Special Projects, The Food Issue

Farming under the wire

Editor’s note: The following text is a preview of “Farming under the wire,” a story told through a combination of words, photos and video. Each medium offers action and emotion for this multidimensional story that cannot be conveyed through only one of these methods. The full version of “Farming under the wire” can be found on Adobe Spark

Bell Gardens, CAWhere the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers meet, under the Edison electrical line that runs alongside the Los Angeles River, swaths of brown one story homes and gray industrial buildings are disrupted by patches of green. These gardens sit on land that cannot be built upon because of the towering wires that block the space above. As a result, some plots under the line are used for urban farms.

The Ornelas farm is one such farm. Edgar Ornelas and his father Jose Luis Ornelas grow, cut and prepare herbs, fruits and vegetables. But unlike most farmers, the backdrop for their operation is the bustling city of Bell Gardens.

The two-man operation sells food in a number of surrounding cities by participating in local farmers markets such as the Long Beach Bixby Knolls market on Tuesdays. They also use their produce to sustain their own family.

Jose started his farm years ago after moving from Jalisco, Mexico, where he had previously been a farmer. After establishing the small plot of land they acquired, Edgar started helping with the business.

Edison has begun requiring that some farms in the area grow their produce in pots, which restricts the amount they can cultivate. The father and son worry their operation will get more expensive and they may lose their family farm forever.

 

Story by Hannah Getahun

Video by Paula Kiley

Photo by Austin Brumblay

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