In the aftermath of The La Riots , the city of Los Angeles gave the citizens of South Central LA a piece of property as a healing gesture. The land was to be used for a community garden, in the heart of the inner city. For 12 years, about 350 families farmed the 14 acres of land, making it a jewel in urban America – the largest urban garden anywhere in the US.Then quite suddenly, The Garden residents were ordered to vacate the property. The original owner, through what can only be describes as suspicious political dealings, had bought the land back and wanted the farmers ..and the farm…off the land. He intended to use the land “as it was intended” – to develop the property & build warehouses.
The Garden documents the community’s struggle to keep the land that they had devoted so much time & energy into for 12 years. The land fed their families, taught their children the value of community ,nature & self-sufficiency. In a community of all low income families, primarily Latino, the garden is what kept them from slipping farther into poverty, maintaining themselves on food they proudly grew themselves. Not only it is a struggle for the land, it’s a struggle against greed,racism, dishonest politics & classism. The citizens also must deal with conflicts among themselves, as they try to sort out the anger that’s bound to result from one man & a city telling them that a piece of property is worth more than they are.
Intensely emotional to watch (or maybe only if your a rabid dirt-loving, real- food loving hormonal pregnant woman), The Garden is inspiring & infuriating all at once. The cause of The Garden was supported by some celebrity faces, who appear briefly in the film – most notably to me (since he’s one of my many Pretend Boyfriends) – Zach de la Rocha ,at a benefit concert organized to raise funds for the farmers to buy the land outright themselves.
A must-watch film for anyone concerned with sustainable food supply & urban farming, especially for low income families .
This post originally appeared on crazy dumbsaint of the mind on February 1,2010.