Community Services Unlimited, Inc. is a nonprofit organization based in South Central Los Angeles that I stumbled upon while searching for grocery stores on Yelp.com.
CSU, Inc. runs various programs focused on creating sustainable communities through educating youth about farming and gardening, supporting local farmers, and making locally-grown, fresh produce available to the community.
I met briefly with Neela Sharma, Programs Director of CSU, last week in order to inquire about volunteering. She was at the tail-end of prepping for the weekly Village Marketplace and Farm Fresh Produce Bag program that happen every Thursday at the corner of Menlo & King Blvd. The programs are ambitious and, like most ambitious programs, under-staffed. The Village Marketplace is a produce stand which sells fruit and vegetables that were either grown in CSU's "urban mini-farms" or by local farmers. The Farm Fresh Produce Bag program is similar to CSA: for a small monthly fee, participants can receive seasonal, locally grown produce on a weekly basis ($32/month/1-2 Person Bag, $64/month/3-4 Person Bag).
Finding out about CSU feels like fate, considering all the griping I have been doing lately about "kids these days" being too far removed from their food and how difficult it is to find good produce outside of less-than-convenient-and-likely-expensive farmers' markets. I'm excited to begin volunteering, whether it is on one of the mini-farms or at the produce stand.
It's wonderful to know that there is an alternative to negotiating downtown traffic (of all sorts) to get locally-grown produce, and that it will support such an important organization at the same time.
Village Marketplace by CSU, Inc.
In front of the LA Swim Stadium Pool
3980 Menlo Ave.