There's a new wave of urban farmers, but Piper Goldstein takes it to the next level. She likes to farm in a gold lamé dress and work boots. A native to Los Angeles, she actually has Woodland Hills tattooed across her stomach. But she's not your average valley girl; she has a stronger than steel work ethic. And on Friday she opened Atwater Village Farm, a fresh-from-the-farm produce grocery store in Atwater Village. Not bad timing, as the nearest equivalent, Nature Mart, has recently been taken over by Lassen's, which has drawn criticism for its support of Proposition 8.

Goldstein has lived in the Silverlake, Echo Park, Atwater Village neighborhood for 20 years. What started as a business plan for a juice bar, has become an ultimate community service, giving people what they seemingly need and want out of a grocery store: local, organic and farm-fresh.

Goldstein in her garden; Credit: Maritza

Goldstein in her garden; Credit: Maritza

After suffering an extreme shoulder injury, Goldstein's life changed. She was lying in bed with a sling around her arm, unable to work, and instead of drifting into despair she read a New York Magazine article called “My Empire of Dirt,” about a writer turned locavore/urban farmer. Goldstein thought to herself “I'm *&@king doing that.” She moved to a house with 4000 square feet of backyard and while recovering from her injury she pulled all the weeds herself and turned it into a farm. Windrose Farms in Paso Robles took her under their wing and she learned everything she needed to know about farming. At the same time she sought alternative ways to recover. Formerly a rock tour chef, or as she likes to call it, a “lunch lady,” Goldstein learned juicing and a macrobiotic diet from Mike D of the Beastie Boys. She took up juicing as a healthy means of recovery, thereby turning her career into a lifestyle and ultimately into a way to help her community.

The store will feature produce (not from Goldstein's own small farm but from California farms such as Windrose Farms); products from local vendors such as pickles, jam, honey and olive oil; locally grown grains and nuts; and imports, such as beans and California cheeses. Additionally, the store will host events, one of the first will be a cookbook signing from farm-to-table chefs who have recently published cookbooks.

Goldstein raised money for the store on Kickstarter, a micro-fundraising website for funding creative projects. To Goldstein, Kickstarter meant more than money. It was community support. To her, the founding of a store wasn't about her as much as it was about what other people wanted.

Anna Harari is a writer/director who lives in Los Angeles.

LA Weekly