Here is a breakdown of the assignments as itemized on the syllabus.

Below you will find a more exact description of each.

5%         grocery store comparison essay—500w and 1 photo w/caption, due by class time Thursday Jan 24. Email to

This assignment asks you to reflect on how access to fresh produce plays out in 2 different venues–grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or other locations. Ideally, you will choose 2 locations that represent different neighborhoods, constituencies of shoppers, scales, suppliers, or other distinct differences. The object is to reflect on how different places and people have different access to fresh, healthy, affordable nutritious food–or how they do not. The goal is to concretely get a sense of what a people living in a “food desert” might be missing out on.

Elements you also may want to pay attention to are: variety of stuff; condition of stuff; displays, labels and information availability; human elements like produce clerks who might “interpret” or locate things for you; whether or not the store takes EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer, or debit cards that let you access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps); design and marketing within the store, as well as walking itineraries and sightlines (adult displays versus soda displays targeted at kids, etc.). Comparing one single veggie/fruit/variety across the stores will give you a stronger basis of comparison.

Some examples are available on the CCLE site, in Week 3. These essays focus on the USC area, and since it was winter (March, when the assignment was due), they focus on the seasonal veggies we were growing at the time, like chard, kale, collards.

10%       site visit/hands-on write-up–by end of Quarter

This assignment asks you to participate in and write up a visit to one Urban Ag project in the LA area.

10%       5pp paper—topic given, due Feb 5–>12


The purpose of this paper is to ask you to reprise arguments that come from the most prominent voices of food writing and writing on agriculture today. Please choose one of the following topics:

1) FOCUS on CRITIQUE: compare and contrast 2 critiques of modern industrial farming that you have encountered so far. You can define “critique” in a number of ways–stance, tone, choice of alternate method or mission. In what ways does the writer define a problem, detail a (flawed) history, imagine or map a solution, and/or reflect on his success?

2) FOCUS on ADVOCACY: compare and contrast 2 methods of advocating for an alternative to modern farming that we have encountered. How does the writer/filmmaker ally himself with the cause? What kinds of evidence, emotion, or rhetoric does he choose; are rhetorical forms important to his message? Which do you find most effective and why–and don’t forget to spell out WHAT you think he is advocating for.

* if this seems like too big or baggy a topic, think about taking the last page or so of your paper to map out how these insights might affect your method or activity in your own gardening practice.

10%       book review, expanded from assigned reading or reading list—post to blog

15%       3 entries for LAUAR website—annotated bibliography (from models). You can see some examples here:

5%         garden how-to quiz–documentation techniques, analysis/practical use of tools. The quiz is here: garden literacy quiz_2013. You can do it and email it directly to me.

25%       10pp final paper

10 % proposal + 15% final paper

10%       garden tasks (3)—post to blog with photo

10%       participation

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