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  • Randy Ritchie

Why our Founder hopes you'll Change

Founder of Malibu Compost in organic garden
Randy Ritchie

We never know what it is that is going to change us, make us change. Sometimes it's an awakening or an awareness from someone or something. Other times it's a life changing event like a war, a birth, a death. For me, it was the day I was rushed to the hospital as my lungs filled with fluid and the hours of my life were waning.

I knew from the doctor at Urgent Care that I had less than 8 hours left on this planet if the doctors at the hospital couldn't get my lungs to clear. A life, my life of growing, learning, living, loving was about to come to an abrupt end. Was I ready to go?

Spiritually, as a christian and a man of faith I was ready. I believe that things happen in God's time, not my time. So, as they moved me upstairs to the cardiac wing of the hospital to try and drain my lungs so that I could breathe, I began to pray, to reflect and to look over a life on Earth... my life.

I had changed, incarnated many times in my life; musician, screenwriter, landscaper, designer, organic farmer, composter... many lives within one lifetime. I had children, step-children, a grandchild and had finally met and married the love of my life. I'd sold screenplays to Hollywood superstars and built a compost company from scratch. I got sober and helped many men down that path to recovery. My life had been a good life, a full life. A hard life, one where the constant was change. I had to continuously seek wisdom, the truth, the need to learn how to do the right thing, or the better thing all of the time. That was my motivator. Change has always been my muse.

windrow of farm made compost with trees in background
Farm made compost windrow I built on the farm

It was what led me to the soil, the microbes and the work that I had been so blessed to do with Malibu Compost and Number 2 Organics. I was seeking better soil and compost for my landscape jobs, the design and build work I was doing over 30 years ago, that began in the 80's but really began as a child in my grandmother's garden.

Grammy was the one who got the gardening bug going in me. Her summer patch of Jersey tomatoes is what piqued my interest in soil. It was she who'd introduced me to using dairy cow compost in her plot and suspending it in liquid as a drench that he called, "Tomata juice." It was her secret weapon in the garden.

I moved onto my next horticultural love, roses, when we moved to California. My mom had a beautiful garden of roses and terra cotta pottery all over our backyard. This form of gardening in containers intrigued me and I was drawn to the mystique and beauty of roses. I began to tend them in my early teens.

flowering purple heirloom roses on large rose bush
Prize purple heirloom roses

It was around that time that I was introduced to one of my other loves in life- landscape architecture. My parents hired an icon in the art of landscape architecture, Sid Galper, to design and build a pool and masterpiece landscape in their yard in Pacific Palisades. I fell in love with Sid's drawings, his designs and concepts, use of space and flow. The music of landscape architecture captivated me and I have been a huge fan, student and practitioner ever since.

These were the things that were playing over in my mind as I faced death. I spent much of the night praying for and thinking about my wife and children. They were all amazing people. I was blessed to have each of them in my life. I asked God to please watch over them and to protect them.

I also thought and reflected on all of you, my friends and soil family at Malibu Compost, and all of the wonderful patrons who have supported us over the years. I reminisced on the thousands of you who've taken my organic gardening classes over the years. How lucky I have been to be put in the position to teach people that they can change, really change how they garden. I hope from me many gardeners have learned that they do not have to be beholden to the chemical companies and methodologies that have dominated gardening for over a hundred years.

apple tree flowering in organic orchard
Real Organic Apple Tree in Orchard

I got to see the light go on in people's eyes when the idea clicked that the "organic" products that they were using weren't organic, and that the organic industry was subject to the folly of marketing slogans, advertising money and the ownership of the "company store" of Big Chem, Big Ag and Big Pharma.

It was that night, in March 2022, as I lay propped up in a hospital bed that I reviewed a life- my life. I knew that there was more to be done. If God kept me on this Earth, I was going to push the envelope and illuminate the truth about the myths and information that gardening has become.

As the sun peaked up over the crest of the Santa Monica mountains, I knew that I was going to live. I was relieved to know that I would get to kiss my wife and hug my children once more. I was re-invigorated with a determination to get better, stronger and healthier and to teach as many gardeners, landscapers and farmers as possible that we've been doing it all wrong for the last century. I knew that I had to help any one of you who would listen that we have to take our gardens, our landscapes and our farms back.

I will be teaching anyone who wants to learn how to do that in this phase of my life. A year later, I am healthy, strong and more vital than ever. I am making changes. I will be sharing them with anyone who desires to change the way they are working in the soil and taking care of their gardens. My world has changed. I hope that you will reflect on this Earth Day 2023, and are all open to change as well...

© Randy Ritchie 2023


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