The garden will hold a fundraiser Saturday 3—10 p.m. There are free introduction to spring and summer gardening classes Saturday morning at 9 a.m. for the next 5 weeks.

COMPTON — On Tuesday evening urban farmers from across LA County rallied at the Compton City Council meeting asking for assistance in saving a long standing community garden that is at risk of being demolished and redeveloped.

Many of the people who spoke during the meeting’s public comment expressed their gratitude for the space.

Jonathan Fajardo, Compton Community Garden (CCG) Director and Landsteward told the council “Dr. [Sheridan] Ross, surrounded by a community of diverse humans from Compton and North Long Beach, have fed countless citizens of Compton free, healthy, organic foods. Challenging the food apartheid that existed for decades.”

Members of the Garden are asking the city to assist in buying the land and create a community land trust ensuring the garden will not be removed — or alternatively find a vacant city owned lot where they can rebuild their garden if they are unable to submit a counteroffer to the landowner by the Tuesday deadline that is stated on their GoFundMe page.

Jonathan Fajardo speaks at podium during Compton City Council meeting public comment.
Compton Community Garden leader Jonathan Fajardo asks the Compton City Council for assistance to keep their garden at its current location. (A. Del Cid Lugo / Los Angeles Public Press)

The Compton Community Garden was established on a vacant lot in 2013. The lot had been vacant for 19 years before Dr. Ross, the garden’s founder, came to a lease agreement with the landowner to host the garden there. The landlord allowed the garden to exist there while he paid the property taxes in exchange for harvesting vegetables from the garden.

Dr. Ross, a retired neurosurgeon, has established around 60 similar gardens throughout LA county. Ross explained “The garden has lasted a lot longer than most. Generally a community garden will last seven years, we’re on ten!”

On April 1 the directors of the Compton Community Garden noticed a large for sale sign at the garden located on S Long Beach Blvd and E Caldwell St. The landowner has since received a 500 thousand dollar bid on the lot.

According to Dr. Ross the garden, throughout the pandemic and up to now has been able to feed at least 100 families a week from their harvest which includes lettuce, strawberries, fava beans, bananas, snap peas, carrots and medicinal plants such as mugwort, mint, Mexican sage, chamomile, and lavender. They even tend three bee hives to promote pollination.

“This area is considered a food desert, because there is not a good [grocery] store for at least a quarter mile in each direction,” said Ross

As of time of publication they have raised more than $180,000. Though there have been attempts by the garden to purchase the land in the past, they were previously unable to raise enough money to put in a competitive bid.

Kushmir Capers, a CCG Director, says the garden means everything to him.

“It’s so therapeutic, putting your hands in the soil, being with the plants. The minute you come into this garden it’s an oasis, even though we’re on long beach blvd. As soon as you step in, it truly is a different world.”

He added, “It’s really revolutionary work, there are these vacant lots all over every hood in America, this is something that truly can be liberation for the people here. Ultimately that’s what food apartheid is about, it’s access to the fresh organic foods.”

Kushmir Casper, Compton Community Garden member weeds the planters.
Kushmir Capers, Compton Community Garden Director, tends the plant beds. (A. Del Cid Lugo / LA Public Press)

Amanda is a journalist born and raised in SELA, where you can find her playing tennis at a local park or taking her cat out for a walk.