In a crime-riddled area of North Long Beach, The Growing Experience has transformed a former trash dump into one of the state's most successful urban farms. This week, TGE was honored with an an Award of Merit from the California State Association of Counties for its innovative methods of providing social services to its clients.

Located at the Carmelitos housing project, the 6.5-acre plot of land is divided into a 4-acre urban farm and a 2.5-acre community garden. In a neighborhood where the average income of residents is $12,500, there is no major grocery store and many residents have limited transportation options, TGE was recognized for supplying fresh produce via its community-supported agriculture program.

TGE focuses one sustainable gardening, including a composting program, rain barrels to harvest rainwater and solar landscape lighting. When they're not busy with all of that, TGE also provides job training and mental health counseling.

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