Puro Plants was originally created by Matthew Ramos to promote healthy lifestyles and environments in his community of Montebello and East LA.
Matthew's interest for healthy lifestyles and environments began in 2012 while he was living in New York City. That year hurricane Sandy flooded lower Manhattan and stalled all bridges and tunnels in and out of the city. It caused a short food shortage and power outages on the island. Although temporary, the event was a wake up call. He questioned how his he could make lifestyle choices to positively impact the global ecology and his own health. He was inspired to start transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle.
After hurricane Sandy he was inspired to move to Nicaragua and immerse himself in indigenous culture. He found a country living between two worlds: one with a higher sense of tribal community and another focused on developing and integrating global capitalism. What influenced him the most was the food systems and access to natural resources: fruit trees were abundant, open air markets offered local homegrown vegetables and a majority of fresh food, including fish, traveled less than five miles. How could he integrate this into his native city?
He realized the importance of growing food locally and communally to support densely populated urban areas.
When he returned to East Los Angeles he lived in an apartment with a small grassy area that he turned into a garden where he grew corn, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers. He started an instagram to share and inspire his neighbors, originally called @UrbanGrowProgram.
When Matthew was a child he would pass a plot of land that laid vacant except for the power lines above in Montebello. In 2020, he applied to license that plot of land with Southern California Edison to start a new venture called Puro Plants: a community supported farm that would create soil and grow food to distribute back to the community. Puro Plants broke ground in September 2020 and became a healthy hub for the community, offering a space for neighbors to drop-off compost, children's programs, gardening classes, farmers/artisanal markets and more. The plan for Puro Plants also included acquiring the restaurant directly adjacent to the farm to create a farm-to-table restaurant to nourish the community.
For a year Puro Plants was highly successful in encouraging the community to adopt healthy lifestyles. Some accomplishments included:
-60,000 pounds of diverted organic material for compost and ground cover
-Hundreds of pounds of local grown organic food distributed to the community
-Over 900 students educated on compost, healthy eating and growing food
-Multiple successful health events and artisan fairs with community
We also collaborated with multiple organizations including Americorps, LA. Compost, The Energy Coalition, Valle Lindo School District and countless local businesses. This all was accomplished at the height of the Covid lockdowns without handouts from the local government.
Puro Plants' counter philosophy of CDC mandates created tension with local government, who forced our landlord to close Puro Plants farm 1 year and 1 month after it opened.
Puro Plants continues to inspire and educate community through pop-ups, consulting and social media. The plan is to find a new home or franchise the blueprint somewhere in the world.