At the intersection of Grandview and Pacific at the Sunday , a humble vegetarian and vegan food-service booth called Urban Green serves up a much bigger message. Rickey Smith, founder of this social entrepreneurship, calls his message a CLEAR one: “Urban Green combines Cuisine, Land use, Environment and Architecture and makes everything Regenerative.”
The food Urban Green serves at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market is essentially a way to reach out to the community, a chance for people to get to know their food and their mission. I spoke with Rickey about all that Urban Green does for the community.
The retail, for-profit component of Urban Green LLC makes pesto, salads, and granolas for Whole Foods Markets. The organization also offers catering for USC and others, while selling prepared food at the Farmers’ Market for locals.
On the non-profit side, Urban Green Group Foundation is working to create urban development that focuses on growing food during the recession. Over the past eleven years, Rickey and his team have built 3 urban farms with funds from retail sales profits. They have also installed green roof vegetable gardens and a hydroponic system in down town Los Angeles – a known food desert.
Urban Green has 12 volunteers from nearby universities; the group engages students studying architecture and sustainability to build their hydroponics systems for urban farms. From there, “citizens” rather than customers, visit the farms to learn permaculture techniques to implement on their own land, patio, balcony, etc. It’s a proven system the not only builds community, but increases access to fresh produce in urban spaces.
At the Farmers’ Market, citizens can find vegan cuisine featuring Urban Green-grown kale, collards and basil. Mar Vistans can also pick up organic salads and soups for lunch, or grab an Avant-Garden pizza with herbs from the gardens. Got a gluten issue? Try their gluten-free pizza instead.
Another offering, Sweet Spot treats, are low-glycemic desserts with no white, brown or processed sugar. They use fruit juices and brown rice syrup to sweeten their delicious tarts and granola. The hot grill pumps out vegetarian and vegan breakfast burritos – those grills are separate, so dairy ingredients never touch the vegan side. Pick one up for just $6.
Ricky credits Market manager Diana Rogers and her motivation to create a truly community-based Farmers’ Market as the reason for Urban Green’s participation at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market. “Wherever Diana Rogers appears, I know there’s going to be a Market that’s done with integrity.”
Prices range from $5 to $7 for pizzas, salads, and soups. Take-away tubs of Southern Gentleman Dressing and Kale Almond Pesto are $6, and a bag of granola is $7.
To find out more about Urban Green and Rickey’s mission for fresh food for all, visit UrbanGreenla.com.