Crop Swaps are an Uptown Victory – Fresh Impact Features

The North Long Beach Crop Swap began in August 2016 at the North Long Beach Victory Garden. A partnership between Long Beach Fresh and the Nehyam Neighborhood Association, the swap was chosen by residents as a top strategy to take control of their food and their health through the Kaiser Heal Zone initiative. The Crop Swap is one of LB Fresh’s proudest projects for the amount of food, cultural knowledge and social capital that gets created and exchanged freely.

One of the most recent swaps at the North Long Beach Victory Garden

In five years, the swaps have seen an estimated 5 tons of neighborhood produce swapped and shared since the beginning, with an average of 30 households attending each month on the First Saturday at 10am, and 800 registered in the network. And this doesn’t include the many spin-off swaps that have occurred!

Ernae is a legend in urban agriculture in North Long Beach who’s used the crop swaps regularly. Here, she takes the lead in finding good homes for these dragon fruit clippings.

Long Beach Fresh played a key role in empowering the project to get started, measuring results and managing grants from Kaiser Healzone and the Health Department. When funding ended in 2019, Long Beach Fresh worked with the community to build a sustainability plan and to support new swaps cropping up in Central and West Long Beach. We also published a guide on how to start a crop swap, and accelerated partnerships for the site’s continued growth.   

Our guide has been shared far and wide! We provide support for anyone who wants to start a swap!

A true hub for community-based health transformation, the site has been used for free food distributions, a donation-based farm stand, annual seedling giveaways with thousands of tomato plants, and dozens of gardeners receiving and giving training (with many going on to become UC Master Gardeners.) 

Some of the produce offered at Phil’s Farmstand, named after long-time volunteer Phil Giesen. LB Fresh secured Arts Council funds to design and kick off the project with the help of local artist Amy Tanaka.
Neighbors share their bounty at a summer swap in 2018

Long Beach Fresh also helped The Crop Swap to adjust during the pandemic in many ways to continue to support local food access and community. We hosted digital crop swaps via ZOOM, promoted porch pickups, a mobile app for swapping, and hosted swaps and food giveaways when approved by the Health Department.

The site of North Long Beach Victory Garden boasts a drought-tolerant landscape in the front, and garden and orchard in the back!

Re-envisioning the use of this old fire station in partnership with community leaders and Vice-Mayor Rex Richardson (whose field office is on site) is a stunning example of how our community-driven model for food systems changes neighborhood environments. The site also helps to complement nearby sites that we’ve partnered to develop, like the Michelle Obama Library Teaching Garden, and the coming Community Marketplace Food Hub, to create a full spectrum of “seeders” across Uptown. The network of growers that the site has raised up have spread their roots to West Long Beach as well, helping to start the first Chef’s garden at Casa Chaski’s Peruvian restaurant most recently!

The Michelle Obama Library Teaching Garden is still going strong, after hosting some swaps, and being supported by leadership connected to the crop swaps. This was a partnership with Rex Richardson, OurFoods, LB Fresh, and LBPL.

Support Long Beach Fresh this week during Long Beach Gives September 17th thru 23rd as we refresh our commitment to community-based food system transformation with a goal $15,000. With your support, we promise to continue helping local eaters, feeders, and seeders accelerate their efforts to improve community and environmental health and wellness.

For large donations and sponsors, please call (562) 704-6909 to connect with our co-Directors Ryan Smolar and Tony Damico.

Long Beach Fresh is a community-based organization that is fiscally hosted by Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.