My last stop before departing the States was The Huntington Botanic Gardens to meet with Scott Kleinrock, project coordinator of The Ranch. In line with its long-standing agricultural roots as an orange and avocado grove, The Ranch is a new project designed to cultivate agricultural literacy among visitors to the Huntington Botanical Gardens. About half of the 15 acres are in Valencia orange cultivation (as they have been for decades), and the remaining 7 acres are devoted to an agricultural/educational display and learning garden. Most recently, this space was a gravel parking lot. It now looks quite different:
While permaculture is not the primary focus of The Ranch, “Permaculture is one of the things that informs the garden.” Kleinrock seems to have an authentic understanding of what permaculture is about, and the limitations of the system he works within. “Permanent agriculture is not what I’m doing here. I use a ton of plastic for example. I don’t see it as a permanent system, though hopefully as a resilient and adaptable one. For example the organic fertilizers I use are still a byproduct of the industrial system. But permaculture will definitely be part of the discussion.” Kleinrock has completed an intensive 2-month permaculture certificate and is currently working on his masters in landscape architecture.
One 400 sq ft section of the garden will be comprised of individual beds that will be planted to be easily replicable. “Unlike the rest of The Huntington, The Ranch is about being hands-on. With a more realistically sized space, we hope to demonstrate how people can grow food.”
The Ranch is slated to open to the public this November, and I look forward to a return visit to check its progress.