out a number of different types of fruit and vegetables without any scent content or significant flavor.

Community gardening like the type LB Fresh supports, offers growers control over nurturing complex flavor development, nutritional content, and food safety, which in recent years large commercial agriculture has struggled to secure.  More importantly, community supported agricultural arrangements have helped incorporate forms of food traceability: allowing restaurant owners and patrons alike to know where the food they use and eat comes from.

Smolar adds “We are still seeking proposals for the West LB lot at 2800 Santa Fe Ave. “ Interested parties in Seal Beach can have their names added to a list for being appointed to a lot for growing food.  A local associate has a ground tiller for usage.  More information is available at www.LBFresh.org where you will find news, project teams, and opportunities as well as other great gateways of entry to join in on urban agriculture as the farm to table movement grows in Seal Beach.

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