Growing Your Own in Compton at Raymond Park Community Garden

Departures is KCET's oral history and interactive documentary project that thoroughly explores neighborhoods through the people that live there. In January and early February, SoCal Focus is taking readers through the Richland Farms series one day at a time. Follow all posts in this series here.

Compton was once known for its sugar beets, cauliflower, and pumpkins. Albeit vastly different today, the city's agricultural neighborhood Richland Farms gives a glimpse of the past tradition of growing food. One good example is the community garden found along the Compton Creek at Raymond Street Park.

There, backdropped by a playground and baseball diamond, retired landscaper Mildred Johnson has been tending to the plot since last spring. "Eating properly is becoming an issue for young people in terms of their health, so I think it would be something good for everyone, for the whole community," she explained about community participation.

One concern of Johnson's is making sure people eat the food. That's why she used what's popular at local grocery stores as an indicator of what to grow during different seasons. Last year, the list of vegetables produced included corn, tomatoes, cabbage, collard greens, lettuce, kale, bok choy, zucchini, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, squashes and string beans.

See Johnson speak about the garden in the above video. A second clip can be found on the Departures site here.

The Departures Richland Farms series is broken down into two parts as interactive murals: The Past and The Present. The above information is based on The Present's sixth mural hotspot.

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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