Andrew Johnson, Compton's Resident Horseshoer on a Neighborhood Growing its own Food

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

Andrew Johnson moved to Compton's Richland Farms when he was 5 years old and remembers a childhood of dirt roads and chicken farms, and activities like racing horses, chasing rabbits and hunting crawdad. "It was like Griffith Park!" he excitedly exclaimed.

Back in those days, Johnson said, the neighborhood sustained its own food economy. "They used to barter," he explained of his dad who had goats and cows, and of neighbors who had chickens and rabbits. "All the food came from here and we ate natural. We didn't have the market--Miracle Market was a local market for us that we put our food inside of. There was another one here on Greenleaf... it was all here, everything."

Today things are different, but some residents are still growing their own.

Johnson, who also works with the Compton Jr. Posse, credits the neighborhood lifestyle for keeping him alive. "I didn't get into any gangs or anything because I was trying to follow the horses." Now at 55, his typical day consists of waking up 3:30 in the morning, going for a run, cleaning his horse stalls and then cleaning stalls for 20 other horses down the street.

To put it simply, Johnson says Richland Farms is "joy, peace, love and happiness, and the best riding we can do."

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 second mural hotspot, which was produced by student producer Tachi Vickers.

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