Ave 33 Farm

Regenerative Agriculture takes a holistic approach to land management, which encompasses not only management decisions but also how we exist and engage in our local communities.

Building a Classroom and Vermicompost on the Farm

Ave 33 Farm, owned and operated by Eric Tomassini and Ali Greer, is an urban farm located in Lincoln Heights – just east of downtown Los Angeles. Before falling in love with farming, Eric taught science at the high-school and college level, and Ali has 13 years of experience working on farms. She has also been running a small worm casting production for eight years. For Eric and Ali, the most exciting part about being accessible to so many people in the greater Los Angeles area is that they can share the farm with community members and discuss the importance of soil health

The first piece of the project is to physically build the classroom.  They have almost completed the construction on an outdoor work space and are seeking funding to outfit the space with materials to run classes. They have partnered with Dave Ellingford to help with the building of the teaching space. Wesley Thatcher will be designing and building the shade structure along with storage walls and areas for displaying educational materials. Once the educational materials are in place, Ave 33 will partner with community organizations to teach lessons about regenerative farming practices.

The second component of the project is to increase their ability to produce compost for compost teas and extracts by purchasing and building a flow-through worm bin from Michigan Soilworks.  Eric has been taking Dr Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web courses and producing compost teas and extracts that they’ve been applying on the farm for over two years.  Using a microscope to analyze the compost and liquid amendments, they have learned how to consistently produce amendments to utilize on the farm.  With the addition of a commercial worm bin, they will be able to make a larger amount of quality compost with less labor and produce enough compost tea and extract to provide for their community.  They already have an 80 gallon brewer that can handle the increase in production.  They’re also requesting a microscope camera so that Eric can show students the biological activity of soil, compost, and liquid amendments.  By showing food scraps being turned into a biological amendment through a flowthrough worm bin, they’ll show exactly how to increase biological activity in the soil and reduce waste.

The third piece of their project is the education component.  Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Eric and Ali had been holding educational tours and volunteer days on the farm, and built a community of urban farmers and gardeners who look to Avenue 33 Farm to learn how to grow food regeneratively in Southern California.  During the pandemic they have continued to have people request to visit and learn at the farm.  They’re in a unique position to create relationships with their community because they are so centrally located to the greater metropolis of Los Angeles. They plan to host neighborhood events and become a regional hub to display carbon sequestering regenerative farming practices. They’ll offer classes on a sliding scale and in both Spanish and English. They recently became certified to accept EBT (SNAP benefits) at their farm store. They will also make the classroom space available to others in the community to host classes about healthy eating, herbalism, and more. They intend to hold seminars on the farm for the community six times per year, and then increase classes according to demand, in addition to producing online instructional videos. 

The ultimate objective of Ave 33’s project is to provide a safe, inclusive space to show regenerative farming in action, produce the amendments necessary to have healthy soil biology along with healthy plant starts, and provide the education necessary to give people a solid understanding and confidence in regenerative practices. Eric and Ali want to teach the benefits of not tilling, keeping permanent roots in the ground, using amendments made from biological processes, and they hope to reach a broad community with these lessons.

To further the education component, they plan to continue the work that Eric developed at The Salvation Army, where he developed a culinary job training program, by providing nutrient dense produce along with healthy eating classes for those who are food insecure in Los Angeles.  They are also working with Schools in Action to support their Farm to School program, as well as El Rio Community School, and are excited to develop more relationships to support school gardens and healthy eating programs in Northeast LA.

The goals for Avenue 33 Farm are to shift sales to EBT and community-funded produce boxes and expand community outreach through partnering with local schools and community organizations focusing on food access in Los Angeles, with guidance and inspiration from organizations like Polos Pantry, People’s Pantry, and the American Heart Association. In addition to growing their community, Eric and Ali are consistently working to build their carbon sequestering capabilities by planting trees and perennials, increasing the soil health through biologically active amendments, and developing their online resources for people looking to grow in the Southern California climate. With the addition of a large worm bin, they’ll host classes and workshops about keeping a worm bin and they’ll sell biologically complete amendments to community members looking to increase their own soil health. 

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