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Meet Jamiah Hargins of Crop Swap LA in Mid City, Westside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamiah Hargins.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was raised a military brat, living on Air Force bases between the US and Europe. I have lived in major US cities and abroad which has made me  develop a natural openness to people. This is important because our food movement is more versatile in the long run if we can adapt to the uniqueness in our population. I learned Portuguese and Spanish while living overseas.

My early professional work as a stock and options trader in Chicago exposed me to the finance world, but most of my enjoyable time was spent at a community garden speaking with new Latina families to the country who appreciated the spirituality and community of food growing.

Fed up with cold weather, I moved to Brazil to manage a social enterprise that leveraged rural agriculture and urban business to sustain in orphanage. It was a career changer for me to see a successful company doing so much good work, so I returned to study public policy at Columbia University and understand more about how that can be done.

Later, I became an executive search headhunter who finds specific people for specific roles in education. This became excellent training for what I’m doing now, which requires me to build out a team, delegate those rules, and ensure that everyone is the right person for the right task.

My journey has helped me learn new skills and experiences that help me with the Crop Swap LA.

Has it been a smooth road?
We’ve had a lot of early success but are learning valuable lessons along the way. Specifically, for an organization that leverages community resources and is designed to feedback into the community, it has become important to identify specific roles responsibilities and financial outcomes for those members involved. That gets tricky when different projects require different teammates and ownership can be claimed jointly between different entities. So it has been important to stay clear on agreements and organizational structure so that our leadership team can strategically move us toward our mission.

Please tell us about Crop Swap LA.
I am the founder of the Crop Swap LA. It’s  an organization that hires re-entry citizens and veterans to build and maintain vegetable gardens on residential and commercial spaces. It began when I was expecting my daughter, and began thinking about what the city has available to feed her. The options are shocking and unjust, so I decided to build a vegetable garden to supply the family its needs. It turned out great so when I had extra soil, seeds, food, and equipment, I offered them to other gardeners online. They started joining me in the garden for a monthly “crop swap” for everyone to share. After a few months, there had been over 100 gardeners involved, and numerous opportunities for a business to form around it.

We also run the West Adams Farmers Market. We have been offered over 20 acres of land nearby to farm, and routinely harvest extra fruit from trees nearby. I was named as a Good Food Champion by the City Council of Los Angeles in November 2019, and this program has attracted attention from various press channels and notable figures. We envision food system that harvests nutrient-grown food and places it directly into the restaurants, caterers, and food trucks that serve its people everyday.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The food and health industries are driving us toward famine. It has been dominated by business interrupting nature. Government subsidies are driven by business interests, and business is about product sales.

This creates a false sense of scarcity, that is then reflected in the prices of those food products. Food has doubled its price in the last ten years, which is startling considering wages and income have decreased over that same time period. We are here to say that food is not a product, and that nature can supply abundantly.

For all of our food and health needs, we just need to return to nature.

Pricing:

  • Gardens start at $5,000, and include installation, automated irrigation, nutrient growing seedlings, and 3 months of maintenance
  • Become a vendor at the West Adams Farmers Market for $50 per Market Day

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jamiah Hargins

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