Farm Lot 59 reopens after vandalism in 2016

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Photos by Izzie Hallock | Signal Tribune
Farm Lot 59, which closed last November after acts of vandalism, reopened on Saturday, July 15 thanks to community fundraising.

Farm Lot 59, a local neighborhood farm on California Avenue, has reopened to the public after recovering from acts of vandalism last year.

Sasha Kanno, the founder of the nonprofit Long Beach Local that manages the farm, said that during the nearly seven years Farm Lot 59 served Signal Hill and Long Beach, it frequently suffered from on-and-off vandalism.

However, the farm experienced its most destructive act of vandalism last November.

“It was the worst […] victimization that we’ve had,” Kanno said.

She added that since the farm lacks security and electricity, the vandals were able to rip out irrigation and destroy the lot.

Ollie Cigliano, the owner and operator of Farm Lot 59, explained that the farm hosted a fundraiser on March 22 at Roe, a seafood restaurant on 2nd Street, to raise the money needed to recover after the incident and ultimately help fund the installation of electricity in the future.

Currently, Farm Lot 59 is only open on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm because of the unavailability of electricity.
With electricity, however, the farm will have more options as a business.

“[The farm] will be open more days and have more things like humanely sourced meat, organic milks […] and organic bacon,” Cigliano said.

Along with the possible electrical improvement, Kanno said, “the City of Long Beach did fix the main fence, along with the California Avenue improvements and streetlights. […] It is going to be great to improve safety.”

The addition of the fence was a part of Long Beach Public Works’ construction on California Avenue, and Long Beach Public Affairs Officer Kerry Gerot explained the completed project.

“The California Avenue Widening Project removed the existing park perimeter fence to add sidewalks along the east side of California [Avenue], then [replaced] the same fence that was previously removed to a new location a few feet back from the new sidewalk,” Gerot said.

The City is also currently working on developing Willow Springs Park, which will be located behind Farm Lot 59.
Kanno said the new park is on land owned by Long Beach Parks, Recreation & Marine, which has developed the surrounding area into an open space.

“They just completed [the park] now,” Kanno said. “It’s not even really opened yet.”

The development of Willow Springs Park and the California Avenue Widening Project that the City completed— although not intentionally set out for Farm Lot 59— has proven advantageous for the farm’s reopening after the November incident.

“That’s been really helpful to clear the space around us and open it up to hopefully get more people here using this whole area,” Kanno said.

Visitors to Farm Lot 59 are welcomed to view the organic farm and see where the products are being grown.

Farm Lot 59 differentiates itself from other farms by selling all organic products, according to Cigliano.
“Everything is organically grown,” she said. “You will always know where the [produce] is from, and one of the reasons that is unique is because there are some farm stands that have actually been filmed […] going to Los Angeles and buying commercial produce off of a truck and then selling it at their stand as if they had grown it themselves.”

Cigliano emphasized that Farm Lot 59 sells products that are not native to Long Beach.

A few of the organic products include gaviota strawberries, Weiser Farms’ potatoes, sugar melons and duck eggs, she explained.

“We are entrepreneurs, we are educators, we are gardeners, but we are all women,” Kanno said, “and I think it’s a really unique place […] in a very congested city where people can come and experience nature and an edible environment.”

To help Farm Lot 59 afford the necessary electricity, donations are being accepted through longbeachlocal.org.