When many people think of Compton, CA it’s most likely in terms of a dangerous neighborhood within Los Angeles, where gangsta rap took hold, and where liquor stores dot most corners instead of grocery stores or farmers markets. Compton is considered a food desert but did you know it was once part of a 75,000 acre cattle ranch and has a rich agricultural history?
Tucked into a ten block corner of Compton is Richland Farms, a rural enclave set aside for agricultural use when Griffith Compton donated the land for incorporation in 1888. Two US Presidents lived here for a while in the 40’s (George Bush Sr and Jr) and amazingly this little ag corner of LA has not only survived, but is home to a community that protects and honors this way of life. Most residents have horses, livestock, and gardens and you’ll find dude ranches, horse breeders and urban farms, including Moonwater Farm.
Created by Kathleen and Richard, Moonwater Farm is a microfarm who opens their doors (or gates, in this case) to local residents, providing a learning environment in organic farming, raising livestock, seasonal food prep and preservation, as well as day retreats and pop-up dinners and other events.
On a recent visit, Kathleen mentioned their initial vision was an aquaponic farm when they first arrived in Richland Farms, but they quickly realized teaching the history and hands on approach to homesteading and supplying training for employment in the food system, was their true passion. And the the day I was there, summer Farm Camp was in full swing for their second year.
Chef David, who volunteers at the camp once a week to teach cooking skills, was teaching the kids how to make homemade pizza during my visit. The kids picked fresh tomatoes, created a pesto sauce from the garden resources, worked on their knife skills, and made their lunch for the day.
On approximately 1/2 an acre of land, you’ll find a few goats, 20 chickens, a tank of fish for the aquaponic tanks, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in both the front and back yards.
Moonwater Farm hosts a variety of workshops and events open to the public as well. Make sure to check out the events tab on their web site. Interested in learning more and getting a tour? On October 28, they are hosting an Open House which will include a tour, potluck lunch, pumpkin carving, and a fall season hacks workshop. Head to Moonwater Farm for more info.