Moonwater Farm: Lunar equinox gift to Compton
On April 22, Moonwater Farm will present “Moonwater Farmfest,” an Earth Day celebration
Moonwater farmers with a harvest. Courtesy Moonwater Farms
Light of the moon revealed path to Compton for Moonwater Farm visionariesCOMPTON — This city located a hop and a skip south of downtown Los Angeles, named after pioneer Griffith Dickenson Compton, harbors a secret that uniquely sets it apart from other municipalities in the area. Moonwater Farm is the city’s best-kept whisper — a most auspicious fertile haven of harmony.
Moonwater, located at 544 W. Raymond St. [MAP], is an agricultural scape sprouting food from the earth, herbs, edible flowers abuzz with pollinating honeybees, and vibrant butterflies. It is also a gathering of milk-bearing goats — both billies and nannies; a place with crowing roosters, and where horses gallop on the periphery bearing urban cowboys and cowgirls.
Moonwater Farm is a small snippet of agrarian culture.
Kathleen J. Blakistone and husband Richard Draut envisioned Moonwater when they acquired the Richland Farms property in 2011 — then a crumbling, disheveled property on a third acre for sale that needed an owner with a vision to see beyond the hours of work that was going to be needed to bring it back to livable condition.
Literally a cornucopia
Blakistone and Draut had the experience to do the job, having bought and renovated their first home in Venice, a community of Santa Monica. Blakistone graduated from UCLA with a major in political science and urban studies and flourished in corporate America for 25 years. Draut, a designer/builder and woodworking craftsman and Blakistone merged their respective talents to fuse a vision that transformed a dilapidated old house, barn, and garage into something magical.
“We wanted to leverage growing food in water and, as we’d made our bid and closed escrow on the spring and fall equinoxes, and the cycle of the moon is so incredibly important for when you plant and when you harvest, we chose the name Moonwater Farm,” Blakistone recalled.
The couple spent 18 months restoring the property with recycled materials — house, garage, yard and even added a stable and chicken coop.
Moonwater Farm incorporates principals of permaculture, which Blakistone says is a philosophy of working with nature rather than against it. Even rainwater flowing from the roof is reclaimed as groundwater and the soil is constantly regenerating by composting — a process yielding nutrient-rich decomposed organic matter recycled into the soil as a fertilizer.
The proof is in the earth. Moonwater Farm is literally a cornucopia, yielding peach, grapefruit and banana trees, artichokes, rhubarb, herbs, medicinal plants, traditional row crops like collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, and fennel — goat’s milk, and let’s not forget daily fresh organic raised eggs from the coop.
Grow food commercially
A California native, Blakistone parlayed her university education into a successful career as an executive in packaging sales. The love of gardening wasn’t automatic but germinated in her in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica School Garden Project, which created sustainable student gardens, was integrated at her son’s McKinley Elementary School and 12 other campuses. After volunteering there, Blakistone developed a green thumb and later enrolled in the Master Gardener program at the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Looking back, she and husband Richard purchased their first home in Venice in 2001. The property was a 900-square-foot house, built in 1921, and a 550-square-foot rear house added in the 1950s.
Draut and Blakistone creatively renovated the two houses, she told a Santa Monica newspaper, noting that they maintained the original structures and outdoor spaces, but extracted the lawn and replaced it with native plants and edible landscape. Later they added a coop with chickens.
Eventually, Draut enrolled in the Master Gardener program himself. He also became enthusiastic about aquaponics, growing plants and raising fish together in one integrated system.
Blakistone and Draut dreamed of expanding beyond their small home garden in Venice.
“It became clear that if we wanted to grow food commercially, we needed some land where this was legal,” Blakistone recalls.
Everything that Kathleen and Richard had done up to this point was leading to the formulation and design of their small urban farm in Compton, which today incorporates a summer farm camp to youth ages 8-13, regenerative farming education, school group visits, homeschool enrichment classes, and urban agriculture workshops.
“Many of [the youth] may be experiencing camp for the first time,” said Blakistone. “We strive to create a space imbued with tolerance and beauty that can foster a lifelong connection with nature and eco-literacy often hard to find in the city.”
Thanks to the untiring efforts of Blakistone and Draut, Moonwater Farm is an integral part of Compton. Even though public officials have yet to visit, the city’s schoolchildren, at institutions like Environmental Charter Middle School, and others have benefited greatly.
Blakistone also teaches an afterschool Urban Agriculture & Wellness class at Samuel Gompers Middle School in Watts and has a good relationship with the TRIO Scholars program at L.A. Southwest College, which assists potential first-generation college students as they progress from middle school to college.
Many Compton parents have embraced Moonwater as well. On April 22, from 12:00 p.m. to 4 p.m., the venue will present “Moonwater Farmfest,” an Earth Day celebration for families with storytelling, music, and crafts. Food and drinks also will be available for purchase from family-friendly vendors.
Get information and purchase tickets for Moonwater Farmfest HERE.