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News of the North

Nurturing Health & Sustainability: Firehouse Community Farms 

By Shelbie Nguyen

Climate action can look vastly different to a vast array of communities. As a College Corps Fellow, I am part of a cohort of students across the state stepping up to engage in community efforts pertaining to focus areas like food insecurity and climate action. Firehouse Community Farm in North Long Beach became a partner site of interest upon discovering their strong passion for community engagement. When I heard they would be hosting a vegan event, being plant-based myself, I absolutely had to check it out. 

As I drove down Orange to Firehouse Community Farm, I took note of the liquor stores that seemed to be at the corner of every street. I would later learn that the lack of adequate healthy food markets could partially be attributed to the practice of redlining, where banks and lenders would map out areas to disinvest in. Difficulty funding quality education and grocery stores would be exacerbated by this practice of disinvestment in disadvantaged communities, detracting resources away from areas like North Long Beach (Woo 2015). Woo emphasizes the culture of poverty, drugs, and violence in “certain parts” of Long Beach.


College Corps partner Angela Aguiana getting with the bee-siness! A bee from the colony sits on her finger.

Firehouse Community Farm stood in stark contrast. When I first arrived, I almost missed it. Hidden in plain sight, it stood humbly on the corner of the street—the very same street where its community resided. 

University of California Master Gardeners transformed the firehouse site into a teaching farm called Firehouse Community Farm, which hosts a monthly crop swap, gardening classes, farm dinners, apiculture, and composting, among other activities. 

Currently, few Americans grow their own food. Instead, we depend on the industrial food chain to grow, transport, package, and produce our consumables. The activities at Firehouse Community Farm reflect strength in the community and less reliance on the culture of specialization, which employs constituents to rely on industrialist entities to care for their needs. 

North Long Beach has been identified in federal studies for its high incidence of early onset childhood obesity and diabetes. Firehouse Community Farm strives to teach people how to grow their own fruits and vegetables, allowing them to adapt a healthier diet in a safe, accessible space within the community. 


Damon Lawrence offers seed samples while explaining the co-op plan. 

Firehouse Community Farm fosters a strong presence within the North Long Beach community, serving as a paragon of progress toward a healthier, more sustainable environment. 

The vegan festival featured many ambitious members of the community hoping to foster meaningful change. Damon Lawrence from the Long Beach Grocery Cooperative explained how the group plans to create a local community-owned grocery store. 


Fellow College Corps partners within the "Climate Action" aspire to build a community composting project.


College Corps composting partner Angela tending to the snack and survey station.

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