The Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) is a non-profit organization in Watts with more than fifty years of helping improve lives through social services, housing, arts, and community development. Led by Timothy Watkins Sr., WLCAC has sought to tackle not only immediate survival challenges in Watts but also to dismantle deeper systemic roots to allow residents to thrive. The Watts neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles faces a health crisis with high rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and infant mortality, exacerbated by limited access to healthy food and green space. Timothy and his wife Janine live in the Watts neighborhood, raising six children and now grandchildren, and this stark reality hit home.
With a family history of farming, Janine conceived of a project that would heal the neighborhood by growing not only healthy food, but healthy families. Inspired, Mr. Watkins set out to develop and implement a solution that will educate, empower, and nourish residents locally while serving as a model example nationally for living healthier in park poor neighborhoods that are food deserts.
To form the vision for MudTown Farms, WLCAC sought input from experts across the country including Michael Ableman and Eugene Cook, ultimately leading WLCAC to purchase a 2.5 acre parcel of farm land in Watts in 2005. MudTown Farms is the original name for the segregated blacks-only neighborhood where the parcel rests at the intersection of 103rd and Grape Streets in Watts. For nearly a century, the land has been used for farming or community gardens by local residents. The planned project includes time-tested farming techniques and current innovation to maximize neighborhood impact.
MudTown Farms will be an agriculture park with open space for community gardens, orchards, exercise pathways, reading gardens, and more. The park will also include a community center for teaching, training and events.
In 2012, WLCAC won a $4.9 million competitive grant award from California State Parks to build the first phase of the park. The City of Los Angeles Prop K fund also awarded $208K for construction. MudTown Farms is spearheaded by Haleemah Henderson (MPL), who has worked with WLCAC for more than a decade. Working together with Claremont Environmental Design Group for design and development, a grand opening is expected in late 2018. On Wednesday WLCAC will break ground on MudTown Farms, sowing the seed for a remarkable future in Watts.
Join us on Wednesday February 15th, 2017 at 2051 East 103rd Street Los Angeles CA 90002 at 12 noon!