Monday, May 22, 2006

South Central Farmers ready for a fight

Ross the Boss, our hip and politically astute filmmaking friend from House of Ross, tells us that the LAPD is going to boot the South Central Farmers Coalition from their garden spot near downtown L.A. tomorrow.
And things could get ugly.

To make a long story short, the 14 acres of property located at 41st and Alameda Streets in South Central, Los Angeles was originally bought by the city from a developer for a trash incinerator, but given to the community for a garden after the 1992 riots.

Divided into 360 plots, one of the largest urban gardens in the country, it's been a huge success, cutting crime in the area and giving people an opportunity to feed themselves and their neighbors. LA Times columnist Al Martinez today describes it as “a unique effort by industrious people to feed themselves, to help others and maybe make a few bucks by selling the stuff they've grown by the sweat of their brows... an unexpected garden that suddenly appears amid the calamity of commercial progress, an emerald island in a sea of industrial gray.”

So of course it can’t be left alone to thrive. The original owner of the property went to court to get his property back and the city sold it back in a private meeting in 2002. The fight’s been on ever since. The developer said the Regional Food Bank could buy it from him at triple the cost. The deadline’s at the end of the day. They’re $10 million short.

The city of LA, which last week found $100 million to attract an NFL team, can’t find the money. Glamourous folk like Leonardo DiCaprio have backed the farmer’s cause, but they’re not writing the big check today, either. So unless someone antes up, the developer gets to build his warehouse, and another dream is over.

Everyone’s expecting a police action tomorrow. Word from the farmers is that they shall not be moved.

Ross produced a very cool documentary on the farm. You can see it here.

And get the latest on tomorrow's activities here.

(Note: DiCaprio's quoted on his website saying: "The farm holds a remarkable array of biodiversity and, because of its size, functions as a carbon sink, a natural environment that stores more carbon than it releases into the atmosphere, and this helps reduce global warming. We have to start acknowledging that every action counts." Sounds pretty smart for a high school dropout. Then again, he did interview Bill Clinton for ABC News...)

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