The South Central Farm operated from 1994 until 2006 on East 41st and South Alameda Streets in South Central, Los Angeles. The South Central Farmers, primarily poor immigrant families from Latin America, transformed a fourteen-acre plot slated for use as a garbage incinerator into 350 plots where they grew crops like corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, cactus and guava. Once considered the largest urban farm and community garden in the country, the garden enabled families to be less dependent on the food bank and provided a safe neighborhood haven.
After years of successful operation, in a devastating turn of events, the South Central Farm site was sold by Los Angeles city officials to private developer Ralph Horowitz to build a distribution center for Forever 21, a women’s clothing manufacturer and retailer. After weeks of community protest, the farm was forcibly shut down and, bulldozed at 5 am on June 13, 2006. The story of the South Central Farmers is told by Scott Hamilton Kennedy in his Academy Award nominated documentary film “The Garden.” Told there was nothing to be done, the filmmaker decided to chronicle this heartbreaking tale through its players: the farmers, the wheelers and dealers, the green power advocates and the moneymen.
This Saturday, on the third anniversary of the garden’s demolition, the South Central Farmers and their supporters will reunite. The rally asks Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa to reconsider the use of this land, and subsidize the restoration of the farm with a portion of $137 million collected from developers for parks and green space. Especially in this current economic climate, preserving public gardening space and expanding accessibility nationwide is even more important than ever. This Saturday show your support for public green spaces in your local community by writing a letter (to local officials including city council members or parks bureau representatives), visiting parks, or buying food from local gardeners.