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Meet Hop Hopkins & Panther Ridge Farm

Meet Hop Hopkins & Panther Ridge Farm

Panther Ridge Farm is not a typical Community Garden.  Sitting on just over a 1/4 acre of semi-suburban residential land in Altadena, just north of Los Angeles, it is a hyperlocal first generation family farm.   This home, farm, garden, school was begun by Hop Hopkins, (arborist, master gardener, permaculture designer and community activist) and his very engaged family.  The farm demonstrates that everywhere we grow food responsibly provides an infrastructure to nurture the growth and transformation of plants, and communities.  From their food forest, to the chicken coop, to the beehives and multiple compost piles, to the classes for adults and children, to the Sunday potlucks, Hop and his family are living the life and sharing the benefits with neighbors. I cherish his avocados, lemons and eggs for their culinary and nutritional values, and even more so for the thought, love and labor of the local people and organisms that brought them to fruition…

I’m in the garden to reconnect to the earth and my food, and am drawn to Panther Ridge Farm’s focus on “developing human-scale community-based food production methods, in order to support local and regional agricultural movements working towards food sovereignty and food shed resiliency”.   Even better is the way this focus manifests as food and ideas flowing across a fence, a meal, or a learning circle.  The farm gives us permission to think out of the box about what we eat and where it comes from, as well as how we live our lives.

Every community garden should be a resource to their neighborhood and have insights that should be shared with other gardens.  So while Panther Ridge Farm is not what we usually think of as a community garden, it demonstrates, nurtures, and advocates for a local, sustainable solution with a big smile, laugh, and hug attached.  I’m not encouraging us to all care about the same thing in the same way, just to care.  To look into the garden and share the best of what we find with a world that could use it.  And to reflect on Hop and his family – and so many passionate players across LA – and how we can more effectively use the gardens we call home to be the tool of transformation they always have been.

By Mark Rice

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