In the first of a two-part look at the stories that had a lasting impact on Altadena in 2012, here are a few that might not seem obvious. Next week, we’ll highlight the most important stories of the year.
Saving Lower Millard Canyon: Home to giant oaks and an active wildlife corridor, this beautiful piece of secluded nature close to the city was offered by the owners to the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy for $675,000. Thanks to donations from many groups and individuals, the money was raised and the 13 acres of lower Millard Canyon have been preserved forever.
Food culture explosion: Altadena’s visibility as a center for foodies grew rapidly in 2012. Bon Apetit magazine’s blog compared Altadena’s foodie scene to the one in Brooklyn, N.Y. (New Yorkers always think you should take it as a compliment if anyone compares you favorably with them).
The Altadena Farmer’s Market, which opened in May, is critical to the scene. Food fans can savor the wares of organic, sustainable, small-scale farmers and food crafters every Wednesday without having to make the drive to Hollywood or the Westside. It was a long haul through county approvals for market manager Joseph Shuldiner, a world-class foodie and cookbook author, but his vision remained true.
Shuldiner also founded the Institute of Domestic Technology, which holds classes in cheese making, coffee roasting and the like, usually at the Zane Grey Estate — ground zero for Altadena food culture. Estate residents Steven Rudicel and Gloria Putnam, who run a hobby goat milk creamery, recently purchased some mountain land to start the Angeles Crest Creamery, expanding their goat cheese empire. They’re also planning Bar Altadena, a wood-fired pizza restaurant on Lake Avenue.
There’s also the backyard farmer and orchardists’ group, RIPE-Altadena, the Altadena-centric Arroyo Food Co-Op and the dormant-but-still living Altadena Underground Farmer’s Market, where many home-based food crafters turned their passion into small businesses.
Altadena’s unique food sensibility is spreading — Shuldiner was recently hired to consult on the revamp of Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. He has all kinds of plans for creating places to meet and eat in the venerable old space.
Some notable Altadenans passed on in 2012, among them: John Levy, a pioneering manager of jazz performers; rock impresario and performer Johnny Otis; Altadena businesswoman and activist Virginia Lance; former Altadena resident Rodney King; actor John Ingle (best known as Edward Quartermain from General Hospital) and his wife of 58 years, Grace-Lynne Martin Ingle, who was an accomplished Broadway singer and actress.
TIMOTHY RUTT is the publisher and editor of Altadenablog.com.