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Urban L.A. farming community worries about its future

February 20, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Richland Farms

Less than a mile from the 91 Freeway and from downtown Compton, the 10-block Richland Farms neighborhood — zoned for agricultural use — is an unlikely rural oasis plopped down in the middle of the gritty urban landscape.

The close-knit community's African American and Latino residents are awakened each morning by the rooster's crow. Horses share the roadway with pickup trucks and SUVs. And a cacophony of clucking hens, bleating goats and squealing pot-bellied pigs drifts from backyards.

"It's a garden paradise," said Wilkins, 72, dubbed "the village chief" and who for more than four decades has owned property in Richland Farms, including stables where he raises Tennessee walking horses. "We have to maintain it."

Many of the older generation are dying out, and Wilkins and others fear that increasing development pressures threaten the future of Richland Farms.

Read more: "Close-knit families farm in Compton's core."


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Photo: Nathaniel Bryant washes one of his five horses in Richland Farms, a unique rural community tucked into the urban core of Compton. Other residents raise goats and poultry, and they do it without sidewalks and other modern trappings. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times