Fighting for South Central Farm

socentral.jpgOK, I know we're very, very late to the bandwagon on this, but we've been up to our eyeballs in work.

The police moved in last week to forcibly evict the denizens of South Central Farm, a 14-acre community garden in the middle of South Central Los Angeles ... so the owner can build a warehouse on it. About 350 families, mostly Latino, have been growing corn, squash, tomatoes and cactus on the spread for years. They sell the surplus in a farmers market where buyers literally pick what they want.

Watch this awesome video (the one with FARM in red letters) on Daryl Hannah's video-blog site. The soundtrack is a song by Willie Nelson (I'm pretty sure) saying that if farmworker activist Cesar Chavez were alive today, then:

He'd be fasting just like Julia
and leading our good marches
to show our food tastes better
than that junk from the Golden Arches

The legal history is complicated. The county took the land from Ralph Horowitz by eminent domain years ago in order to build an incinerator on it. After the Rodney King riots, the project stalled and squatters moved in. The city was obligated to give Horowitz right of first refusal to buy it back after 10 years of inactivity. He did, for $5 million, and promptly told the farmers to scram. Celebrities took up the cause -- Willie Nelson, Darryl Hannah, Joan Baez, Laura Dern and Ben Harper along with environmental activists Julia "Butterfly" Hill (fasting in a tree) and John Quigley -- and a media circus was born.

When the hoopla first started, Horowitz said he'd sell the land back, possibly to a public trust, but for $6 million. Then he wanted $10 million, then $12 million. His final price tag was $16.3 million -- which the Annenberg Foundation has pledged to pay -- but now he's pissed and says he won't sell it "until he evicted every single person from the land."

On July 12, the community will go to court to fight the legality of the sale of the land. The South Central Farmers are holding a 24/7 vigil outside the farm, at 41st Street and Alameda -- watching all their hard work get bulldozed. Their website says they're looking for donations of food and supplies to keep it going. Money for the legal fight is also welcome.

Michael Kozart at IndyBay posted an excellent first-person account today of what the farm is like.

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