September 11, 2023 -- Los Angeles, Calif.-- A south Los Angeles urban farm has successfully provided formerly incarcerated men and women with job and educational opportunities, according to a recent study conducted by Pepperdine University School of Public Policy graduate students.
The success rate of participants in ALMA Backyard Farms far exceeds the average employment and educational achievements for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Since its inception in 2013, ALMA has trained more than 350 formerly incarcerated individuals in areas such as urban farming, gardening, landscaping, and carpentry. Of those trained between 2019 and 2022, 60% found employment and 10% pursued higher education, numbers that are especially remarkable in light of White House national data indicating that 75% of ex-prisoners remain unemployed a year after release.
ALMA's farm stand in Compton, situated in a “food desert,” offers top-quality produce at below-market rates. This initiative was especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which ALMA provided grocery boxes to 250 families from neighboring low-income communities.
Researchers found that 95.3% of ALMA’s farm stand customers stated that the food quality exceeds other local options. The quantitative analysis of data from ALMA emphasized the significance of local farm stands, with the majority of respondents rating its produce as better quality than nearby stores, and over 60% reporting to consume more fruit and vegetables due to ALMA's presence.
“The work that ALMA Backyard Farms does in addressing two pressing issues – food injustice and recidivism – has the potential to serve as a model for organizations in other major cities across the country,” said A-Mark Foundation CEO Rob Eshman. “The results of this research underscore the importance of looking at community-driven initiatives to find localized solutions to large-scale problems.”
A summary of the research project is available on the A-Mark Foundation website, “Assessing the Impact of Urban Farming Initiatives in Los Angeles.” The full report and policy analysis is titled “Final Capstone in Collaboration with ALMA Backyard Farms.”